Are the days of the SUV and large gas-guzzlers over? The New York Times reports how “Soaring gas prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede.”

According to the Times: “In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.”

George Pipas, the chief sales analyst for the Ford Motor Company told the paper: “It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here”.

The trend toward smaller and lighter vehicles with better mileage is a blow to Detroit automakers, which offer fewer such models than Asian carmakers like Toyota and Honda. Moreover, the decline of S.U.V.’s and pickups has curtailed the biggest source of profits for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

But with oil prices expected to remain high for years, auto industry executives are seeing a turning point. “The era of the truck-based large S.U.V.’s is over,” said Michael Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the nation’s largest auto retailer.

RIP the SUV…