Consumers look at alternative fuels and vehicles the same way that they look at
traditional fuels: economics drives the purchasing decision.
Consumers say that they consider fuel economy and the cost of the vehicle far
more important than any other attribute when purchasing a new vehicle, according
the results of a national consumer poll released by the Fuels Institute, a
non-partisan think tank dedicated to evaluating the market issues related to
consumer vehicles and the fuels that power them.
More than 8 in 10 consumers say that economic factors such as fuel economy
(83%) and vehicle cost (81%) are influential to their vehicle purchasing
decision. Safety features were a distant third (51%) followed by fuel or engine
type (48%), according to the survey of 2,007 gas consumers conducted by Penn,
Schoen and Berland Associates LLC.
"The successful fuel and vehicle technology will be decided by the consumer,"
said Fuels Institute Executive Director John Eichberger. "Understanding these
preferences is critical for forecasting what the future of personal
transportation will look like and for deciding which technologies and fuels
should be brought to market."
Consumers say that they are open to new alternative vehicles. Nearly 4 in 10
(39%) say that they would consider a non-gasoline vehicle, compared to 30% who
say that they would not.
Hybrid vehicles are most appealing to those considering a new car purchase in
the next three years, with 85% saying that they would consider a hybrid vehicle,
which combines electric power with traditional gasoline power. Other alternative
vehicles were also of some interest to consumers, including electric (55%), flex
fuel (52%), diesel fuel (30%), or other fuels including propane or natural gas
"The results of this national survey provide a clearer understanding
of the relative importance of economic considerations made at the pump and in
the showroom. However, while economics may influence purchasing decisions within
a specific class of vehicle, they may not necessarily change consumer
preferences for a specific class of vehicle," added Eichberger.
The survey results are featured in the new White Paper, "Consumers and
Alternative Fuels: Economics Are Top of Mind," which is available for download
at www.fuelsinstitute.org. The Institute will be publishing three
additional reports in September that more closely examine consumer perceptions
about non-gasoline vehicle alternatives.