Gas prices send people looking for new cars

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - It seems like skyrocketing gas prices would hurt car sales, but a new report says paying nearly $4.00 at the pump has actually boosted car dealerships across the country.

Automotive News reports that 13 percent more vehicles were sold this March compared to last year with people looking for more fuel efficient models.

Brad Williams, General Sales Manager with Rivertown Ford in Columbus, says their dealership is seeing much of the same from customers.

"They're looking for vehicles that are reliable, and they are fuel efficient and something that is not going to break the bank when they go to the pump and something that [allows] you to just pass the pump.  Customers are looking for that.  They are very conscience about the economy.  They are very conscience about their pocket book," said Williams.

Williams says they have seen an increase of business across the board this year including their F-series pickup with fuel efficiency technology allowing for more than 20 miles per gallon and their fuel friendly cars that can get up to 40 miles per gallon.

"It makes a big difference because fuel prices or buying fuel ends up being our largest purchase every month.  We pay more for that commodity than we do anything else," said Larry Byrd while shopping for a new car.

"If you look at somebody trading in a vehicle that might get 20 miles per gallon and they're going to 40 miles per gallons.  All of a sudden you're doubling your fuel economy and at $4 a gallon.  That goes a long way for some people," said Williams.

An average person drives 15,000 miles a year.  If you have a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon, you can be spending about $3,000 dollars at the pump with prices at nearly $4 per gallon.  However, with a more fuel efficient vehicle with 40 miles per gallon, you can cut that number in half to $1,500 this year for gas.

Williams says as the prices continue to rise, you can expect vehicles to keep improving because every year companies are pushing for more efficiency.

"You're just seeing the bar raised and the bar raised as far miles per gallon and what you can get out of a tank of gas."

The most recent reports by say gas could be just under $5.00 by the summer.

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