In Europe, fuel efficiency is the primary concern

While fuel economy is a concern for fewer Europeans buying a new car this year than last year (only 39 percent, down from 41), how much fuel goes into the car is nonetheless the top consideration on the continent (and the UK). Harris Interactive's AutoTECHCAST released these results this week based on an online study conducted between September 22 and December 4, 2006 among 16,842 adults that owned or were leasing a car.

Considering Europe's high fuel prices, it's not surprising that fuel economy is in the forefront. Americans were rattled by $3-a-gallon prices last year. In Europe, $4-$6 is an average price for a gallon. Can you imagine how much us Yanks would care about MPG if our gas prices were two or three times higher than they are now? Neither can I.

Just how high fuel economy ranked on the scale varied by country, with Spanish adults having enhanced-fuel economy on the brain the most (63 percent), followed by the Italians and Germans (45 percent and 36 percent respectively). You can see the full details (and we mean details) after the jump.

The survey also asked about fuel cells (28 percent said they'd be very or extremely likely to "include fuel cell technology on their next vehicle purchase." Of course, the number drops (to 22 percent) when the subjects learned how much these cars would cost.

Oh, and which technological came in second to fuel economy in Europeans' mind? High-performance halogen and xenon lighting, with 35 percent. So there you have it. I'll look for a fuel-miser with xenon lights at the top of the sales lists come the end of the year.

[Source: Harris Interactive]
Harris Interactive's AutoTECHCAST(SM) Europe Study Reports: Enhanced Fuel Economy Remains Top Priority for European Vehicle Owners

High fuel prices continue to influence European vehicle owner technology preferences

LONDON and DETROIT, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- For the second year in a row, the Harris Interactive AutoTECHCAST(SM) Europe study indicates that vehicle owners(1) in five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) have chosen enhanced fuel economy as the top automotive technology that they are very or extremely likely to purchase for their next new vehicle (39% compared to 41% last year). "Within this European market, vehicle fuel economy remains the primary driver of consumer vehicle purchase consideration. Increasing petrol and diesel prices caused by fluctuations in market supply and political instability in major oil producing countries is a major concern to European vehicle owners," said Scott D. Upham, Senior Vice President, Automotive Research, Harris Interactive.

Spanish adults show the highest likelihood of choosing enhanced-fuel economy as the top automotive technology that they are very or extremely likely to purchase for their next new vehicle (63%), followed by Italian and German respondents (45% and 36% respectively). "The current volume of diesel vehicles already in the European market and their inherent higher fuel economy has a direct impact on consumers' lack of interest in gasoline-based hybrid technologies that are increasing in popularity in the United States. Consumers are more likely to consider fuel cell-based vehicles rather than hybrid powertrains," said Upham.

Fuel Cell Technology Gaining Consideration among European Consumers

Nearly three out of 10 European vehicle owners (28%) indicate they are "very likely" or "extremely likely" to include fuel cell technology on their next vehicle purchase. However, consideration falls substantially (22%) once the market price is introduced. "As fuel cell technology evolves and production efficiencies drive prices to lower levels, there will be strong demand in the European market," said Upham.

European Consumer's Vehicle Preference Characteristics Differ Greatly from Country to Country

AutoTECHCAST Europe reports that considerable differences exist between consumers from different European countries -- including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom -- on key vehicle attributes, including:

-- British consumers value vehicle reliability and dependability and fuel economy
-- French and Spanish consumers value a vehicle's engine type
-- Spanish consumers value quality of workmanship and construction and body size
-- British and French consumers value the manufacturer's reputation
-- German consumers value the vehicle's value for the money
-- Italian consumers value the vehicle's exterior styling and appearance

Note: Only Top-10 European responses shown.

European Consumer's Top Technology Preferences

Among other emerging automotive technologies registering measurable success when it comes to initial consideration in the AutoTECHAST Europe study, include:

-- High-performance halogen & xenon lighting
-- Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting
-- Park assist & object detection
-- Rain sensor & automatic wipers
-- Intelligent navigation systems

"Globally, halogen and xenon lighting and intelligent navigation systems technologies are achieving high levels of acceptance with consumers due to their high-performance features and declining market prices," said Upham. "These advanced lighting systems provide increased visibility, clarity and improve driving performance and accident avoidance. In high traffic metropolitan areas like Paris, London, Madrid, Rome and Frankfurt, intelligent navigation systems and park assist and object detection technologies are in high demand. Consumers are becoming more technology savvy and these advanced technologies can save considerable time and reduce vehicle damage associated with parking in densely populated cities," said Upham.

Option Pricing Significantly Affects European Consumer's Technology Preferences

AutoTECHCAST Europe reports that purchase consideration is greatly affected by the market price for particular options and technologies. Consumers show a high degree of interest in several safety-related technologies including occupant sensing, inflatable seatbelts, rain sensors and wipers. "Consumers repeatedly report safety technologies as key differentiators when it comes to choosing particular vehicles or options packages. Protecting their families with advanced emerging safety technologies are products that European consumers are willing to pay for," said Upham.

-- Spanish and Italian vehicle owners report strong interest in occupant sensing systems and inflatable seatbelts.
-- Spanish consumers are more interested in advanced air conditioning systems than consumers in Italy, France, Germany and United Kingdom.

AutoTECHCAST Europe Methodology

Harris Interactive conducted this online survey in, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom between September 22 and December 4, 2006 among a total of 16,842 adults aged 18 and over. Qualified respondents had to own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver's license, have at least one household vehicle and own a listed European model dated 1998 or newer. Figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also applied to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order, deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used) and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite "margin of error" for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided. With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 16,842 vehicle-owning adults one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-1 percentage point. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

More information on this study can be found at:

About the Harris Interactive Automotive & Transportation Research (ATR) Practice

Based in Rochester, New York and Detroit, Michigan, the Harris Interactive ATR Practice provides insightful market research and analyses to OEM vehicle manufacturers, Tier 1-2-3 suppliers and automotive distribution firms. With access to millions of consumers and businesses around the world, Harris Interactive provides comprehensive, accurate market intelligence through multi-client and proprietary research that addresses clients' new product development, consumer and market segmentation, brand & customer loyalty, marketing & communications effectiveness, and strategic planning needs.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world's largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe and Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris in France and through a global network of independent market research firms. The service bureau, HISB, provides its market research industry clients with mixed-mode data collection, panel development services as well as syndicated and tracking research consultation. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at

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(1) Qualified respondents had to own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver's license, have at least one household vehicle and own a listed European model dated 1998 or newer.

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