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Survey: Fuel efficiency top criterion for US buyers regardless of size of vehicle; good news for start-stop

American consumers are strongly influenced by fuel efficiency and the price of gas when purchasing a vehicle, according to a new survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Johnson Controls. Of the 1,006 people surveyed, fuel efficiency (57%) is top of mind for consumers when they go to buy any size automobile, followed closely by cost (55%) and safety (54%).

That preference is consistent with a similar survey conducted five years ago, despite falling gas prices, which are down more than 37% from the national average in 2011. The new survey also found consumers are sensitive to the price of fuel when considering a new vehicle, with 64% saying it directly impacts their purchase. This is up 14% from 2011.

Whether someone wants to drive a truck, SUV, or car, increased fuel efficiency remains the number one purchase criterion for American car buyers. What we’re seeing in the market place due to low and stable gas prices is a migration to larger vehicles, but the expectation now is that those vehicles come with increased fuel efficiency.

—Joe Walicki, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions

MaryAnn Wright, group vice president of Technology and Industry Relations, Johnson Controls Power Solutions, noted that automakers have made significant advances in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions through implementation of several new technologies, such as turbo charging, engine downsizing and light weighting across their fleets. The next big technology in the US is start-stop, with an increase in fuel efficiency of up to 5%, she suggested.

By 2020, Johnson Controls predicts 50% of all new vehicles in the US will have start-stop technology. GM plans to make it standard across its fleet by 2020 and Ford announced it will integrate start-stop across all EcoBoost equipped vehicles.

In the last year, there were more than twice the number of start-stop vehicles produced in the US versus the total of all types of hybrid, plug-in and electric vehicles combined, and we see that trend continuing.

—Joe Walicki

The survey also found, that of those consumers open to buying a start-stop vehicle:

  • 82% would consider start-stop for fuel savings

  • 72% say environmental impact is a key benefit in driving interest in start-stop vehicles

  • 57% would consider start-stop for its low incremental cost

The report presents the findings of a survey conducted among a sample of 1,006 adults comprising 504 men and 502 women, 18 years of age and older. The omnibus telephone study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative US sample. This survey was live on 14-17 July 2016. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.1%.


Joseph Wilder

There's something inelegant about stop/start the way it's often implemented. The way I prefer to see it work is "Start on a roll" (SOAR) where the electric motor gets the car going, then momentum is used to start the engine. This way of starting the engine is almost unnoticeable. The other way where the car shuts off at a stop light, then restarts when your foot is taken off the brake is noisy and prone to vibration. SOAR is the better way.


I agree, current S&S is the most annoying thing and it already comes with the more expensive 12 AGM battery.

No matter how incremental moves they are trying to make, the only way to make engine work to please the driver is to make a proper hybrid and for that driving pleasure people are already willing to spend money. For S&S the way it's implemented now no one is willing to pay a dime.

The survey is misleading, because probably only a minority had a real life S&S experience. Do the same survey in EU and results will be upside down.


Moving the vehicle with the electric motor requires a far bigger motor and battery than just starting the engine.  This puts you way out of S/S cost territory.

Nick Lyons

I drove a GM rental with start/stop and it worked fine--hardly noticed it except for the indicator in the dash.


Another set of gizmo that jack up the price, add weight and you won't save enouph in gas to pay it and you can be strand up in traffic on a bridge in rush hour with a stall as you start-up stop too often and the starter overheat.

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