The December 2007 results reveal that 44 percent of new vehicle shoppers are looking at cars they normally would not have considered due to high prices at the pump. An example of this is a notable shift in vehicle segment consideration form just two month ago. There is now increased interest in less expensive and more fuel-efficient transportation including crossovers, sedans and hatchbacks. Interest in purchasing SUVs has declined.
With the price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline hovering at more than $3.00 in most parts of the country, 67 percent of those in the market for a new vehicle indicate they will not spend less on holiday gifts this year due to the rising cost of gasoline. However, more than 40 percent say they are eating out less often and nearly 50 percent say they are buying less non-essential retail items such as clothes and shoes; further examples of consumers cutting back on self-shopping.
According to new-car shoppers, the largest shift in personal spending includes delaying the purchase of a new home. That number doubled from October to December.
"While gasoline prices are clearly influencing the way consumers plan to spend money on themselves. Such as going out to eat and delaying the purchase of a new home, it appears that most people will not let the price of gas affect their holiday spirit and giving to others," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst of Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. "Based on our monthly study, shoppers are willing to sacrifice in order to still give to others, and it even extends to their next vehicle purchase. We are seeing more and more new-vehicle shoppers looking at smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles than in the past."
When asked how gas prices have affected which vehicles they are considering, more than half of consumers say they would seriously consider a vehicle with higher fuel efficiency if gas prices were to increase as little as 50 cents a gallon. Among those looking to buy a new hybrid vehicle, shoppers say they are most interested in the Toyota Camry hybrid and the Honda Civic hybrid.
"Determining how gas prices affect consumer shipping provides tremendous insight into shifts in the economy, and tracking their opinions of alternative fuel solutions sheds light on the possible adoption and acceptance rates of alternative fuel systems in the future," said Rick Wainschel, Vice President of marketing research and brand communications for Kelley Blue Book. "Timely, in-market vehicle shopper feedback can provide valuable information for automotive manufacturers and marketers, allowing them to tailor their messages and strategies more toward what car shoppers actually think and how they plan to spend their money."
The latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study was conducted on Kelley Blue Book?s kbb.com among in-market new-vehicle shoppers during the first week of December 2007.