Fuel Price Impact Survey:

Do Fuel Prices Really Affect Vehicle Purchase Intentions?

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Drivers today are shelling out nearly $4/gallon, on average, to fill up their vehicles, about 25 cents more than this time last year. But this added expense is not persuading consumers to ditch their SUVs for more fuel efficient small cars. Results from AutoPacific’s latest Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) actually show SUVs being the top vehicle replacement choice, with small cars coming in third. In addition, 76% surveyed would replace their current vehicle with a similarly sized one, whereas only 18% say they would go smaller.

Only Minor Vehicle Segment Shifts: In general, US drivers would not shift to a different vehicle segment when time to replace their current vehicle. Differences from replacement vehicle segment choice and what respondents currently own range between 0-2 percentage points, according to survey results. For example, 28% of respondents own an SUV, and that same percent would choose one for their replacement as well. About 19% would choose a small car, which is two percentage-points higher than current respondent ownership. This is a stark contrast to the July 2008 fuel price spike when the top replacement choice was small cars at 32% of the sample, 12 percentage points higher than current ownership at that time.


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Let's Talk Cars: What Trucks and SUVs won the 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, and will GM's Lastest Incentive Fall Flat?

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Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars”

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, another in our series on AutoPacific‘s 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. This time we tackle the popular category of trucks and SUVs, a category that makes up 50% of all vehicle sales in this country. VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett sits down with AutoPacific president and founder George Peterson, who reveals the winners and tells us why owners in each subcategory are so very satisfied.
Also this week, General Motors latest bid to attract new customers. GM is offering subsidized gas (only a $1.99 a gallon!) to customers in California and Florida who buy certain large trucks and SUVs like the Tahoe and the H2. Cameron Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant Jim Hossack discuss the odds GM might be on to something here. Hossack also gives a download on the latest information from the VehicleVoice Fuel Price Impact Survey.
Show Rundown
01:35 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards – Trucks and SUVs – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific president and founder, George Peterson introduce award winners
13:31 GM’s new Gas Deal for Gas-guzzling Purchases – VehicleVoice host Cameron Barrett engages AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant Jim Hossack


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Tire Safety Week

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Did you know that the week of April 23 was Tire Safety Week? Most folks don’t know that. But tire safety is a very important subject.
Most folks think that tires are just round and black and usually don’t pay much attention to them, but tires are your only contact with the road and your driving safety depends largely on the performance of your tires. You can have the best handlng car in the world, but if you are running on unsafe tires you are courting trouble.
Check the Air Pressure in Your Tires
Auto industry professionals agree with the tire companies. You should check your tires at least once a month. What should you check? First check the air pressure in your tires. This is easy to do. Maybe you’ll get your hands dirty, but the alternative can be grim. If your tires are underinflated, they will tend to run hotter than they should. This could lead to a blow-out. The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle is found on a label on the door jamb. Follow this recommendation, and you should optimize the life of your tires.
Check the Tread Depth
Tires with a lot of mileage on them may be running out of tread depth. When your tread wears down you can more easily lose traction in slippery road conditions. Also, a worn tire will heat up and is prone to failure. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head when you put a penny in the tread, you don’t have enough tread depth. At this point, you should strongly consider replacing your tires.

Tires Can Also Wear Out from Age

Several auto manufacturers have recently recommended that you replace any tire that is over six years of age no matter what its tread depth is. In Japan, some companies recommend a longer period – ten years. In any event, common sense prevails. If the sidewalls of your tires are showing small cracks it’s a good idea to take them to your tire dealer and have them inspected.
Air Pressure in Tires Also Can Impact Fuel Economy
Each month, VehicleVoice surveys members to determine what they have done to improve their fuel economy. With gas prices skyrocketing, we expected to see a high percentage of panel members checking their tire pressure to maximize fuel economy. Wrong. Based on the results from our Fuel Price Impact Survey, not enough of you check air pressure. So, for economy’s sake – and safety’s sake – check your air pressure and tread depth monthly.


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Vehicle Voice February 2006 Survey – Americans Getting Over Fuel Price Shock

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The Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) conducted monthly by AutoPacific’s VehicleVoice indicates that the median fuel price paid by U.S. motorists declined from a September 2005 peak of $2.90 per gallon to about $2.30 in February 2006. The February data are based on the results of an Internet survey with 1,079 VehicleVoice panel members completing the survey between February 20 and February 28, 2006.
Vehicle Segment Shifts Moderating — SUV Loyalty Rebounds
In September respondents reacted to the price shock with about 27% of SUV owners saying they would consider buying another type vehicle when they replaced their SUV. Loyalty to SUVs rebounded by February 2006. Only 15% would consider shifting away from SUVs to another type vehicle. Similarly, interest in Small Cars, up by 41% in September, was up only 17% in February.
Powertrain Preference Shifting — 6-Cylinders Preferred
Fuel price declines have also affected respondent’s engine choices. VehicleVoice panel members are now much less likely to abandon 6 and 8-cylinder gasoline engines than they were six months ago. Interest in economical 4-cylinder engines remains at about 20% for their next vehicle; down by about 25% from the percentage of 4-cylinders they are now driving. Interest in hybrid-powered vehicles remains around 10%; substantially higher than the mix of hybrids presently on the road. The 6-cylinder engine remains the engine of choice for the highest percentage (40%) of panelists. Diesel fuel prices have increased relative to gasoline. Last September, diesel fuel was about 10-cents per gallon less than regular gasoline. In February diesel was about 25-cents per gallon more than regular gasoline nationally. Interest in diesel engines, primarily available in heavy-duty pickup trucks, has declined.

Ethanol Issues

President Bush’s State of the Union address in late January focused on ethanol fuels, and both Ford Motor Company and General Motors have aggressively promoted ethanol over the last few weeks. Two thirds of February’s respondents believe that auto manufacturers should offer more vehicles with ethanol (E85) compatibility, and the same percentage say that more gas stations should offer E85. In February, fully 93% of respondents agreed that America needs to be less dependent on imported oil — but only one-in-three was willing to pay more per gallon or accept increased fuel consumption to achieve that goal.


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Let's Talk Cars: Fuel Crisis? & Future Vehicle Survey

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Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars”

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AutoPacific VP and Industry Analyst Jim Hossack weighs in on the current state of fuel prices, what Americans are thinking, and what the near future holds with regard to fuel and alternatives. Hossack’s comments summarize the results of the latest VehicleVoice Fuel Price Impact Survey conducted by the VehicleVoice automotive internet research panel. Next, AutoPacific Founder and CEO George Peterson explains the 2006 Future Vehicle Survey – an important program that helps automobile manufacturers learn about the needs of consumers. Learn how you can participate in the Future Vehicle Survey. Audio Podcast.
Show Rundown
00:50 Fuel Crisis: The latest on fuel, pricing, and the needs of Americans at the pump
10:18 2006 Future Vehicle Survey: George Peterson, VehicleVoice


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Let's Talk Cars: The Cost of Fuel & Chrysler – One-Trick Pony?

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Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars”

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In this edition, we talk with VehicleVoice contributor Jim Hossack about the current state of fuel pricing, the impact it is having on American drivers, and the results of a recent VehicleVoice survey on fuel. We will also talk with noted automobile expert Jim Hall on the state of affairs at Chrysler. Is Chrysler on the way back with innovative new cars, following on the success of the Chrysler 300 and the new Dodge Charger – or, is Chrysler a one-trick Pony?


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