June 14, 2009

Poll: Motorists expect higher gas prices

The overwhelming number of U.S. motorists expect gas prices to rise sharply during the next month, a poll indicates.

The Kelley Blue Book's Market Intelligence Study also found that two-thirds of respondents said the possibility of gas price increases has influenced their thoughts on what car to buy, The Detroit News reported Sunday.

The poll found 87 percent of motorists expect sharp rises in gas prices, up from 66 percent in April.

Last summer when gas prices surged, cars accounted for 57 percent of vehicles sold, but the ratio returned to a roughly 50-50 car-truck mix when fuel costs subsided, said Rebecca Lindland of IHS Global Insight. We did not see any long-term change.

The newspaper noted gas prices now average $2.64 a gallon, up from $2.53 a week ago, though down from $4.06 a year ago.

Kelley Blue Book polled 753 prospective customers in the second half of May. A majority were reviewing their car-buying decisions because of rising gas prices. The poll's margin of error was not reported.

While we may not see the $5-per-gallon gas experienced in some areas last year, current economic conditions compounded by the pain at the pump may make $3-per-gallon gas a new threshold for car buyers -- the point at which they change their mind about what vehicle to buy and how they spend their money, said Jack Nerad, Kelley Blue Book's executive market analyst.