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Car buyers willing to pay more to save gas, says study

2:27 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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More Americans are willing to pay more for a vehicle that will save on fuel over time and are adjusting how they drive to make each drop of fuel go further, according to a new survey by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland.

Drivers are slowing down, coasting more to stops, and even drafting behind larger vehicles to save gasoline, the study released Wednesday shows.

Of survey respondents, 25% said they would buy a vehicle with hybrid technology if they had $1,000 more to spend. The same percentage of respondents would choose an energy-efficient appliance or solar panels. Most gasoline-electric vehicles that don't require recharging cost between $2,000 and $5,000 more than gas-engine versions of the same model.

Ford commissioned the study.

U.S. sales of gas-electric hybrids that don't need recharging increased 65% over a year ago for the first eight months of this year. That compares with a 15% increase in sales of all light vehicles in the same period.

Sales of plug-in hybrids have more than tripled to 25,290 for the first eight months of this year, but the shortage of convenient recharging stations and the cars' significantly higher sticker prices have discouraged many consumers from buying them.

But if they can't afford the newest fuel-efficient technology, the survey found that some drivers have changed their driving habits to either drive less (64%); slow down (41%) or draft behind larger vehicles to save fuel (10%). And 32% have done research to find cheaper fuel, and 21% have purchased a new vehicle with improved fuel economy.

USA TODAY

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