Aug 17, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
From our 3700+ CalCars-News subscribers to the overwhelming response people have to PHEVs everywhere CalCars goes, we've long known there's a sizable market for plug-in hybrids. But it doesn't hurt to add further evidence to the pile: a recent survey by market research company Synovate shows that 49% of car-buyers -- once the concept was explained to them -- would consider a plug-in hybrid, the same number that would consider a conventional hybrid car.
Synovate called the PHEV response the "biggest surprise" of the survey, with study lead Tim Englehart noting that, while the additional purchase cost of a PHEV is the great unknown, "We believe it's something to watch."
Synovate also highlights disappointment among consumers in the 25% fuel economy loss of ethanol (vs. gasoline), but doesn't consider it enough a detraction to deter flex-fuel purchases -- of course, flex-fuel vehicles cost little more than their non-flex-fuel counterparts, and consumers often have little choice between the two.
A note before posting the full Synovate release: Certainly there's a difference between expressing a desire to purchase a PHEV and actually doing so. We believe that in addition to the quicker return on investment from ever higher gas prices, the increasing fervor over global warming and foreign oil dependence make the "environmental" and "national security" features of PHEVs that much more appealing to consumers. As a result, actual purchase rates will fairly accurately mirror stated desires.
16 August 2006
DETROIT - A new study by global market research company Synovate shows that 37% of US consumers would consider purchasing a Flex Fuel vehicle that runs on gasoline or E85 (85% Ethanol) the next time they are in the market to buy a car. However, more than a third of these same consumers lose interest in E85 Flex Fuel vehicles when they learn that there is a reduction in fuel economy.
This information came from Synovate's latest semi-annual survey of consumer attitudes toward advanced propulsion and alternative fuel vehicles.
"It certainly appears as if consumers have bought into the appeal of a Flex Fuel vehicle that can run on either gasoline or E85," explained Scott Miller, CEO of Synovate Motoresearch. "However, consumers also are largely unaware that they will experience a 25% loss in fuel economy when the vehicle is running on Ethanol. While we really don't expect this reality to impact sales of Flex Fuel vehicles, it will generate disappointment among enthusiastic buyers. It also means that E85 will have to retain a substantially lower price per gallon over gasoline for it to have any impact on consumption."
The study, conducted among 1,240 buyers and those intending to buy new light duty cars and trucks, also found that while awareness of hybrids is now very high among US consumers, consideration of a hybrid vehicle has flattened at just under 50%.
The biggest surprise in the study was the high consideration of grid-connected or "plug-in" hybrids. Familiarity with the technology is currently low but, after hearing an explanation of a grid-connected hybrid, 49% of consumers said they would consider purchasing one, roughly the same level of consideration as standard hybrid technology.
Grid-connected hybrids offer some unique advantages to consumers. According to Tim Englehart, Manager of Alternative Fuels Studies at Synovate Motoresearch, "Plugging the vehicle in at home means fewer trips to the gas station and lower operating costs. The unknown with this technology is the additional purchase cost. However, there is a considerable group of consumers who are willing to pay to get these unique benefits. It would also be an excellent way to transfer some of the country's dependence on oil to the national resources we use to power the electric power grid. We believe it's something to watch."
Diesel technology is a hot topic in the US and another focus of the Synovate study. Consideration among US consumers remains low at roughly half the consideration of hybrids. However, Miller says the numbers can be misleading. "The story around diesels is not the percent of US consumers who will consider it, just those who are very interested. Our data give us strong reason to believe that if manufacturers can meet the emissions requirements of the new diesel legislation, some are going to surprise the market with the products they introduce and the buyers to whom those vehicles appeal."