August 8, 2011
Are Drivers Today Immune to High Fuel Prices?
TUSTIN, Calif. (August 8, 2011) - AutoPacific regularly tracks the impact of fuel prices on the types of vehicles Americans will consider buying. The results for the just completed July 2011 Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) show very interesting results.
Around 25% of drivers surveyed still want an SUV or crossover for their next vehicle, and 14% want a pickup truck—both remaining virtually unchanged compared to drivers surveyed in July 2010 despite fuel costs skyrocketing over a dollar more per gallon this summer. And while small cars promise high fuel economy, only 16% of respondents said they plan to purchase one for their next vehicle.
Manufacturers are finding more ways to squeeze additional horsepower and/or greater efficiency out of the tried and true internal combustion engine. From turbo charging and direct injection to cylinder deactivation and fuel shut-off at low speeds and idle, drivers are learning that they do not necessarily have to give up their big vehicles in the name of fuel economy.
$4/Gallon Gas Has Not Changed What Drivers Want Powering Their Vehicles: In July 2010, drivers surveyed were paying $2.77/gallon for gas but paid $3.70 in July 2011. Despite this spike, future-vehicle-powertrain intentions have remained virtually unchanged compared to last summer. About 23% of July 2011 respondents say they want a 4-cylinder engine in their next vehicle - identical to July 2010. Moreover, 15% still want a V8 engine, only a two-percentage point drop from July 2010.
Today Going Green May be in Vogue but Spending a lot of Green is Not: During the summer of 2008 fuel prices spiked to $4.11 per gallon nationally, and hybrid consideration peaked at 25%. Fuel prices have been hovering around $4/gallon this summer but hybrid consideration has remained at just 10%. Drivers today know that purchasing hybrids may be good for the environment but not necessarily good for their wallets. During these tough economic times drivers appear to be opting for what is best for their own economic well-being rather than paying more for green eco-friendliness.
Americans are Back to Dropping a Heavy Foot on the Accelerator Pedal: In July 2008 when fuel prices peaked, half (50%) of those surveyed said that they were driving slower than usual to compensate for the relatively high fuel prices. In July 2011 only 36% of those surveyed are slowing down. Higher fuel prices now generally force drivers to combine trips instead (51%) and just drive less (41%), while only 5% say they carpool more often--a sign that convenience may triumph over saving money.
Fuel Prices are Helping to Drive Aftermarket Purchase Intentions: In July 2011, nearly one in ten (9%) say they plan to modify their current vehicle with aftermarket products, hoping to improve fuel economy. Of those planning to make a purchase, air intake upgrades top their choice for modifications. Aftermarket modifications have historically been performed by enthusiasts seeking to enhance the performance of their car or truck. Drivers are now learning that even some simple modifications like air intake upgrades or retuning their engine computer can also help to improve the fuel economy of their beloved rides.
About Fuel Price Impact Study
Since 2005, AutoPacific has conducted an Internet-based fuel price impact survey every two months, drawing respondents from its VehicleVoice Internet Automotive Survey Panel. The objective is to determine the impact of volatile and rising fuel prices on American drivers and to determine what impact fuel prices would have on product segment and powertrain choices. The study also examines the impact of fuel prices on driving behavior, attitudes about various issues surrounding driving in America, and automotive aftermarket purchase intentions. The full results of the study are available via subscription.
AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm, founded in 1986, also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters and its state-of-the-art automotive research facility are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information can be found on AutoPacific's websites: http://www.autopacific.com and http://vehiclevoice.com/
Dan Hall, AutoPacific, (714) 838-4234, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Grieb, AutoPacific, (734) 446-6940, email@example.com