The Global View

US shoppers willing to buy hybrid when they know what it is

prius.JPGGreenbang stumbled across a great green themed press release this week. As opening paragraphs go, this one’s a doozy: “According to a new survey by global market research firm Synovate, US consumers are more familiar with advanced propulsion systems compared to a year ago”.

Advanced propulsion systems? Familiar? Greenbang wonders how Synovate worked out the familiarity levels. She lazily imagines some sort of flash cards, normally used by pushy mothers teaching their pre-schoolers how to read. “What’s this?” says the market researcher, brandishing a card. “That’s an orange,” says the US consumer. “And this?” “That’s a beachball.” “And what about this?” “That’s a plug-in hybrid advanced propulsion system, obviously. I didn’t recognise it last year, but now I do. I’m much more familiar.”

Whatever their method, Synovate has found out that stateside Joe Public has been pushed to get to grips with newer, greener motoring technologies as fuel prices rise and the economy looks ready to do the opposite.

Still, it doesn’t mean that hybrids are likely to be parting consumers from their money any time soon:

“While fuel economy is climbing in terms of purchase reasons, it still has not penetrated the top 10 reasons for purchasing a new vehicle,” says Scott Miller, CEO of Synovate Motoresearch. “Consumers are not willing to sacrifice safety, reliability and value for the money,” adds Miller.

High fuel prices and concerns about the environment influence consumers’ consideration of hybrid-electric vehicles, while these same concerns flatten direct injection diesel consideration. Consumers cite battery concerns as a leading reason for not considering battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles although many look past this issue for hybrids in general, driving it to its highest consideration ever.

Synovate also found out that once consumers read up a bit about the pros and cons of various technologies, they tended to feel the love more towards hybrids and less so towards flex-fuel motors.

Here’s a graph for good measure: