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As gasoline prices climb, sales of new vehicles with 8-, 6-, 4-cylinder engines remain stable—for now

November 18, 2010

Despite the perception of rising gas prices, U.S. consumers continue to buy about the same proportion of new vehicles equipped with eight-, six- or four-cylinder engines as they did in the summer of 2005, according to the real-time retail transaction data released April 24 from the Power Information Network (PIN). 

In January, February and March of 2006, nearly one-quarter of all new vehicles purchased by consumers in the United States have been equipped with eight-cylinder engines. In July, August and September of 2005, sales rates of eight-cylinder vehicles were 28 percent, 23 percent and 24 percent, respectively.


Sales rates of six- and four-cylinder engine-vehicles also have been constant. New cars and light trucks with six-cylinder engines have accounted for 40 percent to 42 percent of all new-vehicle retail sales during the past nine months, and products with four-cylinder engines have comprised about 30 percent to 33 percent overall. 

"So far, the perceived gas price increases have not had any discernable impact on new-vehicle buying patterns, at least with regard to the size of the engine," said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at PIN.


"Gas prices are certainly becoming a popular dinner and water cooler discussion topic, but consumers appear to be conditioned to prices at current levels," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting.  

"We do not expect a significant change in the kinds of vehicles consumers purchase as a result. It is, and will be, all about choice for consumers. There are several smaller vehicle options coming, as well as fresh products in the full-size SUV segment," said Schuster.


Additionally, the days-to-turn rate (the number of days a vehicle spends on a dealership lot) has remained constant for each of the engine categories: new vehicles with eight-cylinder engines have turned about every 68 to 74 days; six-cylinder vehicles every 61 to 68 days; and four-cylinder vehicles every 39 to 49 days.  

Four-cylinder vehicles have consistently turned faster than the overall industry average (59 to 65 days), while six-cylinder and eight-cylinder vehicles have turned slower. 


PIN’s data are based on the collection and analysis of daily new- and used-vehicle retail transaction information from more than 10,000 automotive dealership franchises in North America. The data incorporate consumer demand and sales information.