Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gas prices have some who switched to small cars experiencing buyer's remorse, wanting more from econo boxes?

So, I've been reading posts at AutoBlog (linked in title) and The Auto Prophet about American Buyers who switched from traditional large vehicles to smaller vehicles when gas prices spiked who are now experiencing buyer's remorse, wanting more power and space and features.

Now that gas prices are "low" they aren't happy with their Honda Fit, or Toyota Yaris.
Economy cars in the North American market traditionally don't come well equipped, unlike Europe. I know this from shopping around back in 2006 when I bought my Mazda 3.
Also in 2005 when we were getting a coupe for my honey.

So, maybe FoMoCo is going to be in a good position with new Euro offerings coming over the next 18 months? Ford already offers a good amount of technology, with their SYNC system available on Focus and everything above that. And unlike some other economy offerings, Ford offers factory leather, moonroof and other "luxury" options across the line, although good luck finding economy models optioned that way on dealer lots. But that's not really Ford's fault, it's American consumers who dictate what's on the lot. And most Americans don't want to pay over $17k for an "economy car." Not when you can get a nicely equipped mid-size sedan for a little more coin.

Product mix on dealers lots over the next 18 months is going to be interesting to say the least. Now that gas is "cheaper" again will Americans slide back into their old habits? Will SUV and larger vehicle sales start to pick up? And what happens if fuel prices spike again?

I'm not your typical American consumer, I like smaller vehicles, but I want the features you'd find on larger vehicles as well. After owning my Mazda 3 these last couple of years, I wouldn't consider a new vehicle without heated leather seats, a premium sound system and moonroof. And I'm not adverse to paying near the $20k pricepoint for that combination. But will Americans follow that course? And can manufacturers meet the new expectations ?

The new Fiesta and Focus from Europe are capable, well equipped, relatively frugal cars but in Europe consumers expect to pay for that combination. Can American consumers make the leap?


Anonymous said...

Mazdaspeed 3 is the answer , and eccoboost from ford. I get 20 to 25 MPG and love my car.


Anonymous said...

Just wait until the 2.0L Ecoboost engines show up. V6+ torque, I4 fuel economy, turbo goodness. I can't wait.