Saturday, May 19, 2007

Consumers Want Plug-in Hybrids, Industry Survey Finds

Synovate Motoresearch presented some very interesting survey results at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Long Beach, CA last week, as reported in MIT's Technology Review. Simply put, as the first sentence of the article states,
[W]hen consumers understand what plug-in hybrids are, they want them.
All that's needed, the survey discovered, is a dollop of education.
Of the more than 3,000 consumers asked if they would consider buying a "grid-connected hybrid," the term used for plug-in hybrids in the survey, only 24 percent said that they would, according to the survey by Synovate Motoresearch. But when they were told what such a car could do, that figure nearly tripled, to 64 percent. That's well above the percentage of people who would consider buying an ordinary hybrid, like the Toyota Prius, which doesn't have extended battery-powered range.....The results suggest that consumers like the idea of the plug-in hybrid--but that so far, car companies are doing a lousy job of getting the word out.
Wonder why? The answer is contained in another part of the survey. Motoresearch also surveyed attitudes toward flex-fuel vehicles, heavily promoted by the automakers.
These cars, which can burn either gasoline or a mixture of 85 percent ethanol, scored high on the desirability charts--that is, until consumers were told more about them...consumers thought that flex-fuel improved fuel economy, Miller said. Actually, the opposite is true. Ethanol contains much less energy than gasoline does, so miles per gallon will be significantly lower, as will range on a tank of gas. When consumers were told this, the percentage of people who would consider buying the cars dropped from 52 to 33 percent.

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