New York, New York – High gas prices have persuaded Americans to buy compact cars, but they’re still not interested in subcompacts or alternative vehicles, according to a new study by GfK Custom Research.

In May 2011, compact cars accounted for 18.1 per cent of six-month light vehicle demand, compared to 3.6 per cent for subcompact cars. Alternative vehicles, including hybrids and electrics, represent only 9.4 per cent of light vehicle demand.

The study found that while there is a strong relationship between gas price surges and increases in demand for smaller vehicles, demand for alternative vehicles is hindered by lower familiarity, higher purchase price and lack of convenience.

“For the average consumer looking to purchase a new vehicle, especially during these times of rising gas prices, they see more value in smaller vehicles with traditional gas engines, some of which approach 40 mpg (5.8 L/100 km) rather than hybrids or even electric vehicles,” said Doug Scott, senior vice-president of GfK Automotive. “However, while consumers are looking at smaller vehicles due to high gas prices, they aren’t willing to go all the way down to a subcompact car. Consumers are discovering that newer compact cars offer the comfort features before only reserved to larger cars, combined with the fuel economy that was only available in much smaller cars.”

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