GfK: High Prices at the Gas Pump Boost Interest in Compact Cars

Compact cars appear to be in higher demand, nearly double, than vehicles powered by alternative energy, or AEVs, including electric and hybrid cars.

The prolonged period of high gas prices has prompted consumers to reconsider their choice of cars, and they are increasingly looking to purchase vehicles with improved levels of fuel efficiency that are also cost-effective.

The Automotive research division at GfK found that, despite an increased demand of compact cars, subcategories such as AEVs and sub-compacts do not benefit from the same kind of interest.

The research points out that while 18.1 percent of the demand of light vehicles over six months was for compact vehicles, the sub-compacts accounted for only 3.6 percent. Hybrids and electric cars fared slightly better than sub-compacts, representing 9.4 percent of the demand for light vehicles.

Despite expectations of increased sales of hybrid and electric vehicles in times of high gas prices, consumers appear to steer clear of AEVs. GfK identified three main detractors – lack of convenience, high purchase prices and low familiarity with these vehicles.

GfK Automotive senior VP for consulting, Doug Scott, said that customers see the value of downgrading to a compact car in times when gas prices are high, but they are not willing to sacrifice the convenience and comfort of a compact in favor of sub-compacts. He added that AEV sales will not increase if automakers do not address the challenges that the purchase of AEVs poses to the average customer – cost, familiarity and convenience.