HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Consumers just keep watching those gas prices go up, up, up. Last week, we told you that Hawaii had the dubious distinction of being the first state in the nation with average fuel prices over four dollars a gallon. So, we wanted to see if higher gas prices are having an inverse effect on large vehicle sales. Are they plummeting?
At Servco Hawaii, sales of SUVs and trucks have remained steady.
Servco Hawaii's Glenn Inouye says, "Here in Hawaii, SUVs provide a lot of versatility for our customers so there's still a pretty high demand." Despite the numbers game at gas stations across the islands, the recent hikes in fuel prices haven't deterred local buyers from "going big". At least, not yet.
Inouye says, "I'm sure as prices continue to increase, people will become more conscious of miles-per-gallon and certainly, the more fuel-efficient cars will gain more interest."
Kelly Blue Book collects vehicle pricing information, and according to its recent March survey, more than 80 percent of car shoppers say recent gas hikes HAVE influenced their decision on whether or not to buy a vehicle. Respondents say the economy has forced them to consider decreased engine size, decreased vehicle size, fewer or no options, and used instead of new vehicles.
But auto experts in Hawaii say, since we drive 20 percent less miles than motorists on the mainland and because extended families in Hawaii still prefer larger vehicles, SUVs and trucks will likely remain popular.
"I don't anticipate that there would be a dramatic effect this time because we've had that price point broken before at four dollars, and we saw what happened then. It won't be as bad this time, and it might be just like a speed bump," says Dave Rolf of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers' Association.
Rolf points out, though, that at last week's auto show, drivers started gravitating towards vehicles with more alternative fuels - whether they were trucks, SUVs, or cars - and believes Hawaii will be a test bed for that market.