Gas prices are nearing the all-time record high set in the summer of 2008. Many areas of the nation are paying more than $4/gallon and these prices are driving up the sales of hybrids and other fuel-efficient models.
Overall, American Honda posted a 5.7 percent increase in sales during April 2011. Sales of the Honda Insight hybrid increased by 35.4 percent and the fuel-efficient Honda Fit posted a sales increase of 66.3 percent over April 2010 numbers. American Honda also sold 1,819 CR-Z hybrids, an increase of 134 units from March 2011.
General Motors also saw an increase in sales of some fuel-efficient models. Although Chevy Volt sales dropped to 493 units from 608 in March, sales of the Chevy Aveo increased by 61.1 percent when compared to last year. The Chevy Malibu also posted a double-digit increase in sales, up 43.8 percent from April 2010 numbers.
Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. Sales Operations for General Motors commented on the link between gas prices and sales trends. “Recently, rising fuel prices have led many to re-think their vehicle choice. Because of the investments we’ve made in fuel-efficiency and global product architectures, the company is well positioned to meet these needs.” Source: GM
Sales at Nissan North America also followed the trend. During April 2011, the company sold 573 Nissan Leafs, almost doubling the 298 units sold in March. Nissan also saw an increase in sales of the Sentra (+42.2 percent) and the Altima (+16.7 percent).
Unfortunately, Toyota sales were not as strong as other automakers due to production delays from the March earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Sales of the Prius were down 4.3 percent and Yaris sales were down 50.5 percent.
The rising gas prices aren’t just driving up sales of new fuel-efficient vehicles, recent survey data from KBB.com show that used car shoppers are also keeping fuel costs in mind. According to the April 2011 Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence survey, 84 percent of respondents said that fuel costs are influencing their car-buying process and 90 percent expect gas prices to continue to rise over the next 30 days.