US car buyers turn to fuel-efficient vehicles as gas prices soar

May 04, 2004 02:00 AM

Car buyers in the United States are going for more fuel-efficient vehicles in response to rising gasoline prices, according to a survey.
The monthly study, by Harris Interactive and Kelley Blue Book, found 17 % of car buyers, or one out of six, have already changed their mind about what vehicle to purchase as a result of high fuel costs, and 21 % are strongly considering vehicles they had not considered before. Additionally, 15 % of new car shoppers indicated they would strongly consider more fuel efficient vehicles if gas prices increased by as little as 25 cents, according to the survey.

Since January, gas prices have increased by 40 cents to a national average of $ 1.83 a gallon. On average, buyers reported their vehicle choice would be affected if gas prices increased another 65 cents above current levels, according to the study.
"Many new car buyers are opting for vehicles that are more fuel-efficient than what they originally intended on buying," said Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor at Kelley Blue Book. "We are seeing this manifest in cars with smaller engines, with buyers choosing a 2-wheel drive vehicle instead of 4-wheel drive and just a smaller class of car altogether."

Vogelheim said that if gas prices remain high, there should be no significant drop in overall SUV sales, but buyers will be paying more attention to smaller and more fuel-efficient SUVs.
The survey was conducted on April 22 to April 26 among 1,706 US adults aged 18 and over who are in the market to purchase or lease a new vehicle within the next 12 months. It has an error margin of 3.3 percentage points.

Source: Xinhua News Agency
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