Three Quarters Of Americans Say They Would Consider An ‘Alternative’ Vehicle

Gas prices may have dipped in the weeks leading up to the Memorial Day weekend, but consumers are still responding to high gas prices.

According to a new poll from Consumer Reports, 37 percent of Americans say that fuel economy is their top consideration when looking for a new car. That makes efficiency the most important factor for consumers by far.

The next closest consideration was safety, which was ranked as a top priority by 17 percent of Americans.

The poll also showed that nearly three quarters of respondents were open to considering new types personal transportation like electric vehicles:

The survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, found that car owners were open to different ways of saving at the pump, from downsizing to looking at hybrids, electric cars, or models with diesel engines. In all, nearly three quarters (73 percent) of participants said they would consider some type of alternatively fueled vehicle, with flex-fuel (which can run on E85 ethanol) and hybrid models leading the way. Younger buyers were more likely to consider an alternatively-fuel or purely electric vehicle than drivers over the age of 55.

Electric vehicle sales in the U.S. have been slower than expected. While record numbers of Chevy Volts were sold in March, the following month saw a major dip in sales. Nissan has faced a similar pattern of sales with its Leaf.

But auto industry executives say it’s far too early to draw conclusions about the success of the electric vehicle in the U.S.

“I don’t want you to take a one-month or two-month sales result in one particular market to try to make your opinion about the evolution of a very important technology for the industry,” said Nissan’s CEO in April.

Despite the current lag in the EV market, it is clear that America’s relationship with the automobile is changing. Consumers are driving less, using less fuel, and buying more efficient cars. Indeed, many younger consumers are choosing not to buy automobiles at all.

2 Responses to Three Quarters Of Americans Say They Would Consider An ‘Alternative’ Vehicle

  1. Steve says:

    Good post. Thanks.

    Now to take the analysis one step further, if Steve Lacey or anyone else knows — of those ranking fuel economy as their no. 1 concern, is it:

    1) Because of higher gasoline prices and the perception there is only so much the government can, or will, do to stem the tide of that trend?

    2) Or is it because of concern over the present 397 ppm CO2 concentration, well on its way to 450?

    Mind you, it is irrelevant which consideration leads to the change in behavior, whether economic or ideological or whatever — this is about physics, not purity of heart and mind. From a policy standpoint — and from a messaging strategy standpoint — it does matter.

    This is a huge, daunting issue once you get out there and look at the freeways around cities like Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles… and when you see the number of oversized pickups and SUVs on the roads. These people are not reading this blog; they are trying to balance checkbook accounts. Keep their feet to the fire.

  2. fj says:

    It’s great current personal transportation vernacular seems to be migrating from the word car to vehicle both here and in a prior report posted also on Climate Progress by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

    Cars are extremely bad designs and do not fit in the future.

    “Vehicle” indicates a much broader opportunity to break the terrible monopoly of transportation systems based on cars.

    Most importantly it opens to the idea of extremely rapid, positively disruptive design, development and broad deployment of net zero mobility solutions.