Consumers love hybrids, just not the price

According to a survey by J. D. Power, three out of four potential car buyers are interested in hybrid technology for their next vehicle. However, they didn't like the technology that much. When they learned about its cost. up to a $5,000 premium, depending on model, interest dropped down to 46 percent. Hybrid powertrains were considered the 5th most interesting technology when prices was not mentioned. With a price tag atached, the fuel-saving feature droped down to the 8th position. And what about diesels? They didn't garner much interest in either case. According to J. D. Power, this might be because the technology is not yet widely available stateside and because most people still think diesel equals a dirty and noisy car. Full press release after the jump.
Press Release:

Undeterred by Price Premiums, Consumers Show High Interest in Hybrid-Electric Automotive Powertrain Technology

Hybrid-electric powertrain technology in vehicles garners particularly high interest among consumers both before and after the average market price ($5,000) is revealed, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies StudySM released today.

The study is designed to measure consumer familiarity, interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies both before and after an estimated market value is revealed.

The study finds that before the market price is revealed, 72 percent of consumers say they are "definitely/probably" interested in having hybrid-electric technology in their next new vehicle. This marks a considerable increase from the 2005 study, when 58 percent of consumers reported they were "definitely/probably" interested in the technology. Additionally, after the average price point of $5,000 is revealed, consumer interest remains relatively high at 46 percent in 2008.

"High consumer interest in hybrid-electric powertrain technology may be reflective of not only rising gas prices but also a heightened effort among consumers to be more environmentally conscious," said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates.

"Clean diesel technology, however, garners relatively low interest in comparison. One explanation for this may derive from a lack of education with the technology. Many consumers cannot differentiate between clean diesel and traditional diesel fuel--which in the past had a negative connotation with unpleasant vehicle emissions. As consumers become more educated in the benefits of clean diesel through increased product offers launching later this year, interest in the technology may increase."

Prior to revealing the average market price, the study also finds that consumer interest is highest for blind spot detection (76%); backup assist (74%); and navigation systems (73%) before the average market price is revealed. After revealing the average market price, interest is highest in backup assist (68%); active cornering headlight systems (65%); and wireless connectivity systems (53%).

"Wireless connectivity, in particular, makes a considerable jump in the rankings after the average price point of $200 is revealed," said Marshall. "Consumer interest is likely heightened by the fact that more states may prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. Wireless connectivity will potentially become a necessity rather than a luxury as time goes on."

The study also finds the following key patterns:

Among consumers who indicate that they are not interested in a rear-seat entertainment system, more than 30 percent indicate such because they do not transport passengers in their rear seats on a regular basis.

Among consumers who say they are not interested in a collision mitigation system--which is an automated safety system that monitors external conditions around the vehicle and warns the driver using visual, physical and audible cues of a potential collision before automatically applying the braking system, tightening seat belts and moving the driver's seat into the optimal crash position--one of four say they either do not want to give up control of the vehicle, or that they are waiting for the technology to improve before purchasing it.

The 2008 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from more than 19,000 U.S. consumers. The study was fielded in April 2008. The J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Alternative Powertrain Study,SM which examines the reasons why consumers consider or avoid alternative powertrain vehicles, will be released on July 11.

[Source: J. D. Power]

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