Green Car Buyers Motivated by Fuel Savings, Not the Environment Says J.D. Power Survey

Green Car Buyers Motivated by Fuel Savings, Not the Environment Says J.D. Power Survey

Based on the high price of hybrid and electric vehicles, not to mention how long it takes to recoup the added cost through fuel savings (if ever), the number one reason to purchase one should be environmental concerns. The opposite appears to be true for the majority of green car buyers, 75 percent of whom say fuel savings is the number one reason they would consider an “alternative powertrain” model.

This statistic comes from the first annual J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study, which looks at consumer interest and reaction to hybrid electric vehicles, clean diesel models, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles. In the survey  total of 75 percent of those polled listed lower fuel costs as a main factor in buying a hybrid, compared to 50 percent who listed “better for the environment.”

Of note, consumers who said they are not looking to switch to an alternative powertrain vehicle cited price, increased maintenance cost and range anxiety.

“Alternative powertrains face an array of challenges as they attempt to gain widespread acceptance in the market,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “It is the financial issues that most often resonate with consumers, whether it is the higher price of the vehicle itself, the cost to fuel or charge the vehicle, or the fear of higher maintenance costs. The bottom line is that most consumers want to be green, but not if there is a significant personal cost to them.” In addition VanNieuwkuyk says that for alternative powertrains to succeed they need to be economically sustainable.

Yet despite increased interest in alternative powertrain vehicles, overall sales continue to be slow and according to J.D. Power, hybrid and electric vehicles are expected to make up less than 10 percent of the U.S. market though 2016.

  • Doug Marker

    The typical electric car article makes a statement like “overall sales continue to be slow” which give the impression that no one will buy them. That may not be true. Every time any manufacturer has presented an electric car in the $30k range they have been sold immediately. We won’t know how fast they will sell until they are available.

  • Ray

    With the current state of the economy, it’s understandable that your average person will care more for fuel savings over the environment.

    Right now going green with buying a vehicle such as the Volt for example isn’t the idea choice for some people. The Volt is going for around $40 000. Meanwhile you can get a base model Chevrolet Cruze for more than 1/2 that price and get amazing fuel economy.

    Until “green” vehicles are much more affordable, we can then expect people to keep the environment in mind when buying a new vehicle.

  • Ray

    ideal choice*

  • Tim Plunk

    Going green is happening all around us and I think you hit it on the head about the cost of buying a electric car. People will buy what they can afford and once the electric car becomes affordable I think it will gain wide acceptance. the big advantage no one has talked about is the cost of repairs. No censors to go bad, no oil leaks, no fuel problems and no shop guessing whats wrong. Plug it in, change the part Cleanly and drive off. Repair shops with crap everywhere will be a thing of the past.And less gas stations. Plug your car in at night and off you go. If you have lunch or going to be doing a little shopping….plug it in and when you return your on your way again. Most electric cars coming on the market will go 150 miles before needing a charge and that will only increase with time. Gas cars will always be around but I think big changes are coming. The fat and happy oil company’s are going to always be profitable but on a smaller platform.