For 4th straight year, mpg is top reason a shopper buys a vehicle
For the fourth straight year, new-vehicles buyers ranked fuel economy as the most influential factor in selecting a vehicle, J.D. Power and Associates said in a new report.
Consumers are “going to own these vehicles for many, many years. They want [mileage] to remain low during their ownership period,” research director Jon Osborn told Automotive News.
The 12th annual Avoider Study was based on responses from almost 30,000 owners who registered a vehicle in April or May 2014 -- before gasoline prices dropped to less than $2 in October, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
The study looks at the reasons consumers purchase, reject or do not consider specific models when shopping for a new vehicle. J.D. Power fielded the study from July to September 2014.
Respondents considered 3.2 vehicles before purchase on average, a number unchanged from a year earlier.
“So getting on the short list is very critical,” Osborn said.
Mileage was the primary purchase reason for new-vehicle owners who bought compact, small and midsize cars and compact MPVs, the study said. Fourteen percent of those surveyed said mileage was the most influential reason for purchasing their specific vehicles. Survey participants also ranked fuel economy as the second-most common reason they rejected certain models after originally considering them.
“Factors such as fuel prices and consumer demand may make these tough standards even harder to achieve, as you can’t mandate what people want to buy,” Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media and marketing at J.D. Power, said in a statement.
Consumers born between 1977 and 1994 make up about 26 percent of the market, Walker added. Demand for larger vehicles will increase with their income, which will put more pressure on automakers to meet federal mandates on mileage, she said.
Hybrids too expensive
Twenty-seven percent of that group does not even consider hybrid vehicles, deeming them too expensive.
Out of all those surveyed, 15 percent did not consider a model because it lacked the latest technology. That percentage is up 11 points from last year, when J.D. Power first asked about the importance of in-vehicle technology, Osborn said.
Fuel economy has been the most influential reason consumers select their vehicles since 2011. In 2010, reliability and freedom from breakdowns ranked most important.
“We were coming off the recession,” Osborn said. “It depends on what’s going on in the marketplace.”
For next year’s study, Osborn predicted that fuel economy will again be an important factor in consumers’ vehicle-buying decisions.
“Gas mileage is going to maintain their low level for several months, if not for the year,” he said.
Exterior aesthetic was the No. 1 reason consumers avoided certain models, with cost and interior aesthetic following .
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