Consumers in the United States are not so positive that gas prices in the country would remain low, according to a national survey by the Consumer Federation of America. The survey showed that consumers believe that two years from now, gas prices will surge 50 percent to $3.20 and 80 percent to $3.90 five years from today.
Mark Cooper, director of research at CFA, noted that consumer expectations do match the last major drop and surge in gas prices (2009-2014), adding that consumers understand that when gas goes down, it would also go up. The CFA also analyzed the last drop and surge in gas prices. In January 2009, the monthly average price of gas was at $1.84 a gallon.
In 2014, the monthly average jumped $3.36. Back in 2009, low gas prices had more consumers buy lower mileage vehicles. Five years later, these lower mileage vehicles proved to be a financial burden. In fact, a consumer who purchased a 15-mpg vehicle in 2009 would shell out $6,400 more over five years than someone who acquired a 25 mpg vehicle.
According to the CFA, at the time, a consumer could choose between vehicles with 15 mpg and 25 mpg, without moving to a different class. Cooper remarked purchasing an inefficient vehicle when gas prices are low “condemns” the consumer to wider swings in monthly costs, higher monthly peaks and an overall hike in lifetime gas costs.
CFA also compared the five-year gas costs of buying an 18 mpg vehicle versus buying a 28 mpg vehicle now. Using the average prices projected by consumers in the survey, CFA said that a buyer of an 18 mpg vehicle would spend $5,000 more on gas in the next five years than a buyer of a 28 mpg vehicle.
Jack Gillis, director of public affairs at CFA, noted that today, it has become easy to make a fuel-efficient choice within nearly every vehicle category. According to the survey, consumers wanted the gas mileage of their vehicles to be 30 mpg, compared to the 25 mpg of their current units. He said that it is no surprise that consumers want more fuel efficiency although the current gas prices are low.