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American Drivers Know the Low-Gas Price Party Won't Last

Consumers want automakers to continue putting a premium on fuel economy.
/ Source: The Detroit Bureau

Consumers may relish the sharp slump in fuel prices over the last few months, but they anticipate prices will eventually rebound and want automakers to continue putting a premium on fuel economy, according to a new survey.

In the early weeks of the New Year, motorists in more than 40 states were paying less than $2.00 a gallon, according to industry reports. But the new study by the Consumer Federation of America predicts prices will surge back to around $3.20 a gallon within two years. Looking five years out, meanwhile, they expect to be paying around $3.90 a gallon at the pump.

“There’s a good reason why today’s car buyers still believe fuel efficiency is important—they understand that gas prices always go back up,” said Jack Gillis, the CFA’s Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book.

The study found that 86 percent of American motorists consider gas mileage will be “important” in their next car purchase, while 57 percent say fuel economy will be “very important.”

That might come as a bit of a surprise considering recent shopping trends. Sales of pickups, utility vehicles and other light trucks have soared in recent months. And consulting firm IHS Automotive now expects that small crossover and sport-utility vehicles will outsell passenger sedans this year for the first time.

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-- Paul A. Eisenstein