A new study indicates American consumers are increasingly interested in smaller cars, but harbor reservations about size and features.
The study underscores the challenge auto makers face in trying to meet government-mandated improvements in fuel economy while still delivering what consumers want and will buy.
“Our research indicates that American car buyers are definitely willing to buy a more fuel-efficient car, but they don't want it to be much smaller than what they are driving today,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, the research firm that did the study based on a survey of more than 32,000 vehicle buyers.
Tomorrow's successful small car won't be tiny, he says. “It will be reasonably sized, have increased fuel economy, adequate performance and a full load of customer features.”
Peterson says the survey shows present owners of the smallest cars in the U.S., such as the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Chevrolet Aveo, want more power, acceleration, technology and cargo room next time they buy. “When they bought these cars, they accepted lower power and cargo room for better fuel economy and a high value price. But in the future they want something more.”