More cite financial hardship from gas prices, amid signs of growing acceptance

WASHINGTON (AP) - The results of an A-P-Ipsos poll could be good news for makers of fuel-efficient cars.

Nearly half of those surveyed say the near-record gasoline prices are causing "serious hardship." That has prompted an increasing number of people to say they're considering buying a car that gets better gas mileage.

But there also are signs that a lot of people are clinging to their driving and vacation habits while grudgingly accepting the higher prices at the pump.

Slightly fewer people than last year say they're reducing their driving, cutting other expenses or curtailing vacation plans because of higher energy costs.

An automotive analyst says fuel costs will have to approach four dollars a gallon and stay there for about a year to trigger a shift in consumer buying patterns.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)