Commentary

Gasoline Prices Drive Web Searchers to Hybrids

Gasoline Prices Drive Web Searchers to Hybrids

According to Hitwise, searches for several key terms related to gas prices increased 300 percent or more for the week ending March 26, 2005 versus four weeks earlier. Terms with significant increases in searches included: “electric cars” up 2,900 percent; “gas prices” up 559 percent; “fuel economy” up 333 percent and “gas mileage” up 300 percent.

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At the same time, the market share of visits to the sites www.fueleconomy.gov, www.gasbuddy.com, and www.gaspricewatch.com increased by 334 percent, 214 percent, and 282 percent, respectively.

Searches for “hybrid vehicles” were flat, but searches for “toyota prius” increased 36 percent. Interestingly, after “toyota” and “toyota.com,” “toyota prius” was the top search term driving traffic to www.toyota.com. In addition, five of the top fifteen search terms that drove traffic to Lexus.com were hybrid related – “hybrid cars,” “hybrid suv,” “hybrid vehicles,” “hybrid” and “lexus hybrid” during the four weeks ending March 26, 2005.

 Bill Tancer, vice president of research, Hitwise, said “Search behaviors are a window into the consumer psyche,” said. “While it doesn’t take a genius to see a market opportunity amidst astronomical gas prices, the fact that “prius” is such a dominant search term for Toyota suggests the tremendous significance its hybrid model has in its retail lineup.”

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