JD Power releases inaugural Automotive Environmental Index

With the automotive climate drastically changing, so must our surveys for market data. New for this year, in their 2006 Alternative Powertrain Study (APS), JD Power and Associates released the results of their first Automotive Environmental Index (AEI). The AEI is comprised of EPA information combined with "voice-of-the-customer" data relating to fuel economy, air pollution and green house gases.
Included in the top 30 AEI vehicles are 8 hybrids, yet no diesels. Volkswagen led the pack in nameplate rankings followed by Honda, Mazda, Saturn and Kia to round out the top 5. The entire list of the AEI top 30 vehicles as well as AEI nameplate rankings can be found at JD Power and Associates' website.

The study also examines American perceptions of vehicles with alternative powertrains. They state that just 23 percent of consumers say they will consider only gasoline power for their next new vehicle. 57 percent are considering hybrids; 49 percent will consider E85; and just 12 percent for diesels. The 16 to 25 age range (who purchase less than 10 percent of all new vehicles) is much more likely to consider an alternative-powered vehicle. About 75 percent would consider a hybrid; 52 percent will consider E85; and 15 percent for diesels. In contrast, among those who are 57 or older only half would consider a hybrid or flex-fuel vehicle and only 8 percent would consider a diesel.

According to the study, consumer expectations for alternative-fuel vehicles tend to be unrealistic. Those considering a hybrid expect to pay a premium of more than $5,000 and hope to achieve 28 more miles for every gallon of gasoline. The actual mileage improvement is closer to 9 mpg. The shortcomings of expectations aren't quite as drastic for diesel consumers who believe they will pay $2,800 more than a gas-powered car and derive 21 miles more for each gallon, but in actuality receive an increase of about 12 mpg.

In 2005, hybrid vehicles made up 1.2 percent of the U.S. market while diesels stood at 3.2 percent. JD power's study expects those numbers to grow to 1.6 percent for hybrids and 3.6 percent for diesels in 2006 while in 2013, they forecast hybrids to represent 5 percent of the market and diesels to rise to 9 percent.

[Source: JD Power and Associates]

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