Rising Gas Prices Inspire Efficient Car Purchasing … But Not Electric

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An automotive report says rising gas prices are prompting more people to buy fuel efficient cars – but not the ones you might expect.

When fuel prices spike, you might think electric-powered vehicles would be more appealing to customers than gas powered ones. A report by Experian Automotive says no, and some car dealers back that up. Jason Syens works at Madison’s east side Zimbrick. He says they haven’t met projected sales for the all-electric Nissan Leaf. Why? “Most of us just drive farther than that car is going to allow on a daily basis.”

The Experian report says what really moves off the lot when gas gets expensive are high mileage gas-powered vehicles. Even hybrids don’t do as well. Allen Foster is with Smart Toyota in Madison. He says one reason may be their size, or lack of it. “Consumers still really don’t have a lot of offerings in the hybrids. There’s not yet a hybrid van or any large SUVs that are hybrids. People have a need for that type of vehicle.”

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So far high gas prices are not cutting into sales of vehicles in general. Zimbrick’s Syens says the recent price bump for regular fuel hasn’t hurt them.

“Does gas impact us right away? No. Not in terms of retail sales. We had a great weekend. Our best weekend of the month, by far.”

President’s Day is traditionally a big sales day for car dealers: It’s when manufacturers begin to offer customers the most incentives.

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