Gas Up, Car Sales Down: Consumers Choose Differently

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Here’s some not so surprising news from the publishers of Kelly Blue Book, the authority on resale auto values, consumers have changed their minds about what vehicle they wish to purchase based on the rising costs of fuel. About 66% of consumers who planned to purchase a new car or truck in this first quarter of 2012 have considered vehicles which were not real options for them in the past or have simply decided not to buy at all.

Over three quarters of these consumers are being realistic, and believe gas prices will continue to rise over the next thirty days. Surprisingly, only about 20% of shoppers said they were looking for a vehicle that would give them better gas mileage. A majority (30%) of consumers cited high mileage as a reason for wanting to trade in or sell their current vehicles. The average ride was about eight model years old, with over 85,00 miles on it.

Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com comments ton the trend in vehicle sales:

"The rollercoaster of gas prices has taken its toll on new-car shoppers,"

"The reality of today's economy means that many shoppers are factoring in fuel efficiency and gas prices toward the top of things they consider when choosing their next new car. Lucky for them, each year auto manufacturers work increasingly hard to improve fuel economy in their new models, with many gasoline-powered vehicles now achieving 40 mpg or higher, while a handful of alternative-energy vehicles achieve upwards of 100 mpg-equivalent."

The three most important factors consumers are taking into account when shopping for a new vehicle include warranty, fuel mileage, and power/locks. Very interesting, I would think fuel economy would be the number one concern given the drastic increase in fuel costs over the last ninety days.

When considering a new vehicle it is important to weigh the total cost of ownership over the duration. Maintenance can be a real killer on some vehicles once they are out of warranty, and an extra five miles per gallon can save you hundreds over the course of a couple years. Look at the hidden costs before you sign on the bottom line. I would bet on gas prices being higher in the future, so if the vehicle you want already stretches your budget, reconsider.