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Consumer Preferences Changing

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Since reaching a peak in September, the price of gasoline in the United
States continued to decline through mid-December and drivers are
reacting to these moderating fuel prices. The December 2005 “Fuel Price
Impact Survey” conducted by AutoPacific’s VehicleVoice confirmed that
many consumers are paying less for gasoline but are still very aware of
the long-term effects of gasoline priced above $2 per gallon.

Many drivers reconsider the types of vehicles they are driving
when fuel prices spike higher. Drivers of SUVs represent about 25
percent of the total car market today. In September, when fuel prices
peaked, about 27 percent of SUV drivers indicated they would consider
shifting the type of vehicle they drive to something more fuel
efficient. The vehicle segments most likely to benefit from this
migration are midsize cars and small cars, both up 25 percent. There is a
clear tendency for drivers to consider moving from less fuel-efficient
segments to vehicle types that get better gas mileage.

Approximately 18 percent of drivers having vehicles powered by V8
engines say they will shift to more fuel-efficient engines, down from 25
percent in September. But 27 percent of drivers of vehicles with
gas-sipping 4-cylinder engines also say they will consider changing. The
transition for both is toward 6-cylinder engines and hybrids.
Hybrid-powered vehicles will be considered by 12 percent of the
respondents, down slightly from the 15 percent peak in the October
survey. There is also somewhat more interest in diesel engines, though
significantly less than the level of interest in a gas-electric hybrid.

Source: SEMA Research and Information Center

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