Gas Prices Affecting Car Shoppers’ Plans

The recent increase in gas prices is causing some car shoppers to reconsider a vehicle purchase, according to a recent survey from Kelley Blue Book.

The survey found that 70 percent of current car shoppers admit that gas prices have influenced the type of vehicle they’re considering. Forty-three percent said they are delaying the purchase of a vehicle due to economic concerns and gas prices, and 51 percent said they’re reducing or completely stopping things like vacations, going out to eat, shopping and entertainment, among other things.

KBB’s survey also found that the optimal price of gas that consumers prefer is $3 a gallon. When gas increases to $3.50 a gallon, more than half of the survey respondents said the price would affect which vehicle they’re considering, while 80 percent said the same at $4 a gallon. At $5 a gallon, 95 percent said they’d reconsider the type of vehicle they’re shopping for.

KBB’s fuel-focused study also found a clear relationship between gas prices and alternative-fuel vehicle consideration. As gas prices increase, consideration of alternative-fuel vehicles also increases.

Sixty-one percent of car shoppers from the survey also said that they have changed their driving habits because of high gas prices. The survey found that 48 percent of current car shoppers said they would be willing to choose a smaller engine size, while 36 percent said they would consider buying a smaller vehicle. KBB says that 31 percent of car shoppers would change the vehicle category, for example, buying a sedan instead of an SUV.

Kelley Blue Book’s Market Intelligence survey about gas prices was fielded to 1,127 current new and used vehicle shoppers on from January 8-11, 2011.