The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Survey: $3-Plus Per Gallon Gas Is Tipping Point for Many Consumers

December 15, 2005

CHICAGO --- More than 70 percent of consumers said gasoline prices would have to rise higher than $3 a gallon before they would be motivated to replace their current vehicle with a more fuel-efficient alternative, according to a recent survey. The survey focused on the future effect of gas prices on consumer buying habits. Of that 70 percent, 30 percent said gas prices would have to hit $4 a gallon before they would take action. However, many people already have been affected by the high cost of gasoline. More than 14 percent of those surveyed said they have already replaced their car because of high gas prices. "The survey is very consistent with what we are seeing on our Web site when it comes to searches for fuel-efficient vehicles," said Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor at "When gasoline prices briefly touched $3 a gallon, searches for fuel-efficient vehicles skyrocketed. Those searches then dropped off as gasoline prices began to fall." The vast majority of consumers (82 percent) said that fuel efficiency of 25 miles per gallon or higher is adequate for any vehicle they currently own or are planning to purchase. Thirty percent of respondents said 30 to 35 mpg would be adequate, while more than 27 percent said they are looking for a car that gets more than 35 mpg. In order to save money at the pump on a regular basis, a majority of consumers (63 percent) said they would consider a hybrid vehicle for their next purchase. Of the consumers who said they have no interest in hybrid vehicles, 75 percent wouldn't go that route either because hybrids are too expensive or because the consumer isn't comfortable with the technology and wants to wait until manufacturers work out the bugs. What are consumers willing to give up to achieve better fuel efficiency? More than 38 percent said they would sacrifice vehicle size, and more than 26 percent said they would give up acceleration. Roughly one in five said they wouldn't sacrifice anything to get better gas mileage. The fuel-efficiency survey was conducted online by Impulse Research Corp. using a random sample of 1,515 U.S. residents who either recently purchased a vehicle or plan to purchase a vehicle in the next year.
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