Dana Corporation Featuring Fuel-Cell Work at Hannover Fair
Canadian Provincial Carrier to Test B2 Biodiesel in Half its Fleet

Survey Says: One-Third of US Auto Buyers Likely to Consider Hybrid, Diesel- or Ethanol-fueled Vehicle for Next Car

Vehicle types considered. Click to enlarge.

A recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Personal Finance Poll found that one-third (33%) of US adults who plan to purchase or lease a new vehicle say they are most likely to seriously consider an alternative-fueled vehicle for their next purchase.

Most (92%) of those adults say they are willing to pay more for such a vehicle than a traditional, gasoline-powered version of the same vehicle. Top reasons for considering an alternative-fueled vehicle include concerns for the environment and the cost of fuel.

Almost three in five (58%) adults plan on purchasing a new vehicle, and while 37% say they are most likely to seriously consider a traditional, gas-fueled vehicle, 25% will seriously consider a hybrid, 7% an ethanol-fueled and 2% a diesel-fueled vehicle.

Those most likely to consider alternative-fueled vehicles include:

  • Those who live in the West (38%)
  • Young adults age 18 to 34 (36%)
  • College graduates (44%)
  • Those with an income of $75K or more (40%)

According to the survey, although 8% of responders who would likely consider an alternative-fueled vehicle wouldn’s be willing to pay one cent more, the average extra amount willing to be paid is $9,258.

  • On average, those in the South are willing to pay more ($10,786 extra) for an alternative-fueled vehicle than those in the West ($9,343 extra), Midwest ($8,648 extra) or Northeast ($7,418 extra).

  • Women are willing to pay $11,274 more on average for a vehicle that runs on alternative fuel, compared to men who are willing to pay $7,506 more on average.

  • On average, those with incomes of $50K to $74.9K are willing to pay more than those making less or more than them for an alternative-fueled vehicle ($10,376 extra for those making $50K to $74.9K compared to $7,484 extra for those making less than $35K, $8,501 extra for those making $35K to $49.9K, and $8,594 extra for those making $75K or more).

Reasons for considering. Click to enlarge.

Among those who say they would seriously consider a vehicle that runs on alternative fuel, almost half (47%) say their main reason for doing this is because it is better for the environment. Another 45% percent say their main motive is because their fuel costs will be lower.

Substantially fewer adults cite the fact that they can take advantage of the Federal Clean-Fuel Tax Deduction (3%) and that they will be able to drive in High Occupancy Vehicle (H.O.V.) and carpool lanes (1%) as their most important reason.

  • Those in the Northeast (54%) and Midwest (55%) are most likely to cite fuel costs as their main reason for considering a vehicle that runs on alternative fuel, while those in the West are most likely to cite environmental concerns (64%).

  • Women are almost twice as likely as men to cite environmental concerns as their main reason for consideration (62% and 34%, respectively), while more than half (52%) of men cite fuel costs for their main reason compared to 36% of women.

Harris Interactive conducted the online within the United States between April 4 and 6, 2006 among 2,516 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.



Among other things, these sorts of numbers highlight the need to get hybrid and alternative fuel technologies (and support infrastructures) deployed across a variety of vehicle types and geographic regions. There may be widespread, if moderately felt, interest in near-term adoption of alternative technologies, but if the vehicle types are not there, the sales won't be made.

Right now, in hybrids, we have the Prius (a medium sedan), the Lexus (luxury SUV), the Hondas (small and medium sedans) and the Fords (small SUVs) to market. We also have the mild Silverado (large GM pickup), at or near market. Where are the mass-market large sedans and large SUVs? The luxury sedans and performance cars?

Right now, in alternative liquid fuels, we have a moderate number of E85 stations concentrated in the midwest and a smattering of biodiesel. We also have an ethanol shortage caused by the rapid phase-out of MTBE. We need (and are getting) more production volume. We also need better disribution and uptake -- more widespread conventional-use blends (E10 mandates or incentives) and more E85 clusters in key regions (Southern California, Florida-Georgia). The former would require increased Central Valley production or a pipeline solution (technically tricky because of the chemical properties of alcohol). The latter could probably come down on conventional barges from the midwest along the Mississippi river.

The Prius has made headlines and moderate inroads into the American psyche for the past few years. High oil prices and maturing technologies might tip things over this year, and cause a real shift in American energy habits. The lag time in ramping up production volumes of all the things mentioned here is an issue.

gerald earl

Yeah,what he said.I suspect the acceptance of diesels will rise dramatically when people see the quality of diesel vehicles availlable after the low sulfur fuel standards take effect in u.s.{second half of 2006}if the u.s. adopted diesels anywhere near the rate in Europe fuel consumption would drop.The low sulfur fuel along with clean diesel tech will allow for cleaner driving.These could give way to diesel hybrids.If eestore battery capacitors prove out, engines could shrink and possibly dissapear.These polls show enough progress in American acceptance to move capital investment into these alternatives. We will be living in exciting times.


Lexus' GS450 "luxury" sedan is on its way to dealers, Toyota has a big SUV Highlander hybrid sitting on showroom floors, the Silverado is a GM joke! Realistically, the high end market and big SUV market is quite neglible. Elitist rich folk will be the last to sacrifice their "persona" when it comes to what they are seen driving in. The only green they know is what's left in their trust funds.

Living in "exciting" times? This is survival before the clock strikes 12.


Leasing batteries?
Maturing technologies is the key point, and Toyota, with the Prius, is not letting the technology go bad on the vine. With them releasing, a Prius that will go on electric only for 9 miles is good.
This 2007 Prius could be the "Trojan Horse" for true EVs in the future.
However, If I were the CEO of a big 3 auto maker, fearing loss of revenue because EVs can be made cheaper and more reliable, I would make EVs, but lease the battery!
The stated reasons are:
Evironmental( forcing the customer to return spent batteries to the proper recycling point, which is their service dept)
Safety( can't allow these dangerous cells to be played with by kids)

So look for the automakers to be buying battery patents.

Biofuels? save it for Hummers, Jets, heavy equipment and the Military.


"On average, those in the South are willing to pay more ($10,786 extra) for an alternative-fueled vehicle than those in the West ($9,343 extra), Midwest ($8,648 extra) or Northeast ($7,418 extra)."

OK, now this sounds like an accurate inference. What kind of AFV are people in the South willing to pay more for?
I'm not sure I've seen it racing the NASCAR oval, round and round..


New diesel cars are currently not sold in five states due to overly-restrictive clean air regulations. Two of these states are California and New York. This represents a very significant part of the new car market.

Unless these regulations can be relaxed that market will remain closed.


The hummer replacement may be hybrid.
It would allow the army to haul less fuel operate quietly when needed, and the vehicle could then be used as a genset rather than towing a trailer.

Some heavy mining equipment is already hybrid, in the same way diesel locomotives are.


Interesting study on the life cycle energy and $ cost of vehicles.



Mmmm, a link with lots of smoke and a couple of mirrors from "leftlanenews" claiming a hybrid consumes more energy than a hummer. The auto industry moves slow because it's expensive to rethink & retool. That's how you can skew hybrids more expensive. Never mind green house gases/sustainable mobility. Your mobile dinousaurs are just that.


Gerald- If Gasoline were much more expensive than Diesel as it is in most European countries then I'm sure we would see quite a few people buying diesels. Personally, I think a Diesel should be able to just about hit the emissions standards of a Gasoline powered vehicle before they become the vehicle of choice. Accumulations of particulates from diesels warm the earth just as much as the excess CO2 produced by a gas engine for a comparable trip...so until they can match a gas engine in that respect they are not much better.

Rafael Seidl

Bear in mind that the willingness of consumers to consider alternative powertrain features and to pay a premium for them depends critically on gasoline prices staying high. Compared to Japan and especially, to Europe, prices at US pumps are still very low, by a factor 2 (used to be 3).

The oil business tends to be cyclical and the reasons the presently high levels have been sustained for so long are (a) rapid growth in China, the US, Eastern Europe and India, (b) speculative fears about a supply crunch due to lack of spare production capacity and (c) governments and/or rebels in Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria flexing their new-found economic muscles.

As in the 70s and early 90s, the present oil crunch has produced a flurry of engineering activity in various related industries. The technology shake-out will come if and when fuel supply capacity once again outstrips demand - though when that might be, I will not hazard a guess.

In the meantime, IMHO the most promising approaches for passenger cars are (d) fully variable valve trains and gasoline direct injection, (e) (adaptive) turbucharging and displacement reduction, (f) affordable NOx aftertreatment for lean-burn concepts, (g) mild hybrids with efficient recuperation and (h) dual-clutch transmissions.

On the fuels side, the immediate objective in all industrialized countries is reduced dependency on Middle Eastern oil. However, policymakers in Europe and Japan are at least trying to simultaneously address CO2 emissions. Long-term, biogenic fuels from special crops, waste streams and synthetic BTL will dominate but the cutover will take decades.


Not a chance it will takes decades. Nobody will be left alive on the Earth if it takes that long.


The study cited in the Left Lane News item is highly inadequate to say the least.

In the first instance, the documents released so far by the one-man-show which is the research firm that produced this report make no mention of the specific methodology used to reach the conclusions presented. Without such disclosure, one cannot begin to measure the accuracy or utility of the specific conclusions.

But more to the point, even if his numbers are correct through the present day, that skews the results in and of itself. Hybrids are fairly new. Their massive R&D costs have barely begun to be ammortized over the full production volume of such cars. Moreover, with volumes still pretty low, the economies of scale that would make their component parts cheaper and more efficient have yet to take hold.

Just by perusing the rankings released so far, there seems to be a major up-skew in costs associated with models which have traditionally low volumes -- i.e. super luxury cars. They are not necessarily that much more fuel-inefficient than a Ford Excursion, and the energy costs of their luxury materials and workmanship are probably not all that much worse either. But their engineering and development overhead is spread over so few units that the cost comes out substantially higher than your typical large SUV.

When hybrid volumes ramp up, those overhead costs will be spread out much further. Moreover, economies of scale will drive down per unit incremental costs as well. Both these effects, which are not yet reflected in current hybrid production volumes, give lie to the "Hummer is better than hybrid" view, over the long haul.


Some more info on that CNW Marketing Research study, the one quoted by Left Lane News, may be found here: LINK

The most glaring problem I see is vehicle life. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the avearge car in America lasts 152,000 miles. The average light truck (including SUVs) last 180,000 miles. That's an 18% advantage.

What assumption did CNW Marketing Research use in their study? That cars last 100,000 miles and trucks/SUVs last 250,000 (or a 250% advantage). Of course the Ford Escape Hybrid will come out ahead of the Prius when you use numbers like that. Of course, you have to assume (in the face of the NHTSA's data) that the Escape Hybrid will last 250% longer than a Pius.

Do you suppose that this "marketing research" has a special benefit for SUV makers, given those lifetime assumptions? Who do you suppose paid for this "marketing research?"


"...decades. Nobody will be left aliv on Earth if it takes so lng"

How you managed to survive bug Y2K katastrophy?!


"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the avearge car in America lasts 152,000 miles. The average light truck (including SUVs) last 180,000 miles."

cool, I did not know that.

so how long is a car based suv expected to last? Like the highlander/lexus rx 300 both are built on a toyota car chassis, as is the Rav-4

So it is not surprising to see the carola / lexus / highlander hybrids come to market at about the same time.

The CRV / element are both built on the awd civic chassis sold in japan.

How much longer before the crv/ element become availabe with the hybrid option?

likewise the pilot and ridgeline now that there is an accord hybrid?


rj, I suppose the NHTSA must have numbers for specific models. The most accurate thing would be to see how past CRVs (they've been around for a while) have lasted, etc.

In the meantime, one could check out the reliability and repair data at the consumer sites. Presumably a car that gets repaired the least will last the longest.


"How you managed to survive bug Y2K katastrophy?!"

Y2K was basically a computer threat, to compare that with the consequences of global warming is ridiculous

tom deplume

What are they thinking?? the most important factor in economic growth is technological innovation. So why do these anti-innovation "studies" keep popping up?

Joseph Taylor

I don't think was Y2K and global warming was the comparison, You to chicken little was. The sky is falling the sky is falling.


Maybe the sky IS falling ...

NAW - All we have to do is trust dubyah and Rash Limberger.

gerald earl

The adoption of low sulfur diesel fuel and the new clean diesel technologies will bring the diesels into fifty state compliance.{see bluetec}The diesels are up to thirty percent more efficient{higher mpg}so as of 2007 they should be greener than the majority of gas engines.Thank you Patrick for issuing your counterpoint without the {yeah,oh yeah}fifth grade response some seem obliged to offer.As for the battery leasing ,this has been looked into by some electric utilities.They would be selling the power so ensuring we drive on electric is in their interest.Cal cars and plug in partners may have more info on that concept.

Jack Lacton

Diesel may well be more effecient but given it's a byproduct of the manufacture of normal gasoline I think it's a tad hard to make it a replacement!

The comments to this entry are closed.