Gas Prices Prompt Car-Buying Change

The cost of gas is getting to people. Almost three-quarters of drivers are willing to consider alternatively fueled vehicles for their next car purchase, with younger buyers leading the way, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

In general, 37% said their leading concern when shopping for a new car is fuel economy and two-thirds expect their next vehicle to get fuel mileage than their current car. After fuel economy, the second biggest consideration for a new car is quality (17%), followed by safety (16%), value (14%) and performance (6%).

"These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations," said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor.  "While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump."

Gasoline costs are overwhelmingly the biggest reason for wanting a more fuel efficient car, with 90% of respondents citing it. But more than half also gave other reasons such as wanting to be more environmentally friendly (62%) and being concerned about dependence on foreign oil (56%). In general, women were more concerned than men about the latter two reasons.

The alternatively fueled vehicles that are getting the most interest are flex-fuel or hybrids, and those under the age of 55 are more likely to consider buying one of them than someone over the age of 55.

Unsurprisingly, owners of large SUVs reported being the most open to downsizing, but typically just to a smaller SUV.

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