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Obama: Enjoy that cheap gas — while it lasts

Regular gas costs just $1.79 a gallon at a Mobil station in Livonia, Michigan.

That pain at the gas pump has been significantly reduced recently, as oil has dropped below $50 a barrel and the average price of a gallon of gas nationwide is $2.191, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

But President Barack Obama, ahead of Wednesday’s speech at a Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Detroit doesn’t want you abandoning those smaller, fuel-efficient cars in favor of SUVs.

“I would strongly advise American consumers to continue to think about how you save money at the pump because it is good for the environment, it’s good for family pocketbooks and if you go back to old habits and suddenly gas is back at $3.50, you are going to not be real happy,” Obama said in an exclusive interview with The Detroit News.

He did say “folks should enjoy” those low gas prices, that in some parts of the country have gas below $2 a gallon, but says it shouldn’t alter his energy policy plans.

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“The American people should not believe that … demand for oil by China and India and all these emerging countries is going to stay flat,” Obama told The Detroit News. “Just demographics tell us demand is going to continue to grow, that over the long term it will grow faster than supply and we have to be smart about our energy policy.”

During his Michigan appearance, the president will tout his administration’s bailout of the U.S. auto industry, which saved at least a million jobs and a critical part of the U.S. and Michigan economy. It’s among a series of actions he has taken that Obama is highlighting at stops in several U.S. cities as he prepares for his Jan. 20 State of the Union address.

But there’s one slight problem. The plant he’ll be speaking at is closed this week due to sagging demand for the energy-efficient cars it produces.

The reason? While small car sales typically slow down during winter, low gas prices aren’t helping.

“We are seeing buying decisions swaying more toward SUVs,” Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski told The Detroit News. “Dealers don’t need the (small car) inventory” now, she added.

CONTRIBUTING: Associated Press