SANDY — How long have you been driving your current car? If you're the average automobile owner, you've had it for about 11 years. That's the longest period of time that Americans have held onto their wheels in the history of the auto industry.
Now people are saying, "I want something new."
Americans are heading to the auto shows in droves, and the Utah International Auto Expo in Sandy is no exception. It's been a packed house so far this weekend as folks check out the 2013 models.
So if you're looking for something new, what's the most important thing that will get you finally take the plunge? Sure, body style will catch your eye, but these days people are asking about mileage.
"When you survey people, that's the No. 1 item they're looking at in their buying decision: fuel efficiency. Now (it's) No.1; didn't used to be." Conn Famuliner, Ford dealer
"When you survey people, that's the No. 1 item they're looking at in their buying decision: fuel efficiency. Now (it's) No.1; didn't used to be," said Conn Famuliner, a Ford dealer from the Denver area.
With the way fuel prices have bounced up and down over the past several years, prospective buyers are examining those window stickers much closer now. Manufacturers are responding too, with better performing gas, hybrid and electric vehicles, to get you further down the road.
Technology is another huge factor in a person's buying decision. Safety features are vastly improved, and more and more vehicles in all price ranges have Bluetooth and smartphone capabilities.
"You've got a fully integrated voice activation system," said General Motors product communications manager Richard James, describing one vehicle. "It's all about hands on the wheel, eyes on the road."
The industry estimates that Americans will buy 15 million vehicles in 2013; that's up dramatically from 5 years ago. And sales in Utah boomed last year: car sales went up 22 percent, and trucks were up about 13 percent.
The Utah International Auto Expo runs through Monday, Jan. 21.