Powerful cars in high demand

An increasing number of Austrians is opting for high-performance cars despite climbing fuel prices.The Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) announced today (Weds) that 31 per cent more sport utility vehicles (SUVs) were sold so far this year than in the same time span of 2010. The organisation added that car dealers look back on a 40 per cent jump of sales of expensive, top-of-the-range limousines.The VCÖ explained that they also registered a boom in sales of petrol-guzzling off-road vehicles and vans. The club pointed out that only 0.1 per cent more small cars were acquired in the first four months of 2011 compared to the equal period of last year.Federal statistics agency Statistik Austria said only yesterday that 33,317 new cars were bought and registered in April, up by five per cent compared to the same month of last year. With a total of 328,563 vehicles, more cars than ever were registered in the country last year.These figures seem to confirm that many people have left the credit crunch behind. The statistics also debunk predictions that fewer cars will be sold this year because of soaring petrol prices and widespread eco-awareness after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the uprising in oil-producing countries in North Africa and Japan’s nuclear disaster.The volume of diesel sales rose by 2.8 per cent in Austria last year compared to 2009, while 1.1 per cent less regular car petrol was sold at the same time.Strong price hikes of car fuel have been identified as the main cause for a soaring inflation rate. The average price for one litre of regular car fuel increased by 22 per cent from February 2010 to the same month of this year.Polls have shown that a majority of drivers believe that mineral oil industry companies and petrol station businesspeople have been engaged in price fixing, while car clubs appealed to political decision-makers to introduce measures which will keep the prices from climbing further.However, the VCÖ and other organisations campaigning for environmentally friendly means of individual transport have emphasised that, despite the recent price jumps, car fuel costs less in Austria than in all seven states the country is bordering and most European nations.