2012 Hyundai ElantraEnlarge Photo
For the first time in several years, gas mileage tops the list of most influential reasons why consumers purchased their vehicle, surpassing reliability. That’s according to data from the just-released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Avoider Study.
The 2012 Avoider Study, now in its ninth year, looks at the reasons consumers fail to consider, or avoid, certain models when they’re shopping for a new vehicle. But it also provides valuable insight into why consumers narrow in on a particular model and wind up buying it.
2012 Volkswagen PassatEnlarge Photo
What most influences purchase decision
Jon Osborn, research director for J.D. Power, said in a phone interview that gas mileage is the number one driver for vehicle purchases today. “It varies by brand,” Osborn said. “Gas mileage is more important in a small and compact car.” The top five most influential reasons for buying a particular vehicle, as reported by the 2012 survey respondents, were as follows:
Comparing this to the 2010 Avoider Study, Osborn said that the most influential reasons for purchase then were, in order, reliability (14%); the “deal” (12%); exterior styling and gas mileage (tied at 10%); quality of workmanship (9%), and performance (8%).
Going back to pre-recession and the 2007 Avoider Study, the reasons were: reliability and gas mileage (tied at 13%); exterior styling (10%); performance and quality of workmanship (tied at 9%), and the “deal” (6%).
Study results showed that among all brands, Hyundai buyers (35.62%) are the most likely to purchase due to good gas mileage. Other makes most mentioned by survey respondents who indicated that gas mileage was their most influential reason for purchasing included Volkswagen (30.43%); Chevrolet (24.00%); Ford (21.76%) and Kia (20.04%). The industry average is 17.16 percent.
Biggest reasons for not buying
As for the biggest reasons consumers said they didn’t buy a particular vehicle, Osborn said that 35 percent of survey respondents said exterior styling was the number one turn-off. That was followed by purchase price (22%); reliability (19%); interior design (18%); online ratings/reviews (15%)
Number six on the reasons for not buying: foreign/import vehicle (14%). This is an increase of five percent from the 2010 survey. In contrast, only six percent said they avoided a vehicle because they didn’t want to buy an American/domestic vehicle. This is a historically low level.
2012 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Chevy Volt vs. Toyota Prius vs. Nissan Leaf
The study also found that with certain alternative fuel vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf, the two most-often-cited reasons for buying were gas mileage and environmental impact. There were, however, marked differences in the next-most-cited reason. Volt buyers said the image of the vehicle was a prominent reason to purchase, while buyers of the Prius and Leaf cited reliability and low maintenance costs, respectively.
2012 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
The biggest reason not to purchase the Volt was purchase price, while exterior styling was a turn-off for buyers who didn’t purchase the Prius and Leaf. Study respondents also cited the small size of both the Volt and the Leaf as a prominent reason not to buy, while a primary avoidance reason for Prius was performance.
2012 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
Perception lags reality
“It takes a long time for perceptions to change,” Osborn said. “But the past three years, things changed dramatically. The domestics are meeting the needs in the marketplace better than they used to.
“There are no shoddy cars in the market today,” Osborn said. “There are a lot of great products.”
Osborn added that consumers today are considering an average of 3.1 vehicles, meaning they consider three and buy one. That’s a small shopping list, but it’s increased from last year when it was 2.9 vehicles considered.
“This translates into huge consideration rates and a large number of shoppers,” Osborn said.