Who pays the most for gas?

Answer: Turkey. But that's not stopping traffic in Istanbul. Plus: The Prius continues to stomp all over the Ford Explorer

Published May 1, 2008 8:41PM (EDT)

A sobering observation from Chevron CEO David O'Reilly, as reported by the Wall Street Journal's Keith Johnson, suggesting that high gas prices won't automatically encourage people to cut back on their driving.

I was in Turkey a couple of months ago. The price of gasoline is almost $11 a gallon. They’re selling a record number of automobiles. Traffic is backed up all over Istanbul.

I checked, and according to "Today's Zaman" Turkey suffers from the highest gas prices in the world -- $2.6 per liter, which I calculate to be about $10.40 per gallon. And although I could not ascertain what the record number of auto sales in Turkey for a month or year is, sales in the first quarter of 2008 rose by 27.9 percent compared to 2007.

So even as the Big Three automakers reported another month of awful sales in the U.S., the rest of the world, where gas prices are generally higher than the United States, is picking up the slack.

But lest you think all is automotive despair, now seems like a good time for another update of one of How the World Works' most popular regular features, the Toyota Prius vs Ford Explorer smackdown!

Last month I reported that Toyota sold a record number of Priuses in the United States in March: 20,635, compared to a puny 10,969 Ford Explorers. In April, the pummeling continued. Another record high for Priuses: 21,757, compared to an even punier 7,356 Ford Explorers.

But I have no numbers at all for Prius sales in Turkey.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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