Gas prices impact car buying habits


Gasoline prices are just above more than $4 a gallon. Not long ago, that was the stuff of doom and gloom, but now, it's almost a cause for giddiness at this Arco station in Mill Valley.

"I'm optimistic," said one driver.

"I'm looking at $3.50, $3.60 in the next couple of months," said another driver.

Despite the optimism, how about gas prices for the next few years? Our ABC7 Listens poll shows a less optimistic long-term view. 44 percent of respondents expect a significant increase.

"I say up a lot," said a woman.

Thirty-five percent believe prices will remain about the same. And for some respondents, like Don Bennett of Petaluma, price is a secondary concern.

"The impact on me is not the impact on how much driving I do, what happens to the economy. What happens to investments, and what happens to savings," said Bennett.

Bennett doesn't drive much, but the rest of us do.

"Have you added up the additional cost of gas you've spent this summer?" asks ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
"No," said Jan Hiti, an SUV driver.
"Do you want to?" asks Freedman.
"No, I don't really want to," said Hiti.

Hiti a wife and mother of two with a big V8 she has new wheels in mind.

"A little smaller SUV," said Hiti.

Based on our ABC7 Listens poll, she's ahead of the curve. Nine percent have already changed cars to improve their mileage. Twenty-four percent are thinking about it, but almost two-thirds of us say 'no thanks, not in these economic times.'

"It's paid for, for a really long time. So, I'll keep it," said a woman.

However, here is where the poll takes an odd twist. Of those who said they'll hold onto the cars they have, those that are considering a purchase to improve their gas mileage, the majority of them would also consider a hybrid. Fifty-eight percent, in fact.

Thirty-two-percent said, "No." Ten percent said "Not sure."

Jan Hiti used to be one of the unsure, until she penciled price, mileage, and potential savings.

"It's ten-thousand dollars more for a hybrid," said Hiti.
"Are you going to buy it?" asked Freedman.
"No, don't want to pay $10,000 more because it would take twelve years to pay it off," said Hiti.

Instead, she's leaning toward this car, with a smaller V6 engine. Besides, at this dealership, there is a stack of deposits for all the people still waiting for their hybrids.

ABC7 Listens poll results

  • Poll results
  • Summary of key findings
  • Comments on the cost of gas
  • Comments on the economy

    ABC7 Listens Polling Center: click here

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