Study Finds High Gasoline Prices Affecting U.S. Car Buyer Decisions
A new fuel-price study by Edmunds.com indicates that car shoppers turn their attention to more fuel efficient vehicles when gasoline rises above an average national price of $2.80 per gallon.
The study, which correlates the relationship –- “elasticity” –- between gas prices and online consideration of specific vehicle models and types showed that about $2.80 per gallon currently is a “psychological turning point for consumers,” says Edmunds.com Executive Director Dr. David Tompkins.
Researchers also projected what would happen if gasoline prices reach an average national price of $4.00 per gallon. In this scenario:
- Hybrids would receive a 502 percent increase in customer consideration.
- Interest in traditional midsize SUVs, large SUVs and large trucks would decrease at rates of 35 percent, 34 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
- The luxury car and luxury SUVs segments, although containing some of the least-efficient models on the market, would sustain modest decreases of 15 percent. Researchers explain that buyers considering these models typically have enough money that a rise in the price of gasoline of just $1 over current levels isn’t enough to dissuade them from purchasing a luxury model.
- Brands perceived to be more fuel efficient would receive more consideration, despite the realities of their products’ actual fuel efficiency ratings. For example, Japanese trucks would fare better than domestic ones even though domestic trucks tend to earn better fuel economy, and the Saturn Aura Hybrid will fare better than the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid even though the two vehicles use identical powertrain components and therefore generally achieve the same fuel efficiency.
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