Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reasons For Car Purchase Decisions

Each year, J. D. Power and Associates releases the results of its car purchase survey, detailing the reasons why people buy certain models and avoid others. Categorizing car purchase decisions is tricky business, but J. D. Power has been at the game for a long time, and this year’s data was quite surprising, to say the least.

This was the first time since the survey’s inception, nine years ago, that car buyers were really enthusiastic about American cars.The data looks at the number of people who avoid cars that are made in the U.S., and this most recent iteration of J. D. Power’s survey showed that very few avoid American cars. In the past, significant numbers of buyers gravitated toward foreign autos, especially Japanese imports.

The biggest surprise in this year’s data was the fact that gas mileage was the dominant reason for car purchases. Specifically, more than 17% of consumers rated fuel efficiency at the top of their buying criteria roster. Other categories that were important were style, reliability, financing, and performance.

Breaking the results down, it becomes apparent that Hyundai owners are the most swayed by fuel efficiency, with well over a third of them listing gas mileage as the number one reason they bought a Hyundai.

So-called alternative fuel vehicles were not huge sellers this past model year, though the genre is slowly beginning to make a mark on sales statistics, especially if one counts cars like the Toyota Prius and similar hybrid-electric autos. The Chevy Volt ranked highest among buyers who were concerned about projecting an image of concern for the environment. Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf owners wanted low fuel bills and small maintenance costs. An auto warranty is the typical way for car owners to avoid unexpected repair bills.

Major studies have pointed out that the primary reason buyers avoid electric models has to do with range. Perception is strong, and car shoppers consider the electric vehicles to be at risk of being stranded. Even Nissan’s reliable Leaf, with a range of more than 100 miles, is a bit of a hard pill for car buyers to swallow.

While the increased auto warranty packages that manufacturers are offering doesn't seem to have been a notable (or noted) factor this year, one thing is for sure: car buyers' attitudes and priorities are ever changing.

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