Consumers Open to New Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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Consumers Open to New Alternative Fuel Vehicles


ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A new poll from The Fuels Institute finds that consumers are open to new alternative vehicles. Nearly four in 10 respondents (39 percent) said they would consider a non-gasoline vehicle, compared to 30 percent who indicated they would not.

Hybrid vehicles are most appealing to those considering a new car purchase in the next three years, according to the poll results. Eighty-five percent said they would consider a hybrid vehicle, which combines electric power with traditional gasoline power.

Other alternative vehicles were also of some interest to consumers, including electric (55 percent), flex-fuel (52 percent), diesel fuel (30 percent), and other fuels such as propane or natural gas (22 percent).

"The successful fuel and vehicle technology will be decided by the consumer," said John Eichberger, executive director of The Fuels Institute, the nonprofit, research-oriented think tank founded by NACS last year to evaluate market issues related to vehicles and the fuels that power them. "Understanding these preferences is critical for forecasting what the future of personal transportation will look like and for deciding which technologies and fuels should be brought to market."

As is the case with traditional fuels, economics drive consumer purchasing decisions around alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles. When purchasing a new vehicle, poll respondents said they consider fuel economy and the cost of the vehicle far more important than any other attribute. 

More than eight in 10 consumers polled (83 percent) cited fuel economy, while 81 percent cited vehicle cost as influential to their vehicle purchasing decision. Safety features were a distant third (51 percent) followed by fuel or engine type (48 percent),

The survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC among 2,007 gas consumers nationwide. The full results are featured in a white paper, Consumers and Alternative Fuels: Economics Are Top of Mind, which is available for download at

"The results of this national survey provide a clearer understanding of the relative importance of economic considerations made at the pump and in the showroom. However, while economics may influence purchasing decisions within a specific class of vehicle, they may not necessarily change consumer preferences for a specific class of vehicle," said Eichberger.

The Fuels Institute will be publishing three additional reports in September that more closely examine consumer perceptions about non-gasoline vehicle alternatives.

Led by a board of directors and driven by a board of advisors, The Fuels Institute incorporates the perspective of interested stakeholders affected by this market, including but not limited to fuel retailers, fuel producers and refiners, alternative and renewable fuel producers, automobile manufacturers, environmental advocates, consumer organizations, academics, government entities and other stakeholders with expertise in the fuels and automotive industries.