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5/24/2005
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Online Consumers Seek Fuel Efficiency Data

The number of searches for terms related to fuel efficiency had more than doubled, as gasoline prices rise across the nation.

The number of searches for terms related to fuel efficiency had more than doubled, as gasoline prices rise across the nation, a web research firm said Tuesday.

In March, consumers conducted more than 1.5 million searches for terms such as gas prices, hybrid cars, Toyota Prius and gas mileage, an increase of 112 percent over February, ComScore Networks said. The hybrid Prius runs on electric batteries and gasoline,

"We've consistently found that online search activity describes the dynamics of consumer demand, especially for high consideration products such as automobiles," James Lamberti, vice president of ComScore Networks, said in a statement.

While hybrid vehicles represent a small segment of the auto industry, more than 300,000 U.S. consumers submitted hybrid-related search terms in March, ComScore said. In 2004, only 88,000 hybrids were sold, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Nevertheless, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles remained more popular with U.S. consumers, as more than a million people conducted 2.5 million SUV-related searches in March.

Hybrid searchers were 18 percent more likely to be 45 to 54 years old than the average Internet user, while SUV searchers were 19 percent more likely to be 25 to 34 years old, ComScore said. Just more than 50 percent of hybrid searchers had household incomes of $75,000 or more, compared to just less than 40 percent of SUV searchers.

Hybrid searchers were 35 percent more likely than average to live in the Pacific region, while SUV searchers were more evenly distributed across the nation.

ComScore, based in Reston, Va., bases its finding by monitoring the Internet activity of more than 2 million consumers.

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