We’d Sooner Complain Than Switch

For all the complaining people do about the high cost of gasoline, it has yet to yield a consumer stampede away from big vehicles. A survey by TechnoMetrica’s AutoView division finds that consumers who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next six months are most likely to seek a full-sized car (cited by 19 percent), a pickup (17 percent) or a mid-sized car or small SUV (15 percent each). This partly reflects the fact that the luxury end of the market is holding its own as the rest of the automotive field falters. Twenty-two percent of likely buyers said they’ll purchase a luxury brand, the highest proportion in 14 months.

Elsewhere on the automotive-data front, a J.D. Power and Associates report forecasts that this year’s new-vehicle sales will be the lowest since 1994. The current forecast, taking into account a weak market so far in 2008, is for sales of 14.95 million cars and light trucks. That’s a downward adjustment from the research firm’s original forecast of 15.7 million vehicles. Declining consumer confidence and troubles in the credit markets are obvious culprits. Also contributing to the drop-off are “less widespread incentives” on the part of the auto companies. Compounding the softness on the consumer side is a slowdown in fleet sales, amid sluggishness in the rental-car business.