April 25, 2006

Car sales remain stable despite rising gas prices

Westlake Village, California – Despite rising gas prices, U.S. consumers are still buying about the same proportion of new vehicles equipped with eight-, six- or four-cylinder engines as they did in the Summer of 2005, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network (PIN).

In the first three months of 2006, nearly one-quarter of all new vehicles purchased by U.S. consumers were equipped with eight-cylinder engines. In July, August and September of 2005, sales rates of eight-cylinder vehicles were 28, 23 and 24 per cent respectively.

New cars and light trucks with six-cylinder engines also remained constant, accounting for 40 to 42 per cent of all new-vehicle retail sales during the past nine months. Four-cylinder engines comprised about 30 to 33 per cent overall.

“Gas prices are certainly becoming a popular dinner and water cooler discussion topic, but consumers appear to be conditioned to prices at current levels,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting. “We do not expect a significant change in the kinds of vehicles consumers purchase as a result. It is, and will be, all about choice for consumers. There are several smaller vehicle options coming, as well as fresh products in the full-size SUV segment.”

Additionally, the days-to-turn rate (the number of days a vehicle spends on a dealership lot) has remained constant for each category. Eight-cylinder engines have turned about every 68 to 74 days; six-cylinders every 61 to 68 days; and four-cylinders every 39 to 49 days. The overall industry average is 59 to 65 days.

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