[Oeva-list] Car Buyers Won't Change Habits Until Gas Hits $6.51 A Gallon

Theoldcars at aol.com Theoldcars at aol.com
Thu Apr 5 21:23:05 PDT 2012

Gas prices would have to get pretty high to really affect  people's habits 
(mroach, Flickr). 
More than one third of car shoppers say  that _gas  prices_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/cheap-gas-prices/)  will have to top $6.51 before they would consider 
buying a more _fuel  efficient vehicle_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/gallery?photo=10/) , according to a recent survey obtained by _AOL Autos_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/) .

The  Autotrader.com survey reveals that many Americans have grown numb to 
the  constant drumbeat of higher gas prices, says Rick Wainschel, AutoTrader 
vice  president, automotive insights.

"People are coming to grips with higher  prices of gas," Wainschel said. 
"They are concerned with fuel prices, but they  expect gas prices to remain 

While most consumers say a _new vehicle's_ (http://autos.aol.com/new-cars/) 
  fuel efficiency is important, saving money and helping the environment 
was not  the top reason for _buying a new vehicle_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/new-cars/) , the survey  showed.

Furthermore, the price of fuel would have to rise considerably  before many 
would seriously consider a vehicle that got better fuel  economy.

According to the survey:

-19 percent said they would need  gas prices to be $4 and $4.50 for them to 
change their buying habits

-7  percent said it would have to be $4.51 and $5

-18 percent said it would  have to be between $5 and $5.50

-11 percent said it would have be $5.51  and $6

-10 percent said it would have to be $6 and $6.50

-35  percent said it would have to be over $6.51

"The mindset is shifting,"  Wainschel said.

Other industry experts said other factors could come into  play when it 
comes to pain at the pump, such as when consumers see their single  tank 
filling top $100. 
What would gas have to cost for you to consider buying a more fuel 
efficient  vehicle?

"People are getting accustomed to high gas prices and  are adjusting the 
way they spend their money," said Eric Lyman, vice president  at ALG, which is 
part of TrueCar.com. In 2008, when gas prices spiked to over $4  a gallon, 
which spurred big sales in _fuel efficient  cars_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/gallery?photo=10/) .

"That was a shock to the system, and it directly impacted  consumer 
behavior," Lyman said.

This time, however, the prices have  slowly grown higher and higher. 
GasBuddy.com predicts that the national average  for a gallon of gas could climb 
to as high as $4.35 by the end of April.  According the Gasbuddy.com's 
website, the national average is $3.92 per  gallon.

And while consumers may have grown apathetic toward higher gas  prices, 
some say the rising price of gas is helping carmakers sell even more  vehicles.

Aaron Bragman of IHS Automotive used the example of a person  who owns a 
five year old _Buick Park  Avenue_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/cars-Buick-Park+Avenue-2005/overview/)  that gets 26 mpg _trading it in_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/trade-in-value/)  for a 2012 _LaCrosse_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/cars-Buick-LaCrosse-2012/overview/)  with  eAssist that gets 36 mpg.

"That's a 40 percent increase and something  people will notice immediately 
in their pocketbook," he  said.

Additionally, Bragman points out that the average age of a vehicle  on the 
road is older than ever before and those less efficient vehicles are  likely 
to be swapped out for more efficient models, no matter what type of  
vehicle the consumer chooses.

"There are a lot of reasons the _new car_ (http://autos.aol.com/new-cars/)  
market  is doing so well right now," Bragman said.

Credit has loosened up, _trade in  values_ 
(http://autos.aol.com/trade-in-value/)  are high and the _used car prices_ (http://autos.aol.com/used/kbb/)  
are extremely high.  All of that is likely to push more people into a new 

Wainshel is  equally as optimistic.

"Things are improving and consumer confidence in  the future is one of the 
reasons we're seeing such strong sales," he  said.

But don't expect the floodgates to open for highly efficient small  cars. 
That segment will grow, but it won't be only because of high gas prices.  Not 
until those prices get really  high.

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