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A new survey by Harris Interactive found that with high gas prices beginning to bite into consumers’ habits, three-quarters (74%) of adults polled say that American car companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build automobiles that consume less gasoline. Only 9% say the auto companies are moving as quickly as they should.
The survey found that 44% of car owners say they have cut back on products or services in order to compensate for the rising costs of gasoline.
Those with lower incomes are more likely than those with higher incomes to say they are cutting back, but even 37% of those car owners who earn $75,000 or more say they have cut back on products or spending. Specifically, 29% say they are dining out less; 29% are reducing their driving; and 24% are cutting back on groceries in order to pay for gasoline.
Two in five (39%) adults think that the profits of the oil and natural gas industry have the greatest influence on rising gas prices. Just over one-quarter (27%) say the greatest influence is from world crude oil prices; smaller numbers say it is due to instability in oil producing areas (7%) and federal and state taxes (6%).
Lingering refinery outages from last year’s hurricanes is cited by 5% as the greatest influence on rising prices, while upcoming changes in fuel requirements (2%) and other refining costs (2%) were also cited as having the greatest influence.
Regionally, those in the West are more likely to say industry profits are the greatest influence (47%) while those in the South are more likely to be split between profits (35%) and world crude prices (31%).
One-third (34%) of adults think the oil and gas industry can best stop the rising prices, while 29% believe the federal government has that ability. One in five (22%) think consumers can best stop rising gas prices while very small numbers say state and local governments (3%) or the automotive industry (3%) can stop the rise of gas prices.
Generationally, two in five (40%) Gen Xers (ages 30 – 41 years) think the oil and gas industry can stop the rising prices, followed by 27% who think the federal government can do so. Only 16% of Gen Xers say consumers have the control. Baby Boomers are more split. About one-third (32%) say the federal government can stop the rise in gasoline prices followed by the oil and gas industry (31%) and consumers (25%).
Three-quarters of adults think that gas prices will be higher on Labor Day than they are today. Almost one-third (31%) say that the prices will be much higher. Few (7%) say prices will be lower on Labor Day, while 17% say gas prices will be the same.
A large majority (81%) of adults also think that heating prices this winter will be higher when compared to those costs last winter. Over one-third (35%) say that heating costs will be much higher this winter; only 3% think costs will be lower and 15% say heating prices will be the same as last winter.
The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 and 16, 2006 among 2,085 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.