New Car Fuel Economy Still Important To Buyers

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Originally posted on CleanTechnica

Consumers tend to have short memories and fickle buying habits. Just a few years ago when gas prices were peaking near $5.00 a gallon in some places, buyers flocked to fuel-efficient hybrids and now, plug-in cars. Now that gas prices have gone lower, SUV and truck sales have seen an uptick. But fuel economy still plays a big role in car-buying decisions.

The Car Connection reports that a study by J.D. Power & Associates says that new car buyers are still paying close attention to fuel economy figures. A study of over 30,000 car owners found that at least 14% said fuel economy was their highest priority in a new car, and another 16% cited poor fuel economy as a reason to not buy a certain car. Taken together, one could surmise that fuel economy probably makes up about one-third of the car-buying decision process these days. No wonder the EPA is paying closer attention to the ratings automakers are giving themselves

There is, however, an important caveat, as this study was taken between April and May of 2014, a time when fuel prices were creeping upwards, albeit slowly. Since the end of summer, the cost of gas has gone down by about 50%, which seems to have hurt hybrid car sales but helped move SUVs, trucks, and most surprisingly, plug-in cars. Americans trends and tastes can shift in a matter of weeks, nevermind months, and if low gas prices persist well into 2015, will it affect the importance buyers place on fuel economy ratings?

Hopefully not. My fellow Americans would do well to remember that high gas prices are almost certainly going to come back sooner, rather than later, and the progress of the past five years isn’t wiped out by a discount at the pump.

Image: Gas pump via Shutterstock

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.