Gas pump

JD Power: Despite Cheap Gas, Fuel Efficiency Still a Primary Concern

As you read the headlines proclaiming historically low gas prices spelling doom for hybrid, electric, or any other automotive technology that leverages economy, think about this from J.D. Power:

Despite gas prices falling to their lowest levels since 2010, fuel economy—for a fourth consecutive year—remains the most influential factor among the majority of new-vehicle buyers in determining which vehicle they select, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Avoider StudySM released today.


Now I know the press needs something to write about, oil industry lobbyists need something to do during the business day, and the pundits have to drone on without accountability.  But all of them seem to operate from this point-of-view:

People love gasoline engines and to pay for gas.  Mileage is a consideration, but not a driver when making decisions.


To which I say, “pull your heads out and spend some time talking to people, regular people.  I mean real regular people, not just interns and that person you know that make less than $80k/year.”  I encourage them to stop reading polls about how people feel about gas and the gasoline engine, and spend some time talking to people, again real people, from across the spectrum.

It’s not news that the media only cares about current green car sales–namely when they’re bad. When it comes to green cars, they also forget how many people have previously purchased them, and how big that mass has grown over the past few years.  They do this because it’s sexier to write about a lack of explosive growth.  Slow and steady doesn’t sell papers.  But it does build businesses.

Check out a snippet from a chart created by the Diesel Forum.  It’s a look at green car registrations 2010-13. Naturally their focus is more on diesel, but the numbers are good:

US Green Car Registrations 2010-13

Courtesy of Diesel Forum


So if I read this correctly, overall registrations of hybrid passenger cars has increased by 1.1 million from 2010 to 2013.  That’s slightly less than the population of Dallas, Texas and slightly more than the population of San Jose, California.  If San Jose is a little murky, try this one.  Austin, Texas estimated its population at 885,000 for 2013.  Click here the complete chart, courtesy of Diesel Forum.

If you add in the diesel car numbers, you get 1.9 million green cars, slightly less than the population of Houston, Texas.  Keep in mind EV’s aren’t in that number.

The other thing that the media famously forgets is history.  As well as supply and demand–at least their writers forget.  Their sales people are abundantly aware of the principle.

10 year average gas prices

Courtesy of Gas Buddy


If you believe that the past has no bearing on the future, click away.  The phrase “past performance does not guarantee future results” was invented by advertising attorneys.  Who could have seen this steep a drop?  Who knows the circumstance that will start the trend back up again?  Nobody.


What we do know is that supply and demand–driven by the need to exceed the previous quarterly earnings number–will eventually catch up.  If you can’t see that in the chart above, then…well whatever.


If you’re buying a car today, are you betting that gas prices will stay low for the 4-5 years you’ll own your car?  Or is that just an added benefit today?  Are you willing to settle for a vehicle that gets 20-30 mpg?  Given that some of today’s green cars deliver the same performance and cargo capacity as their gas-only brethren, are you interested in taking advantage of the opportunity to get 35+ mpg–a low number for some of today’s plug-in hybrids?

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Sebastian James

Accept no substitutes

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