New KBB study: High gas prices have buyers rethinking their choices

By Editors on April 20, 2012 7:30 AM

According to the latest Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence survey, rising gasoline prices are having a huge impact on the selection process of the majority of potential new-car buyers. The KBB study found that soaring prices at the pump saw 66 percent of those polled during the first quarter of 2012 either change their minds about which vehicles they were  considering, or start thinking about alternatives they would not have previously considered.

In commenting on the study results, Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's noted that "The rollercoaster of gas prices has taken its toll on new-car shoppers. The reality of today's economy means that many shoppers are factoring in fuel efficiency and gas prices toward the top of things they consider when choosing their next new car. Lucky for them, each year auto manufacturers work increasingly hard to improve fuel economy in their new models, with many gasoline-powered vehicles now achieving 40 mpg or higher, while a handful of alternative-energy vehicles achieve upwards of 100 mpg-equivalent."

The Market Intelligence survey also discovered several other interesting facts about these would-be new-car owners and their current vehicles, which on average were eight model-years old and had 85,328 miles on the odometer. Of the 355 individuals surveyed, 30 percent said their prime purchase motivation was to acquire a newer, lower-mileage vehicle. The second most frequent response, voiced by 19 percent, was the desire to move into something that delivered better fuel economy. Half of the respondents surveyed indicated they intended to trade their current vehicles at a dealer while 23 percent planned selling them to a private party. Given the current scarcity of late-model, low-mileage used vehicles, it was no surprise to find that 24 percent of this group also reported difficulty in finding the specific vehicle they were looking for at their local dealership.