There's a lot of talk about $4-a-gallon gasoline being the tipping point where Americans will trade in their gas-guzzling SUVs and bigger cars for more economical vehicles that might use alternative fuels. But some new research shows that isn't the case.
According to a survey done by research firm TechnoMetrica, Americans do not want to switch to smaller cars, or hybrid, electric, or diesel-powered vehicles, despite recent increases in gasoline prices, which are now approaching $4 per gallon for the first time since the summer of 2008.
In the midst of the recession two years ago when the company did a similar survey, drivers said they would change their driving behavior and buy smaller, more efficient vehicles."Today, at $4 per gallon, just over half of drivers agreed that the high price of gas was hurting them financially, but their vehicle purchase intentions were largely unchanged," according to Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica. The survey showed that more than two-thirds rejected the idea of dramatic downsizing or moving to an alternate fuel vehicle of some type.
Mayur believes gasoline would need to rise to $5 a gallon for waves of consumers to make radical changes in the cars they buy. He also believes that when people dramatically downsized two years ago, many have sincerealized they are not happy with much smaller cars.
Surprisingly, the kind of alternate-fuel powered cars that the greatest number of respondents were interested in are those powered by natural gas, which is widely used as a motor fuel in other countries, but is rare in the U.S. The share of respondents "very" or "somewhat" interested in natural gas vehicles was 48%, followed by gas/electric hybrid, 27%; plug-in hybrid, 18%; pure electric, 15%; diesel, 9%; and smaller-size vehicle, 16%.
TechoMetrica has been conducting its Alternate Fuel Tracker Survey for the past four years. For the recent survey, approximately 900 interviews were completed yielding a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.