Are Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Back in Vogue?

Survey: Surging gas prices may be renewing interest.

Gas prices are creeping higher again, and car buyers are taking notice.

That's the conclusion of a survey conducted by Atlanta-based AutoTrader.com, in which 62% respondents indicated they would consider a more fuel-efficient car next time they purchase a vehicle.

The results of the consumer information website's latest survey, which was conducted in March and April, suggest that interest in fuel-efficient vehicles is running parallel to the rise in gas prices. A similar survey conducted in January and February found that 53% percent of car shoppers were considering more fuel-efficient vehicles, according to the website.

A separate monthly report on the website showed several fuel-efficient vehicles gaining in popularity, including the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra.

On AutoTrader.com's top-searched used-car list, the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Nissan Altima also saw increased popularity.

Industry reports note that the average retail price for all grades of gasoline in the United States rose past $3.80 per gallon this month, with some markets seeing prices above $4 per gallon.

Fuel Prices Affecting Spending Habits

In its most recent survey, 49% of respondents indicated they would be cutting back on dining out, and 46% said they would be cutting back on summer-vacation plans as a result of higher fuel prices. These two questions were not posed in the January-February survey.

Still, the traditional U.S. solo commute to work doesn't seem to be at risk yet, with only 9% of respondents indicating that they would consider looking for carpool opportunities and only 3% indicating they would take public transportation more often, according to AutoTrader.com.

A majority of survey respondents -- 67% -- said they would combine trips to complete as many errands as possible in an effort to use less gasoline.

Share your views on this and other hot topics in transportation manufacturing in IndustryWeek's newest forum, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

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