There's a good chance anyone reading this is in the minority. At least, a minority according to a new study by Harris Interactive, which says that most Americans are not willing to pay extra money for clean vehicle technology. The only "winners" in the study, such as they are, are the cheaper, easy-to-add eco boosters like start-stop technology and "eco drive assistants" (i.e., lights on the dashboard that help drivers save fuel). These are the technologies that Harris found Americans are most willing to buy, which Harris frames as buying "lower cost technological solutions over higher priced alternative fuels."

It doesn't look like Harris Interactive figured in how possible gas price increases would affect these numbers, but did say the study was conducted in April and asked 12,225 U.S. adults who own or lease a vehicle (more details on the participants after the jump). There's also a chart after the jump that shows what Harris told the participants each technology would add to the price of a car (highlights: a fuel cell would add $5,000 and a pure electric drivetrain would be $4,000 more) and how many people said they'd pay that amount the next time they buy a car. Basically, anything that makes a huge dent in gasoline consumption didn't get a lot of love. The respondents who said they were "likely," "very likely" or "extremely likely" to buy a fuel cell or all-electric car today stood at four and two percent, respectively. See the full results after the jump.

[Source: Harris Interactive | Image: josh.liba - C.C. License 2.0]

PRESS RELEASE

Americans Choose Gas over Alternatives

Owners choose lower cost technological solutions over higher priced alternative fuels

NEW YORK, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- According to Harris Interactive's 2010 AutoTECHCAST study, conducted between April 6, 2010 - April 26, 2010, there is greater demand for technologies that provide enhanced fuel economy of existing gasoline driven engines at a lower initial cost, than higher priced alternate fueled engines. One in five Americans(1) indicate they would be extremely or very likely to purchase a start stop system (21 percent) or an ECO drive assistant (19 percent). Both of these systems provide an estimated 10 percent gain in fuel economy. Barely one in six owners say they are extremely or very likely to purchase flexible fuel engines (16 percent) or a clean diesel engine (14 percent).

David Duganne, Sr. Research Director of Harris Interactive Automotive and Transportation Research states "Consideration for clean diesel engines has been consistent over the past several years of the study, while that of flexible fuel engines has decreased. With the current push of clean diesel by European automakers, we anticipate this will start to increase while consideration for flexible fuel will continue to decrease, especially as other alternative fueled engines continue to come to market."

Even less interest exists for purchasing the newer, more costly and/or fully developed fuel efficient engines. Only one out of 25 vehicle owners are extremely or very likely to consider purchasing fuel cell engines (4 percent), hybrid-electric engines (4 percent), plug-in hybrids (4 percent) and pure electric engines (2 percent). A comparative bright spot is a 10% level of consideration of compressed natural gas engines.

The interest in technology-driven approaches using traditional gas engines is growing. ECO drive assistant doubled its level of consideration from the 2009 study (19 percent in 2010, up from 11 percent in 2009).

While price is certainly a factor for adoption of these newer engine technologies, other barriers also exist. The price of the fuel (where applicable), the lack of an infrastructure for refueling or recharging, concerns about service and repair of the vehicles and in the case of the electric vehicles, how long the charge will last in respect to one's daily commute are all detrimental to consumer acceptance.

David Pulaski, Vice President of Harris Interactive Automotive and Transportation Research states "Although there are some significant entry barriers, we believe that as consumers become more familiar with alternative fuel approaches, and gasoline costs rise, demand will grow. To raise mass market appeal automakers and government agencies must educate consumers on the benefits they offer, while reducing infrastructure issues. Education must not only address what is being done, but connect with the emotional elements of the concerns. At some point technologies that nip away at enhanced fuel economy aren't going to provide automakers with the gains needed to keep up with industry requirements."

The new Harris Interactive 2010 AutoTECHCAST study, an annual survey of adult vehicle owners in the United States includes start stop system", "ECO drive assistant", "clean diesel engine", "flexible fuel vehicle", "compressed natural gas engine", "fuel cell engine", "plug-in hybrid engine", "pure electric engine" as well as 61 other unique technologies spanning across several categories that include: Entertainment, Exterior Comfort & Convenience, Glass, Intelligent Sensing, Interior Comfort & Convenience, Lighting, Powertrain & Alternative Fuels, Ride & Handling, Safety, and Telematics.

(1) Survey of 12,225 U.S. adults ages 18 and over and who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver's license, have at least one household vehicle, own a listed North American model - 2005 or newer, and are at least 50 percent involved in the decision to buy their next household vehicle.

Other Key Findings

The study also finds that there is increasing consideration for voice activated technologies that allow drivers to interact with their audio, navigation or telematics systems while helping them stay focused on the road. Additionally, technologies that provide the ability to customize a vehicle, such as the instrument panel or interior lighting color, have lower levels of consideration and exhibit more niche than mass market appeal.

TABLE 1

LIKELIHOOD TO PURCHASE ALTERNATIVE FUEL TECHNOLOGIES

"How likely would you be to purchase this technology if it added
[INSERT PRICE] to the total cost of your vehicle?"

Base: Adults who evaluated each technology

Clean Diesel Engine

Compressed Natural Gas Engine

ECO Drive Assistant

Flexible Fuel Vehicle

Fuel Cell Engine

Hybrid Electric Engine

Plug-In Hybrid Engine

Pure Electric Engine

Start Stop System

Price

$1000

$1000

$250

$250

$5000

$3500

$4000

$4000

$500

Base

997

981

984

986

986

998

978

983

995

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

TOP 2 BOX (NET)

14

10

19

16

4

4

4

2

21

Extremely Likely

4

4

8

5

2

1

2

1

10

Very Likely

10

6

11

11

2

3

3

2

10

Likely

15

12

14

18

5

13

6

5

12

BOTTOM 2 Box (NET)

70

78

67

67

91

83

91

93

67

Somewhat Likely

25

25

29

27

23

29

21

18

27

Not At All Likely

45

53

38

40

68

54

70

75

40



(Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding).

Methodology

The AutoTECHCAST study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between April 6, 2010 - April 26, 2010 among 12,225 U.S. adults ages 18 and over and who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver's license, have at least one household vehicle, own a listed North American model - 2005 or newer, and are at least 50 percent involved in the decision to buy their next household vehicle. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, region and income and to properly represent U.S. vehicle segment owners. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Full data tables and methodology are available at www.harrisinteractive.com

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris Interactive specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com
.

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