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Edmunds.com: Consumer Focus on Small Cars Wavers

August 14, 2008

In June and July the national average price for gasoline topped $4 per gallon for seven weeks, fueling a sudden shift in consumer interest towards smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. But according to Web site traffic on Edmunds.com, consumers’ single-minded focus on small vehicles is subsiding as gasoline prices drop.

“There’s been a rush to small cars, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the shift is permanent,” said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com. “Automakers made some big changes in their production plans based on what happened during the second quarter. Clearly gasoline prices will continue to climb in the long term, but our data calls into question whether consumers’ current preferences will continue in the long-term.”

Edmunds.com “consideration data” tracks consumer interest by measuring its Web site traffic to each vehicle segment. The data shows the trend towards small vehicles is leveling off, and interest in previously declining segments—such as compact crossover SUVs—is on the rise.

Even interest in the popular hybrid segment is down 34 percent compared to June as gas prices have declined.

“High gas prices caused consumers to temporarily forget their other vehicle requirements and consider only fuel efficiency,” said Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. “With the initial shock fading and gas prices now declining, consumers are again viewing gas consumption as one of many factors when considering their next vehicle.”

For more information, please visit the Edmunds’ AutoObserver.com story “Rush to Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Recedes, Edmunds.com Research Suggests” located at http://www.autoobserver.com

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