WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California — Gas prices may be tumbling, but fuel economy remains the most influential factor among a majority of car shoppers, according to a new study.
The J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Avoider Study found that 14 percent of new-vehicle owners cite gas mileage as the most influential reason for selecting the vehicle they ultimately purchased.
"Consumers know that, although gas prices are low today, the cost of fuel will likely increase during the time they own their vehicle," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. "Clearly, consumers are considering the total cost of ownership when selecting their new vehicle."
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said it expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices, which averaged $3.36 a gallon in 2014, to average $2.33 a gallon in 2015.
"The average household is now expected to spend about $750 less for gasoline in 2015 compared with last year because of lower prices," it said in its latest short-term outlook report. "The projected regular gasoline retail prices increase to an average of $2.72 a gallon in 2016."
The J.D. Power study also found that exterior look/design is the top reason shoppers avoid a particular vehicle, followed by cost and interior look.
Vehicle technology is becoming a huge factor for car shoppers.
"New-vehicle buyers indicate they avoided a model because it lacked the latest technological features at a rate of 15 percent in 2015, up from 4 percent in 2014," the study said.
The study is based on responses from nearly 30,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in April and May 2014.
Edmunds says: Smart car shoppers will select a vehicle that will serve them well whether gas prices are high or low.