Survey: Majority of Californians Concerned about Energy Security and Climate Change; Diesel Seen as Part of the Solution
A significant majority of Californians are concerned about climate change and the state’s reliance on imported energy, and they view clean diesel technology as a positive solution to both problems, according to the results of a recent public opinion poll sponsored by the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF).
Some 79% of California voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that California continues to import an increasing percentage of its energy, while 63% are very or somewhat concerned about climate change. When asked, "Do you think your personal vehicle has any impact on the earth's climate," 60% of respondents said yes, 33 percent of survey respondents said no, and 7% didn’t know or declined to answer.
The survey asked respondents to choose what type of vehicle they would purchase to show their concern for the environment. Some 60% of Californians said they would choose a hybrid-electric vehicle over a clean diesel vehicle (29%)—"both of which had the same fuel economy and emissions output."
However, those percentages changed when respondents were asked if they knew the clean diesel option was "up to $2,000 less expensive than the hybrid electric option, and both options had comparable emissions and fuel economy." In that case, 54% said they would choose a clean diesel vehicle over a hybrid electric vehicle (38%).
Californians recognize the key role diesel technology plays in the state's goods movement and farm and construction industries, but they surprised us somewhat in their recognition of diesel passenger cars.
What we wanted to know is: If a clean diesel is cost-competitive or superior to a hybrid vehicle, would consumers be likely to choose a clean diesel? How much does the price of the technology affect the market competition between both platforms?
Now we know that consumers are likely to choose a clean diesel vehicle over a hybrid electric once they compare fuel economy, emissions and price. This suggests to us that consumers recognize other fuel efficient technologies and are receptive to them.—Allen Schaeffer, DTF Executive Director
Other findings of the survey include:
Some 65% of Californians believe the state’s air quality has improved or remained the same during the past 20 years, while only 9% believe it has gotten worse.
Asked if government policies to reduce energy consumption and air pollution should favor certain technologies, or let technology improvements meet specific standards, 64% favored results-driven public policy while 27% favored government picking favored technologies.
On a related question, 69% of respondents said government should not choose between compressed natural gas or clean diesel powered large vehicles if both technologies comparably reduced fuel consumption and emissions.
Asked "which do you think is the most likely way that climate change will be addressed," 28% said "new technologies driven by consumer demand," 20% said "new laws and regulations," 12% said "individual action," and 32% said "a combination of each."
When people think of "diesel," 61% think of heavy-duty trucks, 16% think of passenger vehicles, and 8% think of off-road equipment like tractors.
The public opinion survey was conducted April 12-14 by David Binder Research of San Francisco. The survey had a sample size of 500 California voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) is a non-profit public education and outreach organization made up of diesel vehicle and engine makers, components manufacturers and fuel providers.