CFA study shows that gas prices will continue influencing vehicle acquisitions and next-generation engineering

The per-gallon price of gasoline has a huge impact on the auto industry – sales of small cars, hybrids, and electric vehicles compared to trucks and SUVs; resale values of these segments; and capital expenditures by OEMs. Expectations of where oil prices will go in the next two years will play a big part in new vehicle purchases and what OEMs decide to place in their product pipelines. A new study says that US consumers don’t expect gas prices to fall as far down as they did in recent years – and that prices will be going up soon.

The latest national survey on consumer attitudes by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), reported that US consumers expect the national gasoline price average to rise by almost 50% in the next two years – from about $2.14 to $3.20 – and by over 80% in the next five years – to $3.90. While gas pricConsumer Federation of Americaes dropped dramatically in the second half of 2014, consumers are still building these price increases into their next vehicle purchase.

The fuel price volatility experienced in 2008, and again in 2010, has made a lasting impact on consumer attitudes. More than four-fifths (86%) of survey respondents said that gas mileage will be “important” in their next purchase, while over half (57%) say it will be “very important” in determining what vehicle to purchase.

Fleet acquisitions will likely be met with similar considerations. According to fleet industry coverage (such as articles in sibling publication Fleet Management Weekly), fuel prices and fuel efficiency are up there with telematics, vehicle safety, emissions, and functionality as key factors in making fleet vehicle acquisitions.

Major automakers, including commercial truck manufacturers, are going to continue to invest in alternative fuel vehicles and advanced vehicle technologies. Their executives predict that global demand for fuel from fast-growing economies like China, India, and Brazil, will push gas prices higher in the next two years and beyond.

In the end, financial concerns are driving interest in fuel efficiency. “Buying an inefficient vehicle during periods of low gas prices condemns the consumer to wider swings in monthly costs, much higher monthly peaks and a whopping overall increase in lifetime gas costs,” said Dr. Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research, about the CFA study.

AeroVironment and KnowWhatYouDrive educate EV car shoppers

AVEV101Education and accessible, clear information is needed out there to get past the stumbling block that holds consumers back from owning an electric vehicle. If you take a look at a new educational website for electric vehicle (EV) shoppers, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions:

  • What’s the difference between EVs, plug-in hybrids, and hybrids?
  • Why lithium ion batteries?
  • What do you get out of it? Why make the investment?
  • What’s the latest on charging technologies?
  • How long does it take to charge and how far do you travel?

AeroVironment is working with Saginaw, Mich.-based KnowWhatYouDrive on an educational initiative to help consumers take the plunge and purchase an EV and a home charging port. The free online course at AVEV101.com walks through all of the questions that typically come up for car shoppers – or those with some interest in owning an EV. Details are presented on the types of available charging stations, charging time, and how the installation process works. You can test your electric vehicle IQ and instantly earn $25, $50, or $100 coupon codes for an electric vehicle charging station and installation.

“Education is one of the key factors that will help speed EV adoption,” said Wahid Nawabi, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s Efficient Energy Systems business segment. Doug Taylor, founder of KnowWhatYouDrive, says that it can be a daunting task with all of the EVs on the market now through Ford, Nissan, Fiat, and other OEMs. KnowWhatYouDrive works with charging station supplier Eaton on its website, and offers a discount program for EV charging stations.

AeroVironment has been committed to making the EV ownership and charging experience more accessible to consumers. It launched a dealer program last year offering a turnkey residential charging package. Consumers can purchase the EV and the charger in combination at the time of sale and build it into the financing. The home installation process is built into the transaction so that it can take place in a faster, more seamless way than it typically happens.