New Car Buyers Focus on Fuel Efficiency

74 percent of buyers say gas consumption is more important now
56 percent say they excluded vehicles on fuel efficiency
54 percent say gas consumption very important in choice

New car buyers are paying closer attention to the gas consumption of the vehicles they are considering, according to a new and exclusive survey by

Seventy-four percent of respondents to the online poll, conducted among over 2,500 users of the web site’s online price quote service, said that fuel efficiency was more important to them than when they bought their last vehicle.

Fifty-six percent of those polled said that during their search they had excluded vehicles from consideration because of poor gas consumption. All those who participated stated that they were within 30 days of buying a new car.

Recent sales figures suggest that rising gas prices have increased the proportion of fuel efficient vehicles being sold.

More than half, 54 percent, stated that fuel efficiency was “very” important to them when they reviewed their options.

The fuel efficiency of all vehicles is measured by the Environmental Protection Agency. These figures are seen on the window stickers of all new cars and are used by manufacturers in their advertising. The EPA measurements are intended solely as a basis for comparison of different vehicles and for this purpose, and this purpose alone, they provide a useful guide.

Many consumers, however, find they get substantially lower performance than the numbers indicate when they take their new car onto the streets. Individual driver habits and traffic conditions can produce wide variations in gas consumption on identical vehicles.

The CAFE or Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirement of new cars for 2011 was increased to 30.2mpg for passenger cars. Back in 2009, the requirement was just 27.5mpg. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that “These are important steps in America’s quest to achieve emergency independence, and give more fuel efficient vehicles to American families.”

It is important to remember that CAFE is based on the current manufacturer’s annual vehicle production, for all vehicles sold in the USA, with a gross vehicle weight of 3,856kg (8,500 pounds) or less. If the corporate average fuel economy of a car maker’s annual vehicle production falls below the minimum standard, they are obliged to pay a penalty of $5.50 for every 0.1mpg that they exceed.

CAFE standards for 2011 are expressed depending on the vehicle footprint. The vehicle footprint is obtained by multiplying the wheelbase of the car with the track width. As an example, the 2012 Honda Fit must achieve a CAFE regulated fuel economy rating of 36mpg, or roughly 6.5 l/100km. This is equivalent to a fuel economy of 27mpg in real world driving.

Despite the increasing sales of more fuel efficient cars, Americans have still have a long way to go before they end their love affair with horsepower. Forty-six percent of our sample said that performance was more important to them than fuel economy when they chose their vehicle, but new 2012 cars are engineered to provide impressive performance while still remaining fuel efficient.

Even for those who prefer power over gas mileage there are simple ways to improve their gas consumption. Smoother driving is one of the biggest factors in fuel efficiency. Driving at high speed, sharp accelerating and sudden braking can lower fuel consumption by over 33 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Most engines dramatically lose fuel economy over 60 miles an hour and when idling.

Other tips from the DOE include removing excess weight from the trunk, checking tire pressures, and changing air filters on a regular basis. Use of features such as overdrive gears and cruise control can also have an impact.

Ultimately, the type of car you drive will be the key determining factor in the gas mileage you can achieve. For those looking for maximum efficiency the two vehicles with the highest rating are the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic hybrids, which achieve a fuel efficiency rating of more than 40mpg. Conventional gasoline-powered automobiles such as the new Chevrolet Sonic and 2012 Ford Fiesta can reach 33mpg in the combined cycle.

This compares to the European market, where gas prices have been higher for decades, which has over 100 vehicles with a rating of 40 mpg or higher, according to a study by the Civil Society Institute. Some of these vehicles would not meet U.S. emissions standards because they are diesel, but many are made by U.S. corporations and the CSI maintains there is demand from U.S. consumers to make these vehicles available to them. Now, you can find fuel efficient diesel cars sold in the USA that can achieve more than 40 miles to the gallon.

With gas prices projected to keep rising and the impact being felt on car sales, it seems that the market may force manufacturers to concentrate more on fuel efficiency as consumers vote with their checkbooks.

Published on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - Copyright 2014, INC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.


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