#denver auto show
Denver Auto Show patrons say cheap gas not a factor in car purchases
Ten-year-old Joshua Santos of Loveland takes the wheel of a 2015 Chevy Silverado 3500 High Country 4WD priced at $34,995 at the Denver Auto Show at the Colorado Convention Center on Thursday. (Photos by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post )
Consumer opinions at the Denver Auto Show are as diverse and colorful as the lineup of displayed vehicles except on one issue.
When it comes to gasoline prices, what goes down must come up.
Two-dollar gas is a pleasant but fleeting phenomenon that has little bearing on buying a car, according to a sampling of attendees at the show.
“Cheap gas makes me happier about buying an SUV, but we’d be doing it anyway regardless of gas prices,” said Denver resident Lew Winston, who with wife Pam was casting fond glances at a 2015 Ford Explorer Sport.
The Winstons need SUV capacity for road trips and to have enough passenger space to haul their grandchildren.
“If gas was $4 a gallon, we’d still be looking at this (Explorer),” Winston said.
The National Automobile Dealers Association is projecting that light trucks and SUVs will account for 56 percent of U.S. vehicle sales this year, up from 53 percent last year.
“Low fuel prices have accelerated that change,” said Steven Szakaly, chief economist of the association. “When we’re paying less for gasoline, people increasingly favor the utility and comfort that larger vehicles provide.”
Szakaly noted that trucks and SUVs have recorded steady improvements in fuel economy in the past decade.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported this week that Denver’s average gasoline price of $2.27 for all grades is the lowest among 10 cities surveyed nationwide. Colorado, with an average price of $2.28, was the cheapest in the EIA’s nine-state survey.
“I’m influenced by (a vehicle’s) fuel mileage rating but not really by gas prices. I assume that they’re going to come back up,” said Isaac Smith, who traveled from northeast Wyoming to visit the auto show.
Several Denver-area stations are selling regular gas for $2.05 a gallon or less.
Those prices the lowest in six years are immaterial to auto show attendee and car enthusiast Roland Ochs of Denver.
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A patron takes a peek inside a 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus Shaker. It’s going for $40,780.
Ochs owns a 2008 Dodge Viper and a 2012 Dodge Challenger. Still, he said he was giving thought to buying a 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat. on display at the auto show with its hood open to show off a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 that generates a neck-snapping 707 horsepower.
Ochs said he is more concerned about his wife’s reaction if he brings home another muscle car than he is about the Hellcat’s fuel tab, based on an EPA rating of 13 miles per gallon in city driving.
Denver Auto Show
Location: Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St. Denver
Hours: Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children 6-12, free under age 6