The study, which associates gas prices with online consideration of specific vehicle models and types, showed that about $2.80 per gallon currently is a "psychological turning point for consumers," as Edmunds.com executive director Dr. David Tompkins put it.
Researchers also projected what would happen if gasoline prices reach an average national price of $4 per gallon. The firm predicts that if gas hits that level, hybrids would receive a 502% percent increase in customer consideration; interest in traditional mid-size SUVs, large SUVs and large trucks would decrease at rates of 35%, 34% and 26%, respectively.
The luxury car and luxury SUV segments would be cushioned from it all, keeping at a 15% increase, because buyers of those expensive models don't have to sweat gas prices as much.
Also, brands perceived to be more fuel-efficient would receive more consideration: Japanese trucks would fare better than domestic ones even though domestic trucks tend to earn better fuel economy; and the Saturn Aura hybrid will fare better than the Chevrolet Malibu hybrid--even though the two vehicles use identical powertrain components and therefore generally achieve the same fuel efficiency, per Edmunds.