Since the price of gas has been shooting up, car buying habits among Americans have changed accordingly. However, American consumers are not buying as many green cars such as hybrids and electric cars as they are compact and subcompact cars that sip the gas tank.
Almost 60 percent of Americans don’t love the Leaf
A recent poll, according to USA Today, revealed that about 57 percent of Americans would not buy an all-electric car. The poll respondents would still buy a traditional, internal combustion driven car regardless of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. The poll showed that consumers were aware that all-electric cars have a limited range compared to their gas-fueled counterparts and hybrid cars with a backup gas engine. Currently, electric car technology limits the driving range of the vehicles to a point that is impractical for most drivers. J.D. Power and Associates projects that fewer than 11,000 electric cars will be sold this year in the United States, but that number may rise to near 100,000 in 2015. Power projects that about 14 million compact and subcompact cars will be sold this year and about 15 million in 2015.
No longer just two seats and small engine
Compact and subcompact cars are no longer the strictly budget affair they used to be, according to the Wall Street Journal. Typically, a small, boxy hatchback would be two seats, a manual gearbox and an engine the size of a toaster oven, but car makers are beginning to slip luxury into their economy offerings. The Hyundai Elantra, for example, has models with heated rear seats, and it gets 40 miles per gallon. The Ford Focus Titanium comes equipped with windshield wipers that are rain-activated and a rear-facing camera for driving in reverse.The Focus also has the option of a dual clutch, six speed transmission; such a gearbox is normally the purview of Ferrari rather than Ford. The 2012 Honda Civic will have voice-activated GPS navigation, Bluetooth phone equipment and an iPod dock. Wealthier consumers are buying subcompacts as well.
The Italian job
One of the biggest events in the car industry over the last few years is Fiat purchasing a stake in Chrysler. The move has paid off, as Chrysler is getting closer to paying off loans from the American and Canadian governments, and the Fiat 500 is being launched in the U.S. Fiat recently staged a bit of a pre-launch stunt by filling a street in New York City’s SoHo district with 20 500 Cabriolet cars, according to CNN. Fiat hasn’t had a U.S. presence for nearly 30 years, but it will start selling subcompact cars very soon. Another Fiat brand, Alfa Romeo, has been rumored to be coming to the U.S. for years but has been delayed until at least 2013, according to MotorTrend, due to design issues with the new Alfa Romeo Giulia.