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BIGresearch March Study: Rising Gas Prices Could Sway Short-Term Car Sales

Still, Nearly a Third Say They're Considering the Purchase of an SUV

COLUMBUS, OH March 25, 2004; The purchase decisions of consumers who plan to buy or lease a car in the next six months are likely to be influenced by gas prices, according to a new study from consumer intelligence firm BIGresearch. More than 28 percent of those consumers, however, are still considering the purchase of an SUV.

The finding comes from the Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted monthly. The study polled more than 8,038 consumers between March 3 and 10, posing the question "Suppose you know gas prices would average $2.00 per gallon. What would you do? (Check all that apply)."

Of consumers currently shopping for cars, 40 percent answered the question saying they'd shop for a more fuel-efficient model. Just over half agreed that they'd take fewer driving vacations, and 16.6 percent said they'd use more public transportation.

"These findings are counter-intuitive," said Gary Drenik, president of BIGresearch. "While many consumers who are shopping right now for cars may buy an economy car instead of one at a higher price point, the fact that nearly a third are considering an SUV says there are consumers willing to make compromises in other areas of their budgets to make that happen."

As of Wednesday, the national average price per gallon was $1.74.

Thirty percent of consumers who plan to purchase or lease a car in the next six months said they're looking at cars under $10,000. 15 percent said $10,001 to $15,000. Seventeen percent said $15,001 to $20,000 and 18 percent said $20,001 to $25,000.

"Americans love their cars," said Drenik. "If a car dealer wants to sell a car, it looks like free gasoline is better than a rebate."

About BIGresearch

BIGresearch is a market intelligence firm providing analysis of consumer behavior in the areas of retail, politics and media. The syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey (CIA) monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to identify opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

BIGresearch's methodology provides the most accurate consumer information in the industry with a margin of error of +/- 1 percent. Complimentary findings are available at www.bigresearch.com.