Fuel economy tops U.S. auto buyers' wants, Consumer Reports says
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Automobile owners in the U.S. see fuel economy as the leading element they will consider this year in purchasing their next car, according to a survey by Consumer Reports.
Of 1,702 car owners interviewed, 37 percent cited fuel economy as the top concern, the product tester and magazine publisher said in an e-mailed statement today. Quality was cited as the main reason by 17 percent of respondents, followed by safety at 16 percent and value at 14 percent.
The results echo findings in similar studies, showing fuel economy's importance to buyers has been rising with the price of gasoline. In the summer of 2009, 46 percent of new-car buyers told Consumer Reports that fuel economy was their No. 1 priority. Quality, safety and price were close behind.
"These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations," Jeff Bartlett, deputy auto editor of Consumer Reports, said in an e-mailed statement. "This may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump."
U.S. auto sales are on pace to reach 14.3 million cars and light trucks this year, the best showing since 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Annual sales are tracking for a third-straight gain of at least 10 percent, only the fourth such streak since the Great Depression.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted the survey in April, when the national price for regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.89 a gallon, according to AAA, the nation's largest motoring group. The average peaked this year at $3.94 on April 4, according to the group.
Automotive News staff contributed to this report.Contact Automotive News