Consumers not quite attracted by fuel-efficient and hybrid cars due to fuel prices

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 19, 2011

Quite a lot of people have exclaimed that sales of fuel-efficient vehicles will surge as fuel prices go up but the truth is that it actually hasn’t gone up that much, according to a study conducted by the consultant firm AutoPacific of buyer behavior.

At a symposium, AutoPacific President George Peterson said that “small car and hybrid consideration is not tracking anywhere near the rate of the price of fuel as it did in 2008.” It found out that just 21% of car owners would seriously consider a hybrid or a compact car like a Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Jetta, or Ford Focus.

In comparison, 34% of car owners thought about buying these vehicles in 2008, which is when gasoline prices were at their highest. AutoPacific surveyed 68,000 consumers in the first quarter to get these results.

Peterson explained that the gasoline price hike in 2008 created a “panic” wherein consumers bought Toyota Priuses and replaced their Chevrolet Suburbans with very fuel-efficient crossover wagons. He added that consumers became aware that prices fell later that year.

There had been major improvements in fuel efficiency, permitting the companies to keep their larger vehicles that match their lifestyle. In addition, AutoPacific data indicate that rising interest in compact cars is the result of the appeal of higher-performance engines and added content instead of wanting better fuel economy.

But as a segment, compact and hybrid vehicles are still anticipated to expand. AutoPacific forecasts that the hybrid vehicles (including mild hybrids) will increase from 300,000 units in 2011 to 1.3 million units in 2016. With this rate of growth, it means that hybrid systems will be everywhere.

Topics: hybrid, price

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