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Gas Prices Spike Searches For Hybrids

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-18

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Gas prices reaching $2.90-$3.00 per gallon appear are the boiling point that pushes consumers onto the Internet to research some peace of mind, according Hitwise. Searches for [gas prices] and [hybrid] soar at those prices, as does traffic to energy sites.

"September's breach of the $3.00/gallon mark appears to be the tripping factor for the massive spike in searches on 'gas prices,' said general manager of research at Hitwise. "Even though we ventured into the $2.90s in the last few weeks, we experienced only a moderate increase in 'gas price' searches."

The $2.90 per gallon mark, though, does set off a dramatic spike in searches for the term [hybrid]. The byproduct of that is good news for Toyota and Honda, two car manufacturers that offer hybrid automobiles. In April, Toyota's website enjoyed a traffic increase of 42 percent overall while visits to Honda's website increased by 19 percent.

The largest spike in traffic went to websites like Gas Price Alert and Gas Buddy, where visitors flocked by an increase of 432 percent and 417 percent respectively between April 1st and April 29th.

The pain at the pump also pushes interest in alternative energy. Hitwise says searches for the term [ethanol] were up 212 percent for the four weeks ending May 13th, and searches for [biodiesel] was up 100 percent. Tancer reasons that increased attention to ethanol as an alternate fuel source in 2006 has caused it to overtake biodiesel, which was more popular last September.

In April, the market share of visits to the government site FuelEconomy.gov were up 115 percent over March 2006, and visits to the American Coalition for Ethanol site and the US Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site were up 96 percent and 78 percent respectively.

The flipside of that, fewer people are searching for [SUV] and even [roadside motels] as the summer travel season begins.

"The majority of visits to the motel category occur during the summer months, yet as gas prices increase over the last several weeks, there is a noticeable decline in visits to the category," said Tancer.


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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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