Most new-vehicle buyers say the recent fuel price surge will unlikely influence their vehicle purchasing decision, a new study indicates.
Kelley Blue Book's Current Events Panel study found that more than 20 percent of respondents expect fuel to "move up significantly in the coming year," while 60 percent of respondents reported that it is unlikely that the recent surges will play a pay a part in the type of vehicle they are considering.
"What we see now is more of the sport utility vehicle [and] crossover vehicles are built on car platforms, and they get much better vehicle economy, in fact there isn't much penalty between a midsize sedan and a compact sport utility," Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader, told Automotive News. "Despite the rise in gas prices, people still want the versatility and practicality of those utility vehicles."
The study also found that an acceptable price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.50, according to respondents, and the ceiling for when fuel cost would become a big factor when purchasing a new vehicle, is the $4-per-gallon mark.
The respondents who did indicate that higher fuel prices have influenced the vehicle they are considering are "now likely looking at smaller, less expensive, more efficient transportation."
On Wednesday, officials from NHTSA and the EPA were scheduled to meet with members of the California Air Resources Board to discuss a proposal to loosen fuel economy and emission standards.
In a poll on Kelley Blue Book's website, when asked if the rising price of gas will make them consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle, results were a mixed bag.
"They haven't been high for long enough that we would see any change and I think the desirability of crossover vehicles and various utility vehicles outweighs concerns about higher gas costs," Krebs said.
Analysts at Kelley Blue Book believe fuel prices would need to jump more than 35 percent from current levels to make a dent in the industry. But even so, a change in the type of vehicle is not set in stone.
"The average age of a vehicle on the road today is ten years old," Krebs said. "You might be better off, if you're so concerned about fuel economy -- and people aren't as concerned about fuel economy right now as they used to be -- buying one of the newer versions because it gets better fuel economy."