High gas prices aren't leading to a shift in consumer behavior

April 6, 2012 12:00 AM

Despite high gas prices, many consumers are not panicking and immediately buying eco-friendly vehicles, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst at IHS Global Insight, has looked at historical data for numerous years when gas prices hit record highs - namely, 1972, 1979 and 2008. In all three instances, buyers initially panicked and switched to smaller vehicles for the first three to four months, then went right back to buying bigger trucks and SUVs. In short, they got used to the prices after awhile.

In many ways, the same trend is playing out this year. Gas prices already jumped past $4 per gallon last year, so it's not exactly a surprise if the same thing happens. Mark Rehkopf, vice president of Russell & Smith Ford, Honda and Mazda dealerships in Houston, told the news source that many of his customers are actually just buying a new version of the old model that they're trading in, rather than downsizing.

"This time rising gas prices are not a shock - it's more of an annoyance," Lindland told the news source.

Drivers who can't make a new car purchase right now can improve the fuel economy of their older vehicles with regular auto maintenance. Inflating worn tires or getting a tune-up have both been shown to help with fuel efficiency, according to the Department of Energy.

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