Santa Monica, California – A rise in fuel prices to US$4.00 per gallon in June and July caused a sudden shift in consumer interest towards smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, but this single-minded focus is subsiding as gasoline prices drop, according to U.S. online auto information site Edmunds.com.
“There’s been a rush to small cars, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the shift is permanent,” said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com. “Automakers made some big changes in their production plans based on what happened during the second quarter. Clearly gasoline prices will continue to climb in the long term, but our data calls into question whether consumers’ current preferences will continue in the long term.”
The company tracks consumer interest by measuring its web site traffic to each vehicle segment. The data shows the trend towards small vehicles is levelling off, and interest in previously declining segments, such as compact crossover vehicles, is on the rise. Even interest in the popular hybrid segment is down 34 per cent compared to June, as gas prices have declined.
“High gas prices caused consumers to temporarily forget their other vehicle requirements and consider only fuel efficiency,” said Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor. “With the initial shock fading and gas prices now declining, consumers are again viewing gas consumption as one of many factors when considering their next vehicle.”
The company also said that gas prices, not incentives, are the driving force between recent shifts, noting that interest in many vehicles that carry large incentives continues to drop, while others with low incentives increase in consumer consideration.