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Consumer Interest in Alternative Fuel Cars Highest Ever

Posted on February 10, 2009
Filed Under Future Speculation, General News, Research | Leave a Comment

green-carWhile economic difficulties plague the
automotive industry, consumers are poised for the next wave in automotive
technological advancements — alternative fuel sources. Results from the
recent New Vehicle Customer Study, conducted by Maritz Research’s Automotive
Research Group, show the growing interest of consumers in these new products.

Electric Power Gaining Popularity

The Automotive Research Group of Maritz Research has been tracking
interest in alternative fuels in its annual New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS)
since 2005, and the data show electric power growing as a primary alternative
fuel among the current choices. Approximately 9 percent of consumers, who
bought or leased a new vehicle in 2008, judge the electric-powered vehicle as
the alternative fuel that was most appealing. The appeal share for electric
vehicles has grown in the past three years from 3.4 percent in 2006, to 6.6
percent in 2007, and now 9.4 percent. Interest is higher among those who
purchased or leased a car, as opposed to a light truck, in the last three
years.

Appeal for electric vehicles stood at 4 percent in 2006, climbed to 8
percent in 2007, and currently is almost 11 percent among new car buyers and
lessees. The car share of the vehicle market has grown since 2006 and is now
over 50 percent of new sales. Light trucks formerly dominated vehicle sales.
According to Jim Mulcrone, senior manager for Maritz’ automotive research
group, “With automakers struggling and renewed emphasis on reducing oil
dependence, consumers are eager for innovation. Adding electric and other
alternatively fueled models may help spur new growth in automotive spending.”

Consumers ranked electric-powered vehicles third among current options
such as diesel, hybrid, and seven other choices in a question that asks
consumers to pick one.

Solar power has remained flat in the 4-5 percent range; methane,
propane/LPG, and biodiesel have the least interest at 2 percent or less.
Interest in gas blends and diesel has ebbed over the four years of the study
with gas blends currently at 5 percent and diesel at 3 percent.

Conversely, appeal of hybrid and fuel cell vehicles is rising, with
hybrids up from 18 percent in 2006 to 24 percent in 2008, and fuel cells up
from 11 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2008. “This is likely due to the
wide press coverage of these alternative drivetrains over the last few years,”
Mulcrone said.

Fuel Uncertainty Shrinking

NVCS also shows that in 2008 approximately one quarter (26 percent) of
consumers still do not know which alternative fuel is most appealing.
However, the proportion of these “drivetrain undecideds” is shrinking, down
from 31 percent in 2006, indicating consumer opinions about alternative fuels
are coalescing. A small, but stable, share of 3-4 percent report none of the
ten alternative fuels in the questionnaire are appealing.

Maritz Research has conducted the NVCS as a syndicated tracking study in
the United States for over 30 years. Since its inception, the objective of
the NVCS has been to provide current, comprehensive marketing data covering
every vehicle line sold or leased in the marketplace. Sample sizes annually
are 115,000 or more. The 2008 data includes buyers in the first 9 months of
the model year, currently over 88,000 records. NVCS is sampled at the model
level and focused on retail (household) sales with a target of 450 responses
per model.

Source: The Earth Times

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