In Driving update for September 2014: Ruby, I lamented the fate of my old car.
Yuki may not reach that milestone, at least not with me driving her. My wife and I are shopping for another car, and Yuki will likely be the one traded in. Sigh. That will deserve a post of its own when that happens, along with the story of how buying Ruby was the fulfillment of a promise I made to my students. Later.We've bought the new car, but I didn't trade in Yuki, at least not yet. I'll write Yuki's farewell when I either sell her or trade her in. Until then, I have stories from both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University about buying cars.
First, the University of Michigan reported Increased interest in hybrids among non-hybrid owners on October 2, 2014.
ANN ARBOR—Current owners of hybrid vehicles are very satisfied with them and most will buy a hybrid again, say University of Michigan researchers.Before last week, I wouldn't have answered that I was going to buy a hybrid. The car that was bought was my wife's choice and she wasn't in the market for a hybrid. Now that we have bought a car, I'd probably say yes. I would like the next car to be a hybrid or all-electric vehicle (the Volt counts as one, as it has an all-electric drive train with a gas-powered generator, not a motor; a true hybrid has both electric and internal combustion drive trains). It will make up for the new car having lower gas mileage than Yuki.
And nearly a third of non-owners plan to purchase a hybrid for their next vehicle.
Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute surveyed about 1,000 current owners of hybrids (94 percent own non-plug-ins and 6 percent own plug-ins) and another roughly 1,000 car owners who don't drive hybrids.
They found that 83 percent of hybrid owners plan to buy another one for their next vehicle (a third of these drivers intend to purchase a plug-in car). Another 3 percent of all hybrid owners plan to buy a fully electric vehicle, instead.
Hybrid cars accounted for less than 4 percent of all light-duty vehicle sales last year, the researchers say. However, it was the highest percentage (3.8) and the second straight year of rising sales for hybrids.
Environmental impact was the most important reason cited by owners for buying a hybrid (33 percent), followed by long-term costs (28 percent) and less energy use (25 percent).
"Females tended to be more concerned than males about the environmental impact," Sivak said.
Among non-hybrid owners, 31 percent intend to buy a hybrid for their next vehicle. Although a third of drivers are not considering hybrids at all, more than half of them would reconsider, especially if the initial costs were lower.
Speaking of lower gas mileage, follow over the jump for the latest on the mileage of cars purchased in the U.S. as well as how parents influence the car-buying choices of their offspring.
The University of Michigan also contributed this piece of bad news/good news on September 6: Large drop in fuel economy in September.
Gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. posted its largest drop in nearly three years, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.My wife and I bought our new car at the end of September and its fuel economy is just below the average for last month's purchases. As I wrote, I want to buy a hybrid or all-electric vehicle in order to make up for the loss in fuel economy by replacing Yuki with the new car.
Average fuel economy (window-sticker values) of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased in September was 25.3 mpg, down from a record high 25.8 mpg in August. The last time fuel economy fell by 0.5 mpg was in December 2011.
"This large drop likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs, and the reduced demand for fuel efficient vehicles of all types because of the falling gas prices," said UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak.
Regardless, it was the eighth straight month that vehicle fuel economy topped 25 mpg and is now up 5.2 mpg from October 2007, the first full month of monitoring by Sivak and colleague Brandon Schoettle.
In addition to average fuel economy, Sivak and Schoettle issued a monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving—the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag.
During July, the EDI improved to a record-low 0.77 (the lower the value, the better), down from 0.78 in June and the third month in a row that it had fallen. The index currently shows emissions of greenhouse gases per driver of newly purchased vehicles are now down 23 percent, overall, since October 2007.
Finally, Michigan State University presented its own findings about the influence of family on car purchases in Parents drive kids’ car choices on October 2.
New research suggests dear old Mom and Dad could be the auto industry’s secret weapon.This didn't work on me. My parents drove Ford Motor Company products, but I never owned a Ford, Mercury, or Lincoln. Instead, I drove Japanese cars until Yuki, a Korean car. Ruby is technically an American car, but she was built in Canada using a Suzuki design, so I feel very comfortable in her. That's OK. She's American enough to satisfy the previous promise I made about the next car I'd buy. I told my students that the next car I bought would be American. Ruby's just American enough to qualify.
The study, co-authored by Michigan State University economist Soren Anderson, found children are 39 percent more likely to buy a particular brand of automobile if their parents bought that brand.
This surprisingly strong correlation could have implications for automakers’ marketing efforts. In absence of this inherited brand loyalty, a sensible strategy might be to “invest in young consumers and harvest old consumers” – that is, lower prices on entry-level vehicles to attract young people and then raise prices on higher-end vehicles once they’re hooked on the brand.
But if young buyers are coming to auto showrooms already loyal to a brand, thanks to their parents, manufacturers might consider upping prices on entry-level vehicles. Conversely, more incentives could be offered on sport utility vehicles and other high-end vehicles to snag more older customers – and, eventually, their children.
“In theory, these findings could change the way automakers price and market their cars,” Anderson said.
Since I satisfied that promise, I told my wife she could buy whatever she wanted. She missed the German cars she used to drive, so she wanted another German car. She got one and she's happy. So am I. Happy wife, happy life.