Gasoline Prices Don’t Really Impact Vehicle Choice Till $3/Gallon

January 24th, 2017 by  on

Gasoline prices need to be at least $3 a gallon before they begin impacting consumer vehicle purchase choice in the US, according to a new study from the market research firm MaritzCX.

Once this $3 a gallon threshold is surpassed, fuel economy begins getting cited by consumers as a major factor in vehicle purchase choice, according to the study. What this means in practice is that we will have to wait until gas prices go over $3 a gallon before the current SUV and truck crazes begin dying down somewhat.

Wards Auto provides more: “Over the past 10 years, fuel economy, more than any other purchase consideration, has climbed up and down the importance scale. It has soared like a rocketing pheasant to No.1 any time gasoline exceeds $3 a gallon. It has dropped to as low as No.10 when pump prices go under $2.50. … The survey of new-car buyers says chief reasons for buying a vehicle include quality and value for the money. Only 4% cited fuel economy in 2016.”

That about matches up with my experience. The only people nowadays who seem to care about fuel economy that I talk to are those that work for on-demand taxi service firms (Uber, Lyft, etc.). No one else seems to care, and most will shrug when queried on the matter.

So, it looks like fuel economy won’t matter to Americans again until gas prices go back up. When will that happen? When will gas prices go back above $3? That’s a hard question to answer, but don’t be too surprised if it’s within only 2–3 years. …