Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Wed04162014

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Back Local News High gasoline prices boost interest in fuel-efficient cars

High gasoline prices boost interest in fuel-efficient cars

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ALTHOUGH the price of gasoline went down by a few cents yesterday, the still relatively high cost of fuel is turning Guam’s thoroughfares into an apparent river of environment-savvy, budget-conscious motorists who are cruising the island’s roadways in their fuel-sipping vehicles that pack an average consumption of 25 miles per gallon on city driving.

A report obtained from the Guam Department of Motor Vehicles disclosed that compact cars accounted for about 36 percent of all new car registrations on the island in the first half of the year, totaling 1,333 units in the period covering January to June 2013.

This year’s six-month number is at least 3 percent higher than the average makeup of all-vehicle registration in 2012, according to the DMV data. Popular for their fuel efficiency, compact cars comprised 33 percent of all new vehicle registrations last year.

The monthly average of new compact car registrations jumped 3.2 percent this year to 222 units from last year’s 215. At the same time, the average number of new light trucks registered with the DMV dropped by 21.7 percent to 90 units per month from last year’s 115.

Inaccurate

Guam Auto Dealers Association President Jay Jones, of Triple J Motors, pointed out that the DMV information does not accurately reflect the actual new car sales figures, because it includes vehicles shipped to the island from other places, mostly Hawaii and the mainland U.S.

“The numbers generally represent all new registrations with the DMV, which include vehicles bought and imported from other places,” he explained.

Jones, however, hinted that some categories of vehicles are, indeed, experiencing hotter sales than others.

Gas prices on Guam have increased three times since January, with the highest jump taking place on July 17 at 15 cents a gallon for regular unleaded to $4.83. The price of regular unleaded on Guam first jumped by 10 cents from $4.77 to $4.87 a gallon on Jan. 29 and again on Feb. 11. It dropped by 10 cents on March 11 and went back to the year-end level of $4.78 on April 8.

Guam motorists enjoyed a year-low regular unleaded price of $4.68 per gallon for three months since April 16 prior to July’s 15-cent hike. Yesterday, gas prices at Mobil dropped 10 cents down to $4.73 per gallon.

As a result of high gas prices, Guam has seen an increased interest in fuel-efficient small cars both in shopper activity and DMV registration.

Jones said gas prices have definitely had an impact on consumers’ buying habits. “Most families now want to have at least one fuel-efficient vehicle in their fleet that they can use for more of their day-to-day driving needs.”

Popularity of compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and other smaller, more fuel-efficient offspring of bulky SUVs have also soared in recent years and remain especially hot while gas prices are high. On the island, the average registration of new compact and mid-size SUVs totaled 160 units in 2012.

On the other hand, DMV data revealed that the monthly average of new full-sized light truck registrations dropped by 17.6 percent from 34 in 2012 to 28 this year.

Increased sales of fuel-efficient car models have also caused the overall average fuel economy of new vehicles sold to rise. Industry observers estimate that the average was 23.1 miles per gallon for all new light vehicle purchases. That represents an increase from the previous average of 23 mpg.

They said that as long as gas prices continue to bring pain at the pump for drivers, car dealerships are expected to enjoy strong sales of small, fuel-efficient vehicles.

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