IRVINE, Calif. — A new Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence survey indicates that new-car and used-car shoppers have drastically changed their minds about the fate of gas prices in the near-term. The KBB study shows that 52 percent of car shoppers say they think gas prices will either stay the same or go down in the next 30 days. 

The number of respondents who say gas prices have changed their mind about vehicles they are considering has decreased from 35 percent in April to 30 percent in May. Consumers also indicate they are feeling better about their current economic situation, according to the study. 

In addition, the number of respondents rating their personal economic situation as “poor” has decreased from 27 percent in February to 21 percent in May. Concern about the ability to qualify for an auto loan has decreased from 27 percent in January to 17 percent in May. The study also shows a 10 percent decrease in the number of respondents indicating a purchase delay from 62 percent in January to 52 percent in May.

"Prices at the pump have halted their steep rise and now gas prices are slowly going down in many parts of the country, and the latest survey results show that car shoppers are taking note," said Jack R. Nerad, executive market analyst for  "If consumers feel more optimistic about the near-future state of gas prices and more confident in their personal economic situations, this will bode well for the automotive industry, though declining home values present a continuing concern. Vehicle availability issues caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami also could blunt gains to be expected from increased car-buyer confidence."

The study indicated that if prices remained around $3.27 per gallon, car shoppers likely would not make major changes in vehicle consideration criteria, but at the $4 per gallon price point, 66 percent of consumers will feel that gas is so expensive it will affect their vehicle consideration. At $5 per gallon, 90 percent of respondents say their vehicle consideration will be affected. 

The latest Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence report surveyed 467 in-market new- and used-car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book's from May 17-19, 2011.