Voltec chassis used in the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera

Chevy Volt

All-electric Nissan Leaf
Most Americans still prefer gasoline-driven engines

Harris Interactive's 2010 AutoTECHCAST conducted a study that showed U.S. vehicle owners still prefer improved fuel economy of existing gasoline-driven engines at a lower cost as opposed to higher priced alternative-fueled engine. 

The survey took place online between April 6-26 of this year, and included 12,225 adult Americans who are 18 and older, have a valid driver's license, own or lease at least one vehicle, own a listed North American model from 2005 or newer, and are at least 50 percent involved in the decision-making process for their next vehicle purchase/lease. The survey consisted of start/stop systems, ECO drive assistants, flexible fuel vehicles, compressed natural gas engines, plug-in hybrid engines, clean diesel engines, fuel cell engines and 61 other varied technologies such as entertainment, lighting, safety, telematics, exterior and comfort convenience, intelligent sensing and glass. 

According to the survey, a very small number of Americans would buy alternative-fueled vehicles. One in 25 vehicle owners said they would be extremely or very likely to purchase hybrid-electric engines (4%), plug-in hybrids (4%), fuel cell engines (4%) and pure electric engines (2%). In addition, nearly one in six owners would be extremely or very likely to buy flexible fuel engines (16%) or clean diesel engines (14%).

Start/stop systems and ECO drive assistants, both of which are approximately a 10 percent gain in fuel economy from regular gasoline-driven engines,  received much higher approval from American respondents. One in five vehicle owners would be extremely or very likely to purchase a start/stop system (21%) or ECO drive assistant (19%). 

Price is a large reason why American vehicle owner's won't make the switch to greener autos, but it's not the only reason. Other problems such as the lack of infrastructure for refueling or recharging, concerns about service and repair, the price of fuel and and how long a charge will last in electric vehicles. 

While it looks as though many Americans won't become serious buyers of alternative-fueled vehicles any time soon, the survey says that vehicle owners' interest consideration of buying compressed natural gas vehicles has risen from 11 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2010. 

"Consideration for clean diesel engines has been consistent over the past several years of the study, while that of flexible fuel engines decreased," said David Duganne, Senior Research Director of Harris Interactive Automotive and Transportation Research.

"With the current push of clean diesel by European automakers, we anticipate this will start to increase while consideration for flexible fuel will continue to decrease, especially as other alternative fueled engines continue to come to market."

To represent U.S. vehicle owners properly, results for the 2010 AutoTECHCAST survey were weighted as necessary for gender, age, education, income and region. 

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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