As gas prices retreated from mid-March highs, Cox Automotive saw a slight decrease in shopping for fuel-efficient vehicles and now shopping has plateaued, the company reported April 13.
President Biden’s decision to release oil from the strategic reserves coupled with this week’s waiver allowing the use of ethanol this summer continues to lower prices at the pump. Higher gas prices tend to drive consumers to consider fuel-efficient vehicles, including electric and hybrid vehicles. Vehicle shopping traffic in the early April on Cox Automotive’s Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book websites showed:
- Shopper interest in EVs increased to 66% since January, when gas prices started to rise.
- Non-luxury EV SUVs continue to hold the highest share of shopping on the sites among EVs, showing a 96% increase versus the beginning of the year. It suggests that non-luxury buyers are most affected by the higher gas prices and potentially more motivated to switch to electric.
- Shopping traffic for hybrid new cars increased 20%, back to the same levels as in the fall of 2021.
- Fuel-efficient subcompact/compact car segments maintained double-digit gains of 15% compared to January.
Persistent supply chain issues continue to narrow new vehicle inventory on dealer lots. The global computer chip shortage is still a challenge, and consumers predict the shortage will last for six months or longer. In a recent Cox study, 45% of consumers are likely to postpone their purchase with half of those surveyed saying they’ll delay their purchase by seven months or more.
“Shopper interest for EVs, hybrids and more fuel-efficient gas vehicles remains high,” said a Cox Automotive executive analyst in a news release. “The problem is those are the very vehicles hardest hit by supply chain disruptions and are in the lowest supply.”
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