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Poll: Enhanced Fuel Economy Remains Top Priority for European Vehicle Owners

For the second year in a row, the Harris Interactive AutoTECHCAST Europe poll indicates that vehicle owners in five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) have chosen enhanced fuel economy as the top automotive technology that they are very or extremely likely to purchase for their next new vehicle (39% compared to 41% last year).

Spanish adults show the highest likelihood of choosing enhanced-fuel economy as the top automotive technology that they are very or extremely likely to purchase for their next new vehicle (63%), followed by Italian and German respondents (45% and 36% respectively).

Within this European market, vehicle fuel economy remains the primary driver of consumer vehicle purchase consideration. Increasing petrol and diesel prices caused by fluctuations in market supply and political instability in major oil producing countries is a major concern to European vehicle owners.

The current volume of diesel vehicles already in the European market and their inherent higher fuel economy has a direct impact on consumers’ lack of interest in gasoline-based hybrid technologies that are increasing in popularity in the United States. Consumers are more likely to consider fuel cell-based vehicles rather than hybrid powertrains. As fuel cell technology evolves and production efficiencies drive prices to lower levels, there will be strong demand in the European market.

—Scott D. Upham, Senior Vice President, Automotive Research, Harris Interactive

Nearly three out of 10 European vehicle owners (28%) indicate they are “very likely” or “extremely likely” to include fuel cell technology on their next vehicle purchase. However, consideration falls substantially (22%) once the market price is introduced.

Harris Interactive conducted this online survey in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom between September 22 and December 4, 2006 among a total of 16,842 adults aged 18 and over. Qualified respondents had to own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver’s license, have at least one household vehicle and own a listed European model dated 1998 or newer. Figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also applied to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

(A hat-tip to Bob!)



Again, it's due to the high taxes they pay for fuel. If the USA would have these taxes, we too would want more fuel efficient cars. Simple economics. If a car consumes 50% less fuel and fuel goes up 100%, you effectively are paying the same price to travel, the advantage is less abuse of the evironment. I'm all for it.


In 2005 I traded my 1997 RAV4 for a new Corolla. Before then I was getting an average of 22mpg or less and filling the tank every 4-5 days, ten gallons each time. Gas prices at the time were about $2.40-2.60 a gallon. I was spending well over $200 a month on gas.

I can go 340 miles on the same ten gallons now. The Corolla gets roughly 50% better gas mileage and made up a savings of roughly half the monthly payment. Even at these prices my current fuel costs are about $100 per month.

I also have a Honda Reflex scooter, a 250cc machine that's freeway legal and typically gets over 65mpg. Once the weather warms up I'm going to go back to using it 2-3 days per week.


One reason why European cars are more fuel efficient are the diesels that compose nearly 50% of their LDV fleet. If our regs were more like theirs, we might be that efficient as well. But the Clean Air Act and California's ARB put the thumbscrews on transportation emissions. The trade off is cleaner air for less fuel efficiency.


Yet another industry funded survey pushing the dreaded "fool cell" yes I can really see my friendly mechanic working on one of those , then maybe thats the point !


This proves the hype around fuel cells vastly outpaces the reality of them, considering battery electric vehicles are far closer to market penetration in terms of both cost and infrastructure, yet was not even mentioned in this survey.

Rafael Seidl

Gas guzzling SUVs are becoming unfashionable in some parts of Europe, e.g. London, but then there are always some who will buy them anyhow just because they can afford it. CUVs will likely be a big hit with the over-60 crowd just because they're easier to get into than sedans. Younger buyers will stick with butched-up station wagons.

The "concessions" the average European car buyer will make for the sake of fuel economy is to buy a diesel rather than a gasoline engine and perhaps, a tranny with longer gearing. Otherwise, he will continue to look for sufficient space and quality interiors as well as an engine that's a cut above the base model. And he will be prepared to pay a little bit extra for biofuel blends, but only if everyone else has to as well.

The only way to reduce CO2 production even further is legislation forcing car makers to improve on their fleet averages and then market the results. This is what the EU Commission has decided it will propose for MY 2012.


here in northern italy , switzerland we have companies making BEV ,s on Fiat and renault platforms , they all use the zebra battery , which has shown itself to be very reliable and in quantity has a chance of being made economicaly . the cars have just been tested by the EU joint reaserch centre here in northern italy and where found to be extremly realiable performing to the range quoted etc . These cars are real cars not glorified golf carts, and are capable of 60-70 mph and cost here in europe 2euros , about $3 in electricity to cover 120 km .
They are available now , not in ten years time , however the problem is quantity , they will never be made cheaply enough in the current numbers , and the media seem to have a problem with the electric car ," nice idea ,but we don´t want to talk about it " maybe it has somthing to do with the amount of advertising revenue that comes their way from the car companies .
What is needed is a American dealer to come over here and do a deal for a few thousand units to sell in the states to get the ball rolling

link is for a picture of one of the above mentioned cars in a public charging bay in Lugano Switzerland

Rafael Seidl

Andrichose -

" [...] maybe it has somthing to do with the amount of advertising revenue that comes their way from the car companies [...]"

That sounds about right. I suspect the oil & gas lobby as well as various finance ministers would also prefer to keep personal mobility and the electricity grid firmly separate.

More prosaically, though, consumer expectations wrt infrastructure are notoriously hard to change. People have been led to expect 0-100kph acceleration in less than 10 seconds plus 300+ km range from their cars. BEVs only meet the pure commuter/city runabout mode of operation, which most people do not consider enough for their primary car. Those who can afford a second one at all in Europe will balk at the initial purchase price of a BEV (>EUR 20000 instead of ~EUR 10000). In the back of their minds, there may also be the nagging suspicion that sooner or later the taxman will claw back the revenue lost because BEVs don't fill up on highly taxed petrol or diesel.

A better approach might be to persuade short-haul logistics service providers to gradually switch their fleets to BEVs, e.g. taxis, courier services, mail delivery, garbage trucks, even city buses. This is already happening in the UK with the Newton trucks and could be accelerated if society decides to provide the necessary financial carrots.


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