In case you fill up your gas tank so infrequently that you hadn't noticed (lucky you!), fuel prices here in the United States are on their way back up. According to a recent Kelley Blue Book study, 87-percent of new-car shoppers said they thought gas prices would go much higher. Seems like the obvious choice to us, too.
Curious what those expectations for rising fuel costs are having on new-car purchasing decisions? KBB's got a statistic on that, too. More than 60 percent of in-market new-car shoppers said that rising gas prices have either caused them to change their minds completely or at least made them think about vehicles they normally wouldn't have considered. For instance, consumers may opt for a four-cylinder or V6 engine instead of a more powerful and furl-thirsty V8.

KBB's data further indicates that $3 gallons of gas may be the new tipping point that will get consumers to alter their spending habits. See more in the official press release after the break.

[Source: KBB]
Photo by Peter Kaminski. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

PRESS RELEASE:

Kbb.com Market Intelligence Survey Shows Shoppers Likely to Change Vehicle Choices, Spending Habits as Gas Prices Rise

IRVINE, Calif., June 12 -- Kelley Blue Book, www.kbb.com, a leading provider of new car and used car information, today announces the results of the latest Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence survey of in-market new-car shoppers on kbb.com, detailing consumers' opinions on gas prices and how they affect their purchase decisions.

When asked in May 2009 what they think will happen with gas prices in the next 30 days, 87 percent of new-car shoppers said they thought gas prices would go much higher, a significant jump from the 66 percent who thought gas prices would increase just a month earlier.

In both April and May, more than 60 percent of in-market new-car shoppers said that rising gas prices have either caused them to change their minds or made them think about vehicles they normally wouldn't have considered. When asked what they would be most likely to compromise in their next new-vehicle purchase in order to save money they might need to spend on fuel, shoppers cited engine size (for example, a four-cylinder versus a V6 or V8) as the top item likely to be sacrificed, followed closely by vehicle size (for example, a mid-size sedan versus a large sedan).

In addition, 73 percent of those who saw gas prices increasing in May said they plan to change their spending habits if gas prices were to go much higher.

"As summer approaches with household budgets still pinched by the weak economy, car buyers are once again becoming very conscious of rising gas prices," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. "While we may not see the $5-per-gallon gas experienced in some areas last year, current economic conditions compounded by the pain at the pump may make $3-per-gallon gas a new threshold for car buyers - the point at which they change their mind about what vehicle to buy and how they spend their money."

The April wave of this Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence study was fielded to 691 in-market new-car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com from April 16-27, 2009. The May wave of the study was fielded to 753 in-market new-car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com from May 15-26, 2009.

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