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And they don’t know much more about hybrids, either. A study by London-based market research firm Synovate found that new vehicle buyers hardly knew that hybrids contained batteries, used gasoline, or couldn’t be plugged in.
Only two-thirds of people surveyed knew that hybrids used both battery and gasoline power (hence the “hybrid” name), and only one-third knew that hybrids could run on the electric motor by itself.
It gets more distressing. Those surveyed about plug-in hybrids didn’t know that they still required gasoline. Less than half knew that plug-ins, like their regular hybrid brethren, could also run in electric-only mode.
The survey was conducted from Oct. 22 and Nov. 2 of last year, among 1,898 Americans who were about to buy a new car or intended to do so. Synovate concluded from these results that a lack of buyer knowledge could affect vehicle sales, before going on to prove the aqueous qualities of dihydrogen monoxide.
“This low level of understanding about the way in which electric powertrain vehicles work will have profound consequences for vehicle sales,” said Stephen Popiel, senior vice president of Synovate Motoresearch. “In the short term, dealers will have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining the workings of PHEVs and BEVs to interested buyers. We have to wonder if consumers will become disillusioned when they understand the actual requirements of electric vehicles.”
Ultimately, “whose job is it to educate consumers about these powertrains?” Popiel asked. Is it the manufacturer’s responsibility? The media’s? Or even the government’s? Synovate didn’t suggest anything. Either way, “long-term success of the electrification of the fleet will only come about with a better-educated consumer,” said Popiel.
Certainly, shelling out for the second most-expensive consumer purchase in one’s lifetime merits even basic knowledge of its functions. You may not have to read the owner’s manual cover to cover (unless you’re a nerd), but if you don’t remember to put gasoline in your hybrid, then it’s back to the drawing board.
Canadians are more likely to go electric when buying a new car compared to Americans, says research from a new study.
Conducted by Synovate, a global market research firm, the company polled 1,800 new car buyers in the U.S. and 800 new car buyers in Canada. The study dealt with current petroleum based power-trains (internal combustion, diesel, flex-fuel, natural gas) and electric power trains (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery and fuel cell).
In the study, Synovate asked respondents about what type of engine they would like in their future vehicle. They found that Americans had a stronger preference for internal combustion engines (61 percent) than Canadians (53 percent). When it came to a hybrid engine, the neighbors tied with 64 percent stating their preference.
But when it came to other electric technologies such as plug-in hybrids, Canadian respondents came out with a stronger preference (34 percent) than Americans (27 percent). The results were similar when it came to pure battery electric vehicles as well (29 percent Canadians versus 24 percent Americans).
According to Stephen Popiel, senior vice president of Synovate Motoresearch, “Canadians clearly want “greener”, more environmentally friendly vehicles. We seem to be more driven than Americans on reducing emissions while they are more concerned about fuel costs.” Reaffirming their green ways, Canadian respondents were more likely to be looking for ways to reduce their CO2 levels (28 percent) than American respondents (23 percent). The American respondents were more likely to be looking for ways to minimize fuel costs (64 percent Americans versus 58 percent Canadians).
On the subject of Flex Fuel, Canadian respondents did not see E85, the blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, as an option. The Canadians surveyed were much less familiar with E85 (16 percent familiarity in Canada versus 26 percent in the USA) and have a weaker preference for E85 (21 percent in Canada versus 31 percent in the US).