VehicleVoice panelists conribute to breaking news by providing their input on current automotive issues.
The latest attribution was from our January 2006 Fuel Price Impact Study where we queried panelists on ethanol-based fuel like E85 – a 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline mix.
USA_Today used the VehicleVoice data that had been distributed in an AutoPacific press release in late january in their February 9, 2006 issue.
“E85’s drawback is reduced fuel economy. Ethanol backers acknowledge that E85 must be sufficiently cheaper than gasoline to make up for poorer mileage. Even so, Americans dislike frequent fuel stops. A recent survey by AutoPacific consultants showed only 40% of drivers willing to accept fewer miles per gallon with E85.”
The January 2006 report issued by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) concludes that larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones. DUH! It took a six page pdf report written by a government contractor from URC Enterprises to summarize crash statistics from 1997 through 2004 to reconfirm the basic equation in physics – F=MA (force equals mass times acceleration).
In a time when more people may be considering smaller cars to offset the skyrocketing cost of fuel, new small B-Segment entries like the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Honda_Fit are being introduced. These cars meet the need for small, fuel efficient transportation and certainly carry impressive safety credentials like crush zones and air bags galore. Even our own VehicleVoice survey research shows that that there is increased consideration for small cars these days. So, what’s the right thing to do?
Well, as the government report confirms, F still equal MA.
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 (http://www.autopacific.com) VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) confirms 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. The Fuel Price Impact Survey is based on the results of a VehicleVoice Internet survey with 1,122 respondents who completed the survey between December 13 and December 19, 2005.
Actual fuel price continue downward since September peak
In the last month the median price respondents say they paid for fuel has declined by about 11¢ per gallon (to $2.22) following a dramatic 50¢ per gallon decrease in November. The median price they expect to pay one year from now has decreased by another 8¢ per gallon to $2.45.
Shift away from SUVs now moderating
Many drivers reconsider the types of vehicles they are driving when fuel prices spike higher. Drivers of sport utility vehicles represent about 25% of the total car market today. In September, when fuel prices peaked, about 27% 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 Mid-Size Cars and Small Cars both up 25%. While the data do not show a direct relationship of drivers moving from SUVs to more fuel efficient cars, there is a clear tendency for drivers to consider moving from less fuel-efficient segments to vehicle types that get better gas mileage.
Drivers considering shift to hybrids, but 6-cylinders remain “sweet spot”
About 18% of drivers having vehicles powered by V8 engines say they will shift to more fuel-efficient engines, down from 25% in September. But 27% of drivers of vehicles with gas-sipping 4-cylinder engines also say they will consider changing. The transition for both is towards 6-cylinder engines and hybrids. Hybrid-powered vehicles will be considered by 12% of the respondents, down slightly from the 15% peak in the October survey. This is a reaction to the continuing positive media attention surrounding hybrid-powered vehicles and the public’s perception that hybrids are an answer to higher fuel prices. There is also somewhat more interest in diesel engines, though significantly less than the level of interest in a gas-electric hybrid.
High fuel price still seen as BAD for America!
The culprits identified by the respondents as contributing to high fuel prices remain Big Oil Companies, OPEC, Natural Disasters and Limited Refining Capacity. When asked whether high fuel prices are good or bad for America, 73% say that high fuel prices are “bad for America”, down from 80% in the September survey. In the land where roads have been paved by unlimited cheap gas, attitudes are that conservation stimulated by higher gasoline prices is not the popular way to go. Higher fuel prices might actually encourage conservation, reduce pollution and provide the Middle East with less money to use against American interests, but respondents don’t see it that way, and vote their pocketbook.
This editorial appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, November 30, 2005. Written tongue-in-cheek, Jenkins pokes fun at the hype hybrids have achieved to date. Indeed, his commentary reflects some of the perceptions gathered in our September, 2005 VehicleVoice (http://vehiclevoice.com) Hybrid Study.
Dear Valued Hybrid Customer…
Business World/by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
We at the Toyota Motor Corporation are writing to address certain misconceptions that have arisen about your Toyota Prius model, which we are proud to note is driven by many celebriies, including Prince Charles and HBO’s Larry David.
Our pioneering gasoline-electric hybrid, introduced in 1999, has become an object of adoration to the world’s enlightened car buyers. Our competitors, including American’s Big Three, are rushing out hybrid vehicles of their own. Unconfirmed media reports say that we at Toyota intend to double our hybrid output to 500,000 vehicles next year. Along with other members of the auto industry, we will be lobbying for tax breaks and HOV privileges for hybrid vehicles.
Generation Y is the cohort of the population between 18 and 28 years of age. There is still half of the GenY generation cohort that has not yet reached driving age, but are strating to lust after their first car or truck. Because youth is sexy and desirable, automakers and their advertising companies concentrate great effort at attracting younger buyers to their brands. It is critically important Are Generation Y new vehicle buyers really different from the older generations? AutoPacific’s annual Generation Y Consultancy shows that Generation Y – the youngest vehicle buyers in the market – are very different when vehicle selection reasons are considered. The following chart shows how some key vehicle selection reasons stack up when Generation Y is compared to older generations:
The above data ring true for every vehicle segment. Basically, GenY buyers want a high value, high image vehicle that will last a long time.
Consumer Reactions More Moderate as Fuel Prices Decline Towards $2 per Gallon
As the price of gasoline in the United States continued to decline from September and October peaks, the November 2005 VehicleVoice Fuel Price Impact Survey conducted by AutoPacific confirms that many consumers would consider switching the type of vehicle they drive, though not quite to the extent they indicated two or even one month ago. The Fuel Price Impact Survey is based on the results of a VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) Internet survey with 1,153 respondents who completed the survey between November 15 and November 21, 2005.
Actual fuel price down; future price expected to pay for fuel about $2.50!
In the last month the median price respondents say they paid for fuel has declined by an impressive fifty cents per gallon, and the median price they expect to pay one year from now has decreased by forty cents per gallon to $2.53
Reduced shift away from SUVs… Small Cars still Benefit
What a difference a few months make. In a clear example that buyers react to immediate pressures, the headlines that drivers will abandon their SUVs is premature. In September 27% of the respondents who were SUV owners said they would consider switching to another type of vehicle next time they buy, this declined to 22% in October and further to 15% in November. The vehicle segment most likely to benefit from this migration is Small Cars (up 28% in November, compared with a 33% increase in October and 41% in September). While the data do not show a direct relationship of drivers moving from SUVs to Small Cars, there is a clear tendency to move from less fuel-efficient segments to vehicle types that get better gas mileage.
I met Frank Giovinazzi at a recent press event. Frank has created an excellent site that combines all the latest in automotive online reporting – articles, links, commentary, podcast and video-casts. Frank’s site, while fun and irreverent, often takes a different spin on automotive “truisms”.
Frank interviewed George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, for a podcast concerning the VehicleVoice internet survey of the impact of present fuel prices on American drivers.
Check out his site at http://www.carbuyersnotebook.com/archives/2005/11/car_buyers_note_98.htm
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Voice Research – Consumer Reaction to Continuing High Fuel Prices
How are you reacting to the price of fuel? VehicleVoice surveyed panelists to find out.
As the price of gasoline in the United States remains high, the October 2005 Fuel Price Impact Survey conducted by VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) for AutoPacific, Inc confirms that many consumers intend to shift the type of vehicle they drive, though not quite to the extent they indicated only one month ago. The Fuel Price Impact Survey is based on the results of a VehicleVoice Internet survey with 1,145 respondents who completed the survey between October 17 and October 22, 2005.
Actual fuel price down; anticipated fuel price up!
In the last month the median price respondents say they paid for fuel has declined seven cents per gallon, but the median price they expect to pay one year from now has increased by five cents per gallon.
Major, but reduced shift away from SUVs and towards Small Cars.
While over half (63%) of the respondents indicate that they will not change the type of vehicle they drive, there clearly is impact on the Sport Utility Vehicle category. About 22% of SUV owners say they will shift to another type of vehicle next time they buy, down from 27% a month ago. The vehicle class most likely to benefit from this migration is Small Cars (up 33% this month, compared with a 41% increase last month). While the data do not show a direct relationship of drivers moving from SUVs to Small Cars, there is a tendency to move from less fuel-efficient classes to vehicle types that get better gas mileage.
Hybrid preference still huge, seen as silver bullet!
About 25% of drivers who have vehicles powered by V8 engines say they will shift to more fuel-efficient engines, the same as reported last month. Vehicles with hybrid powerplants will be considered by 15% of the respondents, virtually unchanged from the prior survey. This is a reaction to the continuing positive media attention surrounding hybrid-powered vehicles and the public’s perception that hybrids are an answer to the higher price of fuel. There is also somewhat more interest in diesel engines, though significantly less than the level of interest in a gas-electric hybrid.
High fuel price seen as BAD for America!
The culprits identified by the respondents as contributing to high fuel prices are Big Oil Companies, OPEC, Natural Disasters and Limited Refining Capacity. When asked whether high fuel prices are good or bad for America, 80% say that high fuel prices are “bad for America”, unchanged from the prior survey. In the land where roads have been paved by cheap gas, attitudes are that conservation stimulated by higher gasoline prices is not the popular way to go. Higher fuel prices might actually encourage conservation, and thus be good for the planet, but respondents don’t see it that way.
Every month VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) panel members give their reactions to the styling of eight to ten newly introduced cars or trucks and interesting concept vehicles. The Internet panel is shown photos of the vehicles without identification. Their badges are Photoshopped out so only the cogniscenti might really know what the vehlcle really is. At the end of the Beauty Contest the vehicle names and manufacturers are revealed.
Over the months, we have become pretty good at predicting what will juice up the panel members. Usually a really hot sports car will do the trick. The Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were tops for “great styling” ratings in the months they were shown. Some interesting recent results show the Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr being strongly rated for having “great styling”. This is an impressive result for mainstream sedans.