A new survey says nine out of 10 new car shoppers in the United States expect gas prices to rise sharply over the next month and the rising gas price may accelerate sales of smaller vehicles in the U.S. market, the Detroit News reported Sunday.
The new survey conducted by the U.S. Kelley Blue Book's Market Intelligence found that consumers' expectations of higher gas prices are creeping higher. The findings suggest that the U.S. auto market's recent shift toward cars and away from trucks will accelerate this summer.
According to Autodata Corp., in May, cars accounted for 52.7 percent of new light vehicle sales in the U.S. market, up from 51.9 percent in March.
The shift to smaller vehicles is likely to be further encouraged by a government "cash-for-clunkers" program offering customers cash vouchers of up to 4,500 dollars to trade in old vehicles. Customers buying substantially more fuel-efficient models would benefit the most under the bill being hammered out in the U.S. Congress.
But analysts say it's unclear whether these shifts in customer behavior are permanent in the U.S. market.
Last summer, the share of car sales in the U.S. market increased to as much as 57 percent of the total when gas prices surged, but the market went right back to a roughly 50-50 car-truck mix when fuel costs subsided, reports said.