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Every month, Ward's Auto posts its Fuel Economy Index (FEI) numbers. Last time around, we noted that Ward's witnessed a decrease in buyer interest in fuel-efficient vehicles. While the numbers did indicate that overall fuel efficiency was still on the rise, it was also evident that buyers were opting for larger, less efficient vehicles. The FEI numbers posted for May are even more disturbing.

As the numbers show, vehicles with a rating of 30-plus miles per gallon have suffered a dramatic drop in sales. For the first five months of 2010, sales of vehicles with that 30-plus MPG rating have dropped by 10 percent compared to the same period in 2009. Overall, these high-efficiency cars accounted for four percent of the market in 2009, but now only hold a three percent share. A few of these efficient vehicles suffered mightily: sales of the Toyota Camry Hybrid dropped 40 percent, Civic Hybrid sales plummeted by 77 percent and Honda Fit numbers fell off by 19.7 percent. Ward's Auto suggests that low gas prices have led to the decreased interest in fuel-efficient vehicles, which, can lead right into a discussion about the need for a gas tax once again.

[Source: Ward's Auto – sub. req.]


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  • 36 Comments
      clipsinite
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well, that's because the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid are really bad deals and aren't really much of an improvement over other drivetrain options. The Fit, meanwhile, looks like a minivan. The Honda Insight is also the worst car I've ever driven. Considering that you can get a Prius for less than the price of a Civic Hybrid and a much better Ford Fusion Hybrid for a $2000 more than the Camry hybrid, it's just stupid to even consider the Civic or Camry as options.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This sounds like cherry picking. Why don't you mention the Toyota Prius (up 41% from last May)? I remember in 2009 before the new Prius and Insight were out. All the so-called experts were saying how hybrids were only relevant when gas prices were high. They made no mention of those two cars. I know I was waiting. My actual dream car is an AWD plug-in hybrid hatchback with 5-star crash test results in its 2nd year of production.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ward's Auto is just another automotive advertisement magazine. Just like Cosmo and Vogue... it exists only to provide sponsors with a mouthpiece.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Not only cherry picking, but also assigning the same reason to every variation. The Civics are in their last model year of this generation. People know that. Duh. People don't want to be driving what looks like an old model after six months and sales on the last model year are always down.

        And what brainiac under the rock at Wards does not realize that people are economizing because of the recession? That could be the main explanation. The low income folks who would buy these economical cars are either unemployed, working reduced hours, or scared they might not be able to finish the payments in what many pundits are now calling a double dip recession..
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope this isn't true on many levels. first of all 30mpg is not high mileage, second if it's only 3% of the market then usa is much much stupider than I thought and that's not really possible.
      let's see the data. writers are not exactly known for getting their facts straight
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dan, until you learn how to use commas and write in complete sentences, I don't think you're in any position to correct grammar on here. ;-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL

        And while i'm at it..

        "no I don't wonder about factual reasons of opposition to my ideas. there are no factual reasons. the opposition is mindlessness."

        ^--- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandiosity

        ^--- http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/arrogance

        Your welcome.
        • 4 Years Ago
        it's you're. not your.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "if Obama wasn't such a douche he would educate your sorry asses."

        That's my vote for the Dan F quote of the day!

        LOL.

        • 4 Years Ago
        no I don't wonder about factual reasons of opposition to my ideas. there are no factual reasons. the opposition is mindlessness. not sure being overlooked by an SUV has even been mentioned among the many kneejerk objections of the past.

        if a porsche sized car can be overlooked then things obviously have to change.
        but of course it wouldn't be overlooked.

        and my suggestions are not unrealistic, it's just a matter of doing it. if Obama wasn't such a douche he would educate your sorry asses. just talking to the ignorant will help a lot. as long as noone tells them thery are idiots they wont realize it on their own.

        all he has to do is talk to you. tell you there is this thing called global warming and you importa a lot of oil from terrorist countries and people who drive dumbass V8s are funding terrorist. that should fry a few circuits in their nitwit brains
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm sure it's more %.

        But 30mpg is actually... sadly.... really good for here.

        ...

        Until gas hikes up to double the price again and the used lots are full of SUVs / Trucks again.

        We have a short memory here. And no tax structure that forces us to buy small cars, unlike the rest of the world. Half the cars on the road are SUVs. It sickens me.

        Now you wonder why everyone on here thinks your ultra light weight EV is incredibly unrealistic.. maybe it's cool for Europe, but one wrong move and you'd be flatter than a pancake out here. Plus, the SUV drivers probably can't see a car that low.

        sh**'s gotta change here.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I presume the 30mpg is combined. And 30mpg combined is a pretty high mileage vehicle. The Civic is only 29!
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you wanna see how far down the rabbit hole Dan goes...

        http://green.autoblog.com/2010/06/07/video-monsterbike-proves-bigger-isnt-always-better/2

        Everyone is "mindless", He is is enlightened, and companies that don't make the cars he thinks should be made, are evil.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Are we(the USA), that stupid as a nation or what? How do you call $3 a gallon,cheap? I know other nations pay more than $7 per gallon. But if you own a gas guzzling truck and drive it 15,000 miles a year, you could be paying upwards of $3000 just to fuel it! That is F#@%ing stupid!
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Are we(the USA), that stupid as a nation or what?"

        Yes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Americans have Alzheimer's when it comes to gas prices.

        When we forget that $3/gal is expensive... the oil companies start measuring the the next higher size to shove up our butts without lube. $4/gal.

        Take a deep breath.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, we are that stupid. Today's Americans are like some spoiled rich kid who is rapidly burning through his inheritance with a sense of entitlement. Eventually, the money will run out and there will be a reckoning. We've already had a taste of it but more is to come.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Another factor not being considered here: some people need larger vehicles. The prius isn't very practical on a farm, or going down a logging road, or moving large amounts of stuff. I'm looking at full size pickups not because I want to spend more on fuel, but because I need a vehicle of that size. Give me a vehicle that meets my needs and gets 30+ MPG and you will have a customer. I'm still waiting for low-sulfur diesel to show up in the market segment...I'd love to by a more efficent cargo hauler.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Pointing out that people are not buying economical cars when gas prices go down is not a "rah-rah" for sellers of big cars, it's just an observation of fact. Come on... when they report that texting and driving accidents are on the rise, will this make them a supporter of cellphone companies?

      Many of us have been tracking this trend. When fuel prices shot up, sales of Honda Fits went into overdrive. Then the economy collapsed. People stopped buying new cars.

      Now, to the recovery... people who CAN buy bigger cars are slowly starting to buy them again. These same people have enough money to spend on the hybrid premium, and are spending on the hybrid premium. Cars like the Honda Fit are still stuck in the doldrums.

      People who buy more economical cars... which are usually cheap cars, aren't wasting money at the moment, so the sales of NEW Honda Fits are pretty bad. Small cars, in general, haven't been recovering in terms of market volume as quickly as bigger cars.

      And thanks to cheap gas, people who can afford cheap cars are more encouraged to buy less economical cars with more space for the money. Obviously, if you aren't making enough money to afford something better, you probably don't have the financial sense to realize that gas isn't always going to stay this cheap.

      -

      Gas tax really is the only fair way to assess road usage. Drop the "guzzler" tax and road taxes... tax people on the amount of fuel they use. Drop hybrid and electric incentives... the incentive to buy these cars will come from the fact that you're not paying a ridiculous tax on fuel.

      Simply, that person who "needs" a honking big SUV to haul ten people around will be paying less tax per passenger mile than the lady commuting solo in a Prius in the high-occupancy lane to her next lunch date.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dealerships are being given larger and larger incentives to sell the bigger cars and SUVs. They sat on the lots when the economy sank. So it is time to get rid of them.

      • 4 Years Ago
      It's not all that difficult to understand:

      1) A 50% increase in fuel mileage (20 to 30 mpg, i.e.) still only accounts for a total fuel cost differential over 100,000 miles of around three thousand dollars. A notable, but still minor, influence on a decision when spending tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle.

      2) To get that increase, they buyer is asked to give up a considerable amount of space, comfort, performance, and amenities that quite clearly a lot of car buyers value more than the few thousand dollars' worth of fuel-cost savings. Some also perceive (rightly or wrongly) small light cars as less safe.

      3) Have you noticed that large vehicles, especially full-sized pickups and SUVs, are highly sales-incented just now? Multiple thousands of dollars in discounts, cash-back, and other up-front cost perks speak more loudly to a buying public than does the same amount of money spread over the vehicle lifetime, especially when money and credit are tight right now.

      4) Contrary to a lot of the groupthink here (unavoidable within an interest group), not very many people, as a portion of the total population, are all that wrapped up in 'green' issues when it comes down to a money decision in the four- and five-figure range. A drop of a segment's market-share from 4% to 3% shows that not much of the total market really is interested in whatever differentiates that segment.

      There are other influences (like the common perception that larger vehicles last longer), but they are likely less directly responsible.

      Anyone who picks a car solely based on a marginal difference in fuel economy is either being monetarily foolish, or has an excess emotional investment in 'green' issues, since their individual emissions don't amount to a flatulence in a wind tunnel.
        • 4 Years Ago
        1)

        Your math is bad!
        @ $3/gal the fuel savings is $5,000 over the course of 100,000 miles.
        AND
        @ $4/gal the fuel savings is ~$6,700 over the course of 100,000 miles.
        @ $5/gal the fuel savings is $~8,300 over the course of 100,000 miles.

        So the buyer must ask themselves.... where are gas prices likely to fall on average the next 8 years?

        A shortsighted buyer doesn't know to ask.

        2)
        Good engineering means the driver doesn't give up anything. Some poor designs do not convict the whole lot.

        3)
        Larger vehicles have much larger profit margins. So during the economic crisis, automakers can afford to give dealerships more discounts on such fat profit maker models.

        4)
        - "contrary to a lot of the groupthink here"
        Group Think is a lot weaker than Television Advertisements.

        The ignorant masses follow the marketing campaigns more than their own financial sense preservation (political campaigns are proof of this).

        And since Large vehicles have the biggest margin for profit... automakers push them harder in advertisements. What the customers sees, the customer wants.

        If greener cars were pushed with as much advertisement, they would sell better. But marketing firms all know, "demand is under their influence".

        ------------------------

        So, I have shown how your "marginal difference in fuel economy" is actually a lot larger than your remedial math lead you to believe. And that choice between poor fuel economy and good fuel economy is less in the heads of consumers, but more in will of marketing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For me, it's not about better gas mileage, it's all about moving beyond petroleum!

      What would happen if everyone replaced 20mpg cars with 30mpg cars? We'll still be dependent on foreign oil. Our economy will still be at the mercy of OPEC. They can keep prices high by restricting supply to match the reduction in demand. So, nothing really changes.

      That's why I cheer for EVs, not hybrids.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, let's go Beyond Petroleum!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am a fan of emerging new technologies, but I get so sick of hippies always clamoring for a new or increased tax on gas or other things. If you want a socialist nation that taxes everything down to the air we breathe, move to China or Cuba. This is a free nation built on capitalist principles!
        • 4 Years Ago
        If the USA put a tax on ignorance, clearly all our budget deficit problems would be solved.

        P.S. Your homework for today is to look up socialism in the dictionary and realize that it's not at all what you think it is, nor is this country close IN THE SLIGHTEST to becoming a socialist nation.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Free nation? What rock are you living under. Have you tried lately to go to the gulf of mexico to see whats going on? You will find out pretty fast how "free" you are in this country. And I am sick of Ignorants like you buying all that gas that ends up financing terrorism against US and supports corporate interests undermining our very freedom as individuals. Oil as a resource is too valuable to mindlessly burn it for propulsion. I say tax it and cut all direct and indirect subsidies to big oil. This is capitalism, man; you still have your free choice to buy it, you just got to pay to play!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amazing, another "socialism" accusation straight from the right-wing fear-mongers.

        # Raising efficiency standards (as is done everywhere else) is a must to reduce our trade deficit, and out subsidies to hostile or repressive regimes.

        # Raising efficiency, or increasing taxes on fuel has absolutely nothing to do with "socialism".

        -
        Now what is it with you "freedom loving" people? Don't you f-ing understand that our very freedom is threatened by enormously influential oil firms, and that we were misled into an oil war with no end because of that very reason? What don't you understand?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Socialist...no way. You're sooooo right...


        Although, we've rationed gas in the past, lowered the national speed limit and taken other steps to preserve petroleum. Wait, this isn't some socialist crap...this is (un)common sense.

        Not one person in 1,000 in the US have any idea just how economically dependent on oil we have become. We should all be trying to use less, but to do that would be un-American...

        I think it's safe to lump you into the average-American crowd...and by that I mean: fat, lazy, and intellectually deficient...


        Our entire way of life, our economy, and our growth as a nation is all tied to cheap petroleum, and if we don't adjust accordingly in very short order, we're going to have another very big economic problem on our hands...
      • 4 Years Ago
      This contradicts everything else I have read...hmmmmm
        • 4 Years Ago
        "May 2010 Dashboard: Hybrid Car Sales Rebound"
        http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-clean-diesel-sales-dashboard/may-2010.html

        But the only info from WardAuto without a subscription is "Vehicles with a 30-plus mpg rating on Ward’s Fuel Economy Index lost 23.5% of their year-to-date market share in the year’s first five months". That's pretty depressing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL. The author misrepresents the article from Ward's Auto.

        According to Ward's Auto, the dropped in sales of Camry hybrid is more than offset by increased sales of redesigned Prius (not debuted until sometime May last year?); the dropped in Civic hybrid sales is partly made up by 61% increase in sales of Insight.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yet another example of using numbers to say whatever the **** you want them to say.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmm.... not one word about our Economic Crisis?

      That couldn't be the reason, could it

      Another Ward's Auto piece to tell us that Big cars are still king. Buy more, spend money on our sponsors, please.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Everyone here is aware of the law of diminishing returns, right? Drive 100 miles in a 10mpg car, you use 10 gallons of gas. Increase that to 30mpg, you save 6 2/3 gallons. Pretty good. But when you make the sacrifices necessary to get from 30 to 40mpg, you save less than a gallon of gas (from 3 1/3 to 2 1/2 gallons over 100 miles). It's just not worth it.
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