Gas Prices May Spur Fuel Efficiency

May 26, 2011

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Automotive | Data-driven | Financial Services | Household Income | Uncategorized

gallup-gas-price-impact-may-2011.JPGAmericans are most likely to say (32%) they would seek vehicles that get better gas mileage if gas prices keep rising but don’t go above the $5-per-gallon range, according to results of a May 2011 USA Today/Gallup poll. Americans are second-most likely (19%) to say they would use mass transit.

Less Than Half of Americans Would Never Replace Vehicle

Replacing a vehicle with one that gets better mileage is the only response to high gas prices that less than half of Americans (38%) say they would not do, no matter how high prices rise. On the other end of the spectrum, about seven in 10 (69%) Americans would not move and about the same percentage of workers (72%) would not change jobs or quit working, no matter how high prices rise.

Level of Financial Hardship, Driving Frequency Have Impact

gallup-gas-price-replace-vehicle-may-2011.JPGForty-four percent of those who say recent increases in gas prices are causing them “severe” financial hardship would replace their vehicle at prices up to the $5 range, while 25% of those experiencing no financial hardship would do so.

Similarly, 37% of those who say they drive more than average or drive an average amount would get a more fuel-efficient vehicle, while 28% of those who say they drive less than average would replace their current vehicle at prices up to the $5-per-gallon range. Interestingly, whether gas price increases are temporary or permanent has little effect on response rates.

Low-Income Americans Most Likely Among Income Groups to Look to Mass Transit

gallup-gas-price-mass-transit-may-2011.JPGAmericans making less than $30,000 a year (32%) are about three times more likely than those making $75,000 or more (11%) to say they will use mass transit if gas prices rise to the $5-per-gallon range. Those currently experiencing severe financial hardship because of gas prices (25%) are about twice as likely as those experiencing no hardship (13%) to say the same. Again, the permanency of price increases has minimal impact on response rates.

Electric Cars Unpopular Response to Gas Prices

gallup-gas-price-electric-car-may-2011.JPGAmericans are less likely to say they would buy an electric car than they are to say they would buy a more fuel-efficient one if gas prices rise to the $5-per-gallon range. Just 12% say at that price, they would be willing to buy such a car that they could drive only a limited number of miles at one time. Another 10% would make such a purchase if gas prices are in the $6- to $7.99-per-gallon range and another 9% if gas prices reach $8 to $10 per gallon. Still, 57% say they would not buy such an electric car no matter the price of gas.

High-income Americans are about twice as likely as those with low incomes to say they would purchase an electric car if gas prices rose to the $5 range. Otherwise, no matter whether respondents view higher prices as temporary or permanent, or the degree of financial hardship high gas prices are causing them, electric cars are equally unpopular as a response to high gas prices.

Gas Prices Affect Consumer Behavior

The slight majority of Americans (53%) say they have responded to today’s steep gas prices by making major changes in their personal lives, while 46% say they have not, according to results of an earlier May 2011 USA Today/Gallup poll. Sizable proportions of adults of all major income levels have made such changes, including 68% of low-income Americans, 54% of middle-income Americans, and 44% of upper-income Americans.

About the Data: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 12-15, 2011, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.

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