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Looks like car buyers aren’t as fickle about fuel efficiency as once thought. Just last month, Edmunds.com reported that consideration of hybrids on its website had dropped by 34 percent since gas prices registered record highs in July. Nobody has questioned the importance of high gas prices to the rise of green cars, but one has to wonder: Just how many car shoppers out there are concerned enough about the environment that it factors into a purchase decision?
According to a study by Kelley Blue Book’s market research division, the answer is “quite a few.” Sixty-one percent of new-vehicle shoppers told EcoWatch—a new green car marketing report published by KBB—that it is important to them to purchase a vehicle from a brand that is environmentally friendly. Of those car shoppers, 58 percent say that they are considering fuel-efficient vehicles in response to environmental concerns.
Even the most eco-conscious consumers like the economic savings that come with saving the world, but it appears that more people are looking beyond pocketbook issues. The environmental ambivalence that accompanied the SUV boom of the early 2000s probably didn’t erode because of “An Inconvenient Truth.” More likely, rising gas prices helped to bring fuel efficiency—and all of the benefits associated with it—into the public consciousness.
There’s also evidence that these changes are here to stay. Fifty-eight percent of those who have changed the type of vehicle they’re planning to purchase say that they would not revert back to their old preferences—even if the price of gas went back down to $1.00 per gallon. And these shoppers are willing to spend, on average, $2,600 more for a fuel-efficient car, according to the KBB study.