Gas Prices Drive Interest in Fuel Efficient Cars

By  | 

High gas prices may be driving you mad, but they haven't seemed to drive down sales of the nation's biggest gas-guzzling cars. That may soon change.

Juanita Johnson wants to buy a larger car to replace her small two-seater, but she doesn't want to pay significantly more at the gas pump.

"The gas prices have gone up and I use regular gas. Right now, I'm going to have to find a car that's good on gas mileage," she says.

Juanita Johnson is not alone. A new study by the Kelly Blue Book and Harris Interactive released this week says nearly 40 percent of new car buyers are paying more attention to fuel economy because of the high fuel prices.

Seventeen percent of those surveyed say they changed their mind about their car of choice because of high gas prices, and 21 percent say are now strongly considering cars they wouldn't have considered in the past.

Car dealer Jonathan Taylor says he can't quantify it, but he has noticed some aspect of the trend here in Marianna.

"Seeing that the gas prices have been going up a little lately, people really concerned about that and they're coming in and looking for a small or mid-size vehicles that get better gas mileage up to 35 miles per gallon, even some up to 40 miles per gallon," says car dealer Jonathan Taylor.

But just down the street, another dealer says his SUVs and trucks are still the most popular cars on his lot.

"We haven't noticed it here, in fact, it seems the bigger vehicle, the faster they sell."

Industry experts explain the apparent contradiction saying that big-car buyers are also more actively seeking better fuel economy.

Even if they're not ready to downsize, carmakers are trying to accommodate buyers’ fuel cost concerns with better gas and electric hybrids including a new Ford hybrid SUV.