Monday, April 24, 2006

Truck Sales And High Gas Prices


LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Despite the perception of rising gas prices, U.S.
consumers are still buying about the same proportion of new vehicles
equipped with eight-, six- or four-cylinder engines as they did in the
summer of 2005, according to the real-time retail transaction data from the
Power Information Network .

In January, February and March of 2006, nearly one-quarter of all new
vehicles purchased by consumers in the United States have been equipped
with eight-cylinder engines. In July, August and September of 2005, sales
rates of eight-cylinder vehicles were 28 percent, 23 percent and 24
percent, respectively.

Sales rates of six- and four-cylinder engine-vehicles have also been
constant. New cars and light trucks with six-cylinder engines have
accounted for 40 to 42 percent of all new-vehicle retail sales during the
past nine months, and products with four-cylinder engines have comprised
about 30 to 33 percent overall.

"So far, the perceived gas price increases have not had any discernable
impact on new-vehicle buying patterns, at least with regard to the size of
the engine," said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at PIN.
"Gas prices are certainly becoming a popular dinner and water cooler
discussion topic, but consumers appear to be conditioned to prices at
current levels," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global
forecasting at J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting. "We do not expect a
significant change in the kinds of vehicles consumers purchase as a result.
It is, and will be, all about choice for consumers. There are several
smaller vehicle options coming, as well as fresh products in the full-size
SUV segment."

Additionally, the days-to-turn rate (the number of days a vehicle spends on
a dealership lot) has remained constant for each of the engine categories:
new vehicles with eight-cylinder engines have turned about every 68 to 74
days; six-cylinder vehicles every 61 to 68 days; and four-cylinder vehicles
every 39 to 49 days. Four-cylinder vehicles have consistently turned faster
than the overall industry average (59 to 65 days), while six-cylinder and
eight-cylinder vehicles have turned slower.

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