US car buyers downsizing as gas prices bite

Analysis of US car sales figures in March has shown that the trend towards small vehicles in a country renowned for its gas guzzlers is picking up pace faster than ever.

American car sales rose last month, surprising some analysts who believed they would fall, with figures from automakers and third party analysts showing that it was small, fuel-efficient models which were responsible for much of the rise.

The soaring price of gasoline helped push US buyers towards smaller vehicles, with Edmunds.com calculating that a 26 percent jump in sales of subcompact and compact cars occurred in March.

Ford, which overtook GM last month as the most popular automaker in the US (by monthly sales), said that demand for its fuel-efficient vehicles was up by 19 percent last month.

“With gasoline prices eclipsing $3.50 a gallon, consumers are placing a high priority on fuel efficiency in every size and kind of vehicle," said Ford executive Ken Czubay.

Figures from the automakers showed that both the Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion set sales records in March, while sales of the Chevrolet Cruze compact were up 287 percent over the model it replaced and sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid were up 52 percent.

The shift in car-buying patterns has been reflected in the deals automakers are offering consumers - the average spent on "incentives" by automakers dropped 8.6 percent ($220) between February and March 2011, as small cars have a much lower rate of discounting.

According to Edmunds.com, automakers spent $4,619 on incentives for large vehicles large month, and only $1,055 on subcompact vehicles.

All this, of course, is good news for the environment, and with traditionally-low gasoline prices in the US now well over $3.50 a gallon (approximately $0.92 a liter), warnings that figures could rise to $4 a gallon ($1.05 a liter) over summer could mean that America's new penchant for smaller cars is here to stay.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Mobile Engineer - Powered Access

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They pride themselves that they...

    Recruitment Genius: Pharmacy Branch Manager

    £19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This pharmacy group are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

    Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

    £38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence