The first big show of the season is in Anaheim, California, where gas prices shot up 19 cents overnight amid refinery issues that have sent wholesale markets into a panic.
On Friday, Orange County motorists were paying an average of $4.52 for their regular unleaded - only 7 cents away from the all-time Orange County record of $4.59 that was set in June 2008.
Friday's average was 41 cents more than a week ago, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The prices surged after a "perfect storm" of record low inventory along with refinery incidents that brought large price spikes to the wholesale gasoline market, Auto Club officials said.
In recent weeks, local refineries were reportedly dropping production levels, exporting supplies to other countries, and allowing inventory to dwindle in anticipation of switching over to the "winter blend" gasoline, said Jeffrey Spring, an Auto Club spokesman.
The trouble began in August, when fire broke out at one of the biggest refineries in the state, a Chevron facility in the Bay Area; its production still has not fully recovered. Then, earlier this week, a power outage slowed production at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance that, though smaller, produces 10 percent of the state's gasoline. A pipeline that carries oil through the Central Valley also shut down when contaminants were found in it, further crimping gasoline inventories, experts said.
The news is not stopping the rollout of several new cars, trucks, and sport/utility vehicles at the Anaheim Convention Center, but consumers are expected to pay a lot more attention to hybrids and electrics than years past. Automotive Expert Doug Brauner showed some of them off on 9NEWS 5 a.m. You can learn more by visiting:
Kia Optima Hybrid: front fascia, exclusive alloy wheel design, and other subtle improvements designed to increase its aerodynamic efficiency that gets 35 City, 40 Highway, and 37 mpg combined.
Ford C-MAX: features 15 class-exclusive technologies including hands-free liftgate, active park assist for easier parallel parking and next-generation SmartGauge. Fuel economy for the C-MAX Hybrid is 47 mpg city/47 mpg highway (47 mpg combined) and has a base price of $25,995.
2013 Honda Accord: company calls this the "most sculpted Accord yet" with more useful passenger and cargo space and cutting-edge technology including HondaLink, LDW, FCW, LaneWatch.
2013 Dodge Dart : company says this car borrows some "Alfa Romeo DNA " to create a "groundbreaking compact sedan."
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