Chicago In a recent survey conducted by Cars.com, 85 percent of consumers said a prolonged period of $4 gasoline prices would prompt them to buy a more fuel-efficient car. Of that 85 percent, 28 percent said they would buy a more fuel-efficient car immediately and 57 percent said they would buy a more fuel-efficient car the next time they purchased a car.
According to the survey, designed to measure the effect of gas prices on buying decisions, many consumers are already doing what they can to save more at the pump. More than 80 percent of respondents said they are consciously practicing common fuel-saving techniques like making sure their tires are properly inflated, combining multiple errands into one trip and avoiding sudden stops and heavy acceleration.
“The survey is consistent with what we are seeing when it comes to searches for fuel-efficient vehicles,” said Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief at Cars.com. “When gas prices surged past $3 a gallon, searches for fuel-efficient vehicles skyrocketed. With no end in sight to soaring gas prices, I would expect that we are going to see more people seeking out cars that get better than 30 miles to the gallon.”
The vast majority of consumers (73 percent) said that fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon or higher is what they hope to achieve in any car they currently own or are planning to purchase. However, there is a threshold to how much consumers are willing to pay to get better gas mileage. The survey asked consumers, all things being equal, how much more they would pay for a car that got 40 miles per gallon versus a car that got 25 miles per gallon. More than 60 percent said they would pay $2000 or less and 21 percent said they wouldn’t pay any more for it.
“Clearly, when it comes to fuel-efficiency, there is a contradiction between what consumers want and what they are willing to pay for,” added Olsen. “That puts a bigger burden on auto makers who claim that they will have to add thousands of dollars to the cost of each vehicle to meet the fuel-economy standards of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.”
The survey was conducted online for Cars.com by Impulse Research Corp., with a random sample of 1,033 car owners aged 18 and older. The survey audience was carefully selected to closely match U.S. population demographics. The overall sampling error rate for this survey is +/-3 percent.