We Americans want hybrid leadership. We want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Trouble is, most of us aren't willing to pay for it. Johnson Controls surveyed 2,309 adults on all matters hybrid, and it found that 84% of Americans believe the government should support the advancement of hybrid technology and fully 88% believe hybrid leadership is crucial to America's future. But the devil is in the details, and few things bring out the worst in people more than money.

The survey asked whether car buyers would expect to pay more, less, or about the same amount as a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. 23% of the adults surveyed said they were willing to pay more for a hybrid, while 35% would only purchase a car with battery assistance if it cost the same as a comparable non-hybrid. 33% actually think they should pay less for a hybrid than a conventional vehicle. And the other 11%? They wouldn't purchase a hybrid at any price. Click through to the jump for more on the study and to read the official press release.

[Source: Johnson Controls]

Beyond price issues, survey-takers were also concerned with size and performance. 49% are hesitant to purchase a vehicle at the expense of power and functionality. 47% of those surveyed feel that a lack of hybrid understanding prevents additional sales, and 59% don't understand the difference between various kinds of hybrids.

While most Americans appear to have limited hybrid knowledge and even less desire to pay for the technology, we're at least practical. While 90% of survey respondents are open to a hybrid purchase, 80% say that the cost of hybrids prevents them from buying one. At least automakers know that if they could only create a big, cheap hybrid with plenty of power that costs less than a Chevrolet Aveo, they'll have a hit on their hands.


Nine out of 10 consumers open to purchasing hybrid as next vehicle

MILWAUKEE, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) survey, conducted by Harris Interactive(R), reveals that more than four in five U.S. adults believe the United States must become a leader in hybrid vehicles (88%), and that the government should support the advancement of battery technology in this country (84%).

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Johnson Controls commissioned the survey, "Powering the United States Hybrid Vehicle Industry," to understand consumer sentiment regarding hybrid vehicles and to gain insight into the challenges and opportunities for broad market acceptance in the United States. The online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted in March 2009, finds that the biggest reasons why U.S. adults think it is important that America become a leader in hybrid technology are to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil (81%), create jobs (67%), and reduce the U.S. impact on the environment (64%).

In fact, 90 percent of U.S. adults are open to choosing a hybrid if they were in the market for a new vehicle. However, they also perceive major obstacles to such a purchase today, most notably cost concerns: Four in five adults (80%) think financial barriers such as purchase price and/or insufficient cost savings prevent people from buying a hybrid car. At the same time, most see incentives and tax credits as an effective way to encourage consumers to purchase hybrid cars (84%). Among adults who do not already own a hybrid, more than one in three (35%) would buy a comparable hybrid vehicle as long as it was priced the same as the gasoline-powered equivalent, and more than one in five (23%) would be willing to pay more. However, one-third would expect to pay less.

"The survey makes one message abundantly clear: despite recognizing the importance of hybrid technology and the role of government support, consumers need costs to come down for the hybrid industry to thrive," said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for Johnson Controls. "The survey also suggests a need for consumer education, because most people admit they don't really grasp how hybrids work or understand the differences between the types of hybrid applications that are available," she added.

In addition to cost barriers, many consumers may also think hybrid vehicle performance should be equivalent or better than that of a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. When asked what might prevent people from buying a hybrid car, 49 percent of adults cite reluctance to sacrifice features such as size and horsepower, and 42 percent express concerns that hybrids might mean inferior performance, lack of speed, or a poor driving experience. Further, nearly half (47%) believe lack of understanding about hybrids in general prevents people from buying them, and an even greater number (59%) have no idea what the distinctions are between different types of hybrids.

"That U.S. consumers are open to the idea of purchasing a hybrid bodes well for the development of a U.S. hybrid industry," said Alex Molinaroli, President, Power Solutions, for Johnson Controls. "However, it's evident that success in building the industry will depend on making it easier for consumers to buy hybrids. We're doing good things in the United States to stimulate the industry, but in the long run, it will be broad market acceptance and scale that makes it sustainable."

Survey Methodology

The Johnson Controls survey, "Powering the U.S. Hybrid Vehicle Industry," was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between March 9 and March 11, 2009 among 2,309 adults ages 18 and older, of whom, 35 (2%) already own a hybrid car. Results were weighted as needed to reflect the composition of the U.S. population of adults ages 18+ using targets for region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For further details, please contact Rebecca Fitzgerald, Johnson Controls, at Rebecca.K.Fitzgerald@jci.com.

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