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KBB: Memorial Day Shoppers Not Hung Up on Fuel Efficiency

May 25, 2018

Sixty percent of car shoppers and owners surveyed by Kelley Blue Book said recent gas prices have not affected their choice of vehicle. Photo courtesy General Motors Co. 
Sixty percent of car shoppers and owners surveyed by Kelley Blue Book said recent gas prices have not affected their choice of vehicle. Photo courtesy General Motors Co. 

IRVINE, Calif. — In a recent survey of more than 2,600 car shoppers and owners, the majority (60%) of respondents said that rising gas prices “have not played a role in the vehicle he or she is deciding on,” according to Kelley Blue Book (div. Cox Automotive), indicating that larger vehicles should remain popular through Memorial Day weekend and beyond.

“Attention to gas prices is not as high as it used to be, especially as vehicles — even crossovers, SUVs, and pickups — have become more fuel-efficient,” said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor of Kelley Blue Book. “It’s not until the tipping point is reached that consumers get more concerned and evaluate where they can save money with a gas-sipping model. Our survey data indicates that $4 per gallon is the tipping point, and we are not there yet nationally.”

The national average price of a gallon of gasoline has risen steadily since the end of 2017, starting at $2.59 in December and climbing to $2.87 by April, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The KBB survey found that $2.50 is considered a “reasonable” price.

Of the 40% of respondents who said recent gas prices did play a role in their selection, 86% said they are considering more fuel-efficient vehicles. Nearly half (48%) said they are now considering a less expensive vehicle than they originally intended.

DeLorenzo believes retailers who track the effects of fuel prices on vehicle selection stand to benefit from the enhanced market intelligence KBB’s data is intended to provide.

“Dealers can use this information to understand the mindset of today’s car shopper and tout the fuel efficiency of their products,” he said. “It also helps them understand when the consumer might be looking for more fuel-efficient models, which could impact inventory decisions.”

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