Small and Fuel-Efficient Cars Make Big Gains as Gas Prices Increase


DETROIT -- As gas prices crept up to a national average of nearly $3.40 per gallon in January, shoppers quickly turned their attention to smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles, according to the New Car Insights Report, which provides analysis of consumer shopping behavior on the site. The report shows that compact cars accounted for nine out of the 20 vehicles on the list of Big Movers in January, and there were two hybrid vehicles on the list as well. Big Movers are vehicles that have experienced a significant increase in shopper interest month-over-month.

"Gas prices have been on the minds of shoppers lately, and our most recent tracking study showed that 54 percent of consumers said their vehicle choice was affected by this issue," said Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at "With projections of even higher gas prices to come during the heavy driving season over the summer, we will likely see a continuation in this surge of interest occurring for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles."

On the list of Big Movers, the Buick Verano made the biggest jump, with a 95.7 percent increase in share of consumer interest month-over-month. The Subaru Impreza came in at No. 2 with a 39.4 percent increase in shopper interest, landing the car at No. 2 on the  list. Toyota, however, claimed the most spots on the list of any automaker, with four fuel-efficient vehicles. The Toyota Prius experienced an increase in consumer interest of 38.1 percent, and interest in the recently released Toyota Prius V increased 23.7 percent. In addition to these hybrids, Toyota also had two compact cars on the list: the Toyota Corolla and Yaris, with increases of 20 percent and 19.5 percent, respectively.

Additionally, there were several compact vehicles from domestic automakers on the list of Big Movers, with the Ford Focus, Chevrolet  Sonic, Chevrolet Cruze and Dodge Caliber all experiencing notable  increases in consumer interest. The Focus experienced an increase of 27.6 percent, the Sonic experienced an increase of 31.8 percent, the Cruze experienced an increase of 19.6 percent and the Caliber experienced an increase of 28.9 percent.

"We are watching the competitive compact segment closely," Wainschel continued. "After a challenging 2011, Toyota appears to be bouncing back and regaining interest from shoppers, which bodes well for the automaker. And while the big three domestic automakers haven't traditionally fared well with small cars, they are certainly holding their own in our recent shopping trends."

At the segment level, renewed interest in compact cars in January buoyed the segment as a whole. Month-over-month, the compact car segment posted the largest increase in share of interest, at 1.1 points. Conversely, the full-size truck segment posted the largest decrease in share of interest at 1.7 points. These trends support the assertion that the increase in gas prices in January had some effect on which cars shoppers are considering.

While compact cars have enjoyed a recent resurgence, analysts pointed out that it is also important to consider the year-over-year trending as well.  As a segment, full-size trucks are up significantly (3.3 share points) from their position in January 2011, an indication that, while the recent increases in gas prices have fueled a month-over-month spike in interest for smaller cars, there is still a sizable portion of the shopping audience that wants — and needs — larger trucks, which are typically associated with many work-related endeavors.

Full Report Available Online
The New Car Insights Report, brought to you by the  Trend Engine, provides analysis of new car shopper behavior on the site. The February edition, available online, includes more in-depth information on the above topics, as well as a look at the top 20 Most-Viewed Vehicles on in January and a look at trends in asking prices. To access the full report, complete with downloadable graphics, click here.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Detroit Tigers Announce Partnership With Uber

With only two days until Tigers Opening Day at Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers today announced a partnership with mobile ridesharing company Uber, naming them the team’s official ride-sharing company. This season, there will be a dedicated pick-up and drop-off zone for fans choosing to Uber to and from Comerica Park, located on the northbound side of the I-75 service drive, between John R and Brush Street.

Detroit Pistons and Henry Ford Health System Partner on Training, Rehab, and Sports Medicine Complex  

The Detroit Pistons and Henry Ford Health System today announced plans to build a new 100,000-square-foot training, rehabilitation, and sports medicine complex in Detroit’s New Center area. The site is bordered by Amsterdam Street, Second and Third Avenues, and a set of railroad tracks to the north. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

Ford Invests $1B in Argo AI, Works Towards Leading Autonomous Vehicle Market

Dearborn-based automaker Ford Motor Co. today announced a $1 billion investment in Pittsburgh-based Argo AI over the next five years, to develop a virtual driver system for the autonomous vehicle Ford has planned for 2021, and for potential licensing opportunities.

Meridian Winter Blast Set to Coincide With North American International Auto Show

The thirteenth annual Meridian Winter Blast, presented by Quicken Loans, has been moved up several weeks and is now scheduled to coincide with the final weekend of the North American International Auto Show — January 20-22.

Detroit Pistons to Move to Downtown in 2017, will Generate Additional $596.2M in Economic Impact

Agreements under which the Pistons will move to downtown Detroit and begin playing next season at the new Little Caesars Arena in The District Detroit, a $1.2 billion sports and entertainment development, have been announced today.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Historic Sherbrooke in Detroit’s Midtown Being Converted into 14 Condominiums
    Detroit’s Midtown district will see the conversion of a historic residential building, The...
  2. United Shore in Pontiac Announces Record Year in 2018, Plans to Fill More Than 800 Jobs
    Following a record-breaking year of mortgage loan production in 2018, United Shore in Pontiac...
  3. Allegiant to Base Aircraft at Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, Create 66 New Jobs
    Allegiant Travel Co. announced on Tuesday that it plans to establish a two-aircraft base of...
  4. Detroit Institute of Arts Pop Art Exhibit Reflects Turbulent ‘60s, ‘70s
    “From Camelot to Kent State: Pop Art, 1960–1975,” a new Detroit Institute of Arts...
  5. Carhartt in Dearborn Launches Line of Clothing Geared to the Uniformed Associate Market
    Carhartt in Dearborn, which has been providing workwear since 1889, today announced the launch of...
  6. Grosse Pointe’s Foster Financial Acquires Lahser Center Office Complex in Southfield
    Foster Financial Company Inc., a real estate investment company in Grosse Pointe, today announced...