Gas Price Hikes Are Not Boosting Smaller Car Sales
Washington DC February 4, 2013; The AIADA newsletter reported that according to USA Today, sales of some of the smallest cars barely budged or fell last month despite the steady rise in gas prices. This could be a sign that one of the axioms of the car business may be weakening: Sales of tiny cars rise in tandem with driver angst at the pump.
Mercedes-Benz's Smart car, the two-seater that is the smallest car on sale in the U.S., saw sales fall 3 percent in January to a mere 481 cars. Toyota, whose four-seat Scion iQ is the next smallest, fell 21.1 percent to only 295 cars. For cars that are slightly larger, sales are better. Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit subcompact sales were down, but Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Spark, and Fiat 500 all saw good sales gains, according to Autodata.
As overall auto sales rose 14.1 percent last month, the "lower small" segment was up only 6.1 percent. Yet self-serve regular gas averaged $3.46 a gallon nationwide as this month began, up 17 cents from $3.29 a gallon on Jan. 1, according to AAA's daily price tracker.