Gas prices and internet searches

From Bill Tancer’s blog at hitwise.com, some interesting patterns regarding internet searches and the price of gasoline.

When gas prices go up, Tancer sees a sharp spike in searches for hybrid vehicles and a less pronounced decrease in SUV searches.

(And if you are obsessed with American Idol rather than the price of gas, here is another post by Bill Tancer you will enjoy more.)

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COMMENTS: 28


  1. boslax3 says:

    WOW!!! Gas prices go up and people look for more fuel efficient vehicles??? Get that guy some grant money…

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  2. boslax3 says:

    WOW!!! Gas prices go up and people look for more fuel efficient vehicles??? Get that guy some grant money…

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  3. chimp says:

    One doesn’t have to be obsessed with American Idol to enjoy the 2nd post more. It is obviously more insightful.

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  4. chimp says:

    One doesn’t have to be obsessed with American Idol to enjoy the 2nd post more. It is obviously more insightful.

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  5. Bill Tancer says:

    boslax, true it’s a no-brainer that rising gas prices would cause an increase in searches on “gas prices,” what I find interesting here is a) what price causes an inflection in searches (previously $3.00 was the magic #) and b) how short lived the searches are regardless of a continued high gas price. Also, there appears to be a different price at which interest for fuel efficient vehicles spike…

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  6. Bill Tancer says:

    boslax, true it’s a no-brainer that rising gas prices would cause an increase in searches on “gas prices,” what I find interesting here is a) what price causes an inflection in searches (previously $3.00 was the magic #) and b) how short lived the searches are regardless of a continued high gas price. Also, there appears to be a different price at which interest for fuel efficient vehicles spike…

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  7. Look what else the 9/05 spike in gas prices produced:

    http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=health&id=3429446

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  8. Look what else the 9/05 spike in gas prices produced:

    http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=health&id=3429446

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  9. Andi says:

    Bill Tancer, prompted by high gas prices, my husband and I recently did internet searches for info on home solar panels.

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  10. Andi says:

    Bill Tancer, prompted by high gas prices, my husband and I recently did internet searches for info on home solar panels.

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  11. Bill Tancer says:

    Stephen, I couldn’t resist… just charted searches for “gas” v. searches for “blood” here:

    http://weblogs.hitwise.com/bill-tancer/2006/05/blood_and_gas.html

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  12. Bill Tancer says:

    Stephen, I couldn’t resist… just charted searches for “gas” v. searches for “blood” here:

    http://weblogs.hitwise.com/bill-tancer/2006/05/blood_and_gas.html

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  13. Taed says:

    If you do a similar search using the new Google Trends, there is not the same correlation at all. For example, with “gas prices”, you see the same peak in September 2005, but the other two spikes are not present.
    http://www.google.com/trends?q=%22gas+prices%22

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  14. Taed says:

    If you do a similar search using the new Google Trends, there is not the same correlation at all. For example, with “gas prices”, you see the same peak in September 2005, but the other two spikes are not present.
    http://www.google.com/trends?q=%22gas+prices%22

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  15. Don says:

    The economics of diesels and hybrids are interesting. I live in the UK where petrol prices are sky-high compared with the US, so I researched buying a car with a diesel engine and learned that it doesn’t make sense for a person looking for a used car as I was.

    The trouble is that prices for used diesels cars tend to be £2000 more than for comparable petrol models, and the yearly savings on fuel for a normal driver (say 12,000 miles a year) about £250-300 a year. One would have to drive the car between 7 and 8 years to make up the difference in price not counting additional finance costs or higher maintanence costs for diesel autos.

    The economics for new models are a little different as diesel prices are only £1000 to £1500 more and the expected life of the auto longer. Also diesels tend to hold their value somewhat better for resale purposes. So if one plans to buy a new car and drive it 10 years the economics barely make sense.

    The economics also tend to make sense for high-mileage drivers. A person driving 24,000 miles a year will save £400-500 a year in fuel costs which will amortize the up-front costs much more quickly.

    I assume that the economics of hybrids are worse given that I understand that they require replacement of the electric system after 3 years at a cost of £3000. So when I see hybrids described as status symbols I can readily understand why. Until maintenence and up-front costs can be brought down or the price of petrol doubles they won’t make a lot of economic sense.

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  16. Don says:

    The economics of diesels and hybrids are interesting. I live in the UK where petrol prices are sky-high compared with the US, so I researched buying a car with a diesel engine and learned that it doesn’t make sense for a person looking for a used car as I was.

    The trouble is that prices for used diesels cars tend to be ?2000 more than for comparable petrol models, and the yearly savings on fuel for a normal driver (say 12,000 miles a year) about ?250-300 a year. One would have to drive the car between 7 and 8 years to make up the difference in price not counting additional finance costs or higher maintanence costs for diesel autos.

    The economics for new models are a little different as diesel prices are only ?1000 to ?1500 more and the expected life of the auto longer. Also diesels tend to hold their value somewhat better for resale purposes. So if one plans to buy a new car and drive it 10 years the economics barely make sense.

    The economics also tend to make sense for high-mileage drivers. A person driving 24,000 miles a year will save ?400-500 a year in fuel costs which will amortize the up-front costs much more quickly.

    I assume that the economics of hybrids are worse given that I understand that they require replacement of the electric system after 3 years at a cost of ?3000. So when I see hybrids described as status symbols I can readily understand why. Until maintenence and up-front costs can be brought down or the price of petrol doubles they won’t make a lot of economic sense.

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  17. tyco says:

    I know that this doesn’t have to do with the gas prices and internet searches but this is what I think about reports of Realtors.

    It’s sad to see as a Realtor that we have such a bad reputation. I feel sometimes offended by some reports like this. But I understand that there are a lot of corrupt agents and good ones too. My point is that the corrupt ones won’t last long. The problem with Internet discount brokers is that a company like that based in New Mexico, won’t be able to know about the market in Pennsylvania.

    That is something consumers need to know. The service won’t be the same as with a local realtor that knows the neighborhood. Is exactly the same with those companies that offer free info. on mortages like lendingtree.com that don’t tell people about those big hidden fees at the end of the transaction. People be aware that not everything that is in the Internet is good.

    Another issue is, that some clients are in clouds when it comes to their house price. They think their house is worth certain high price and they live in that fantasy world and sometimes as a Realtor we have an obligation to let them know that’s not the price for the market. So if we can’t convince them to be realistic about the price we end up listing an overpriced house, that stays there for a long time without selling and with an angry seller because he won’t listen. I am one that avoids those difficult sellers that won’t listen to their agent because they tend to think that they know more than us about the local market.

    Ah, and people that have their house cluttered and dirty, listen to your agent when he says to declutter, paint and clean your house so it can sell, please.

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  18. tyco says:

    I know that this doesn’t have to do with the gas prices and internet searches but this is what I think about reports of Realtors.

    It’s sad to see as a Realtor that we have such a bad reputation. I feel sometimes offended by some reports like this. But I understand that there are a lot of corrupt agents and good ones too. My point is that the corrupt ones won’t last long. The problem with Internet discount brokers is that a company like that based in New Mexico, won’t be able to know about the market in Pennsylvania.

    That is something consumers need to know. The service won’t be the same as with a local realtor that knows the neighborhood. Is exactly the same with those companies that offer free info. on mortages like lendingtree.com that don’t tell people about those big hidden fees at the end of the transaction. People be aware that not everything that is in the Internet is good.

    Another issue is, that some clients are in clouds when it comes to their house price. They think their house is worth certain high price and they live in that fantasy world and sometimes as a Realtor we have an obligation to let them know that’s not the price for the market. So if we can’t convince them to be realistic about the price we end up listing an overpriced house, that stays there for a long time without selling and with an angry seller because he won’t listen. I am one that avoids those difficult sellers that won’t listen to their agent because they tend to think that they know more than us about the local market.

    Ah, and people that have their house cluttered and dirty, listen to your agent when he says to declutter, paint and clean your house so it can sell, please.

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  19. joe says:

    Check out natural gas prices at San Jose Airport

    http://www.sjc.org/newsroom/press/2006/cng.pdf

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  20. joe says:

    Check out natural gas prices at San Jose Airport

    http://www.sjc.org/newsroom/press/2006/cng.pdf

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  21. RAWhitt says:

    Do you think the gas price spike will lead to less smoking? How about gas vs. smoking cessation programs/aides searches? If people are supposedly selling blood for gas money I’m sure many are trying to convert cigarette money into gas money

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  22. RAWhitt says:

    Do you think the gas price spike will lead to less smoking? How about gas vs. smoking cessation programs/aides searches? If people are supposedly selling blood for gas money I’m sure many are trying to convert cigarette money into gas money

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  23. tao1965usa says:

    What about liquor money? Perhaps alcoholics could convert the money they spend on liquor into gas money to drive to an AA meeting once a week?

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  24. tao1965usa says:

    What about liquor money? Perhaps alcoholics could convert the money they spend on liquor into gas money to drive to an AA meeting once a week?

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  25. tyco says:

    Is amazing people are complaining about gas prices, when I see them shopping like crazy each week at the mall, eating at restaurants, driving suv’s and golfing. Women love those expensive shoes and those guess jeans that cost an average of $70 a pair. Seriously, I think America is very rich and has a lot to spend, so stop whynning and save more. Let this people live one month in Uganda, Africa to see if they come back and still complain of their life. Remember, all this people complain because they spend like crazy on their credit cards and then they can’t pay. Talk about being dumb.

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  26. tyco says:

    Is amazing people are complaining about gas prices, when I see them shopping like crazy each week at the mall, eating at restaurants, driving suv’s and golfing. Women love those expensive shoes and those guess jeans that cost an average of $70 a pair. Seriously, I think America is very rich and has a lot to spend, so stop whynning and save more. Let this people live one month in Uganda, Africa to see if they come back and still complain of their life. Remember, all this people complain because they spend like crazy on their credit cards and then they can’t pay. Talk about being dumb.

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  27. zbicyclist says:

    Just for grins, I looked up some references to gas price elasticity. These are at http://journals.aol.com/mikekr/ZbicyclistsZlog/entries/763

    Basically, short term elasticity is about -.2, which means if gas goes from $3 to $6 (+100%), consumption will go down about 20%. Of course, this number has a lot of uncertainty about it, since the “ceteris paribus” assumption obviously wouldn’t hold for a change this large.

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  28. zbicyclist says:

    Just for grins, I looked up some references to gas price elasticity. These are at http://journals.aol.com/mikekr/ZbicyclistsZlog/entries/763

    Basically, short term elasticity is about -.2, which means if gas goes from $3 to $6 (+100%), consumption will go down about 20%. Of course, this number has a lot of uncertainty about it, since the “ceteris paribus” assumption obviously wouldn’t hold for a change this large.

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