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 |  Apr 27 2011, 8:35 AM

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.