Two-thirds of consumers surveyed are familiar with E85 flexible fuel vehicles, and more than one-half are interested in purchasing such a vehicle, according to the latest Harris Interactive AutoTECHCAST, a study conducted bi-annually among adult vehicle owners in the United States.
The survey was conducted online between 15 May 15 and 2 June 2006 among 12,857 US adults ages 18 and over who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver’s license, have at least one household vehicle and own a listed US model dated 2001 or newer.
Among consumers interested in purchasing flexible fuel vehicles, most (88%) cite a reduced dependency on petroleum as the leading reason for consideration. To illustrate this point further, Harris Interactive finds that more than half of all those surveyed (53%) indicate that they are willing to pay more money for a vehicle that relies less on petroleum-based fuel.
Sixty-nine percent of those interested in flex-fuel vehicles also indicate they would choose a flexible fuel vehicle because of the improved fuel economy that they expect will be realized. However, E85 vehicles will likely produce a slight decrease in fuel economy, though vehicle performance will be slightly enhanced given ethanol’s higher octane rating.
Consumers are assuming that a non-petroleum based fuel will result in better fuel economy, but that is not necessarily the case with ethanol. Still, beyond fuel economy, consumers are interested in flexible fuel vehicles for the impact they will have on the environment and that is certainly a benefit that this type of fuel can provide.—Bryan Krulikowski, Senior Director of Harris Interactive’s Automotive & Transportation (ATR) Research Practice
Of the half of consumers who are less than enthusiastic about E85 vehicles, the majority (85%) indicate that the limited availability of fueling stations is a key reason for their lack of interest.
With approximately 800 E85 pumps available nationwide, concerns of availability will have to be addressed before flexible fuel vehicles can have a meaningful impact toward reducing the nation’s dependency on petroleum. As legislators and auto manufacturers continue to support increased production of flexible fuels, we should see a rapid increase in the number of fueling stations available. This will likely lead to increased consideration of these types of vehicles by those who are currently hesitant to consider this technology.—Bryan Krulikowski