High Petrol Prices = More Car Sales ... go figure?

According to the car industry in todays SMH, the rising costs of petrol has not reduced the number of car sales but increased it as people look to buy smaller vehicles.

CONTRARY to popular belief, rising petrol prices could be one of the reasons for - not against - record new-car sales, as buyers trade gas-guzzlers for fuel-efficient models.

Figures published yesterday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showed Australians bought a record 1,049,982 new vehicles last year - the first time the tally has passed the 1 million mark in a calendar year.

Rather than depending on public transport, motorists are downsizing to more economical vehicles. "Even where public transport is good, people like to have the freedom to travel on their own terms," said the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Andrew McKellar. "One of the challenges for big cities in the future is dealing with the fact people like to have the freedom to travel when it suits them."

He cites the fact that over the past two years petrol prices rose by more than 50 per cent, and yet there were record new-car sales. "Rather than abandoning the car, buyers are embracing more fuel-efficient models," he said.

I guess this could be seen as a positive in that people are buying smaller cars, but it does also suggest that drivers are far more likely to develop strategies of adaptation rather than consider switching to other modes. One of the interesting aspects of the Automotive Industry's comments was the way they push the idea of ‘cars’ = ‘freedom’ and other forms of transportation impinge peoples desire for 'freedom'. They obviously forgot to mention that they were referring to drivers 'freedom' to remain stuck in gridlock.

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