Report: Car Buyers Prefer Fuel Economy Over Performance

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Better fuel economy trumps performance for most consumers according to the most recent Powertrain Acceptance and Consumer Engagement study, released by Morpace Inc. in Farmington Hills.

According to the PACE results announced Monday, 68 percent would sacrifice vehicle performance in favor of improved fuel economy, while 48 percent of consumers would be willing to pay more for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly.

“(The interest in fuel economy) has always existed, especially within the last six years,” says Bryan Krulikowski, vice president of Morpace Automotive, a survey research and consulting organization. “People are getting to the point where they expect fuel prices to rise, so they’re becoming more and more interested as they anticipate the higher fuel prices.”

From the report, 28 percent of vehicle owners said they were completely satisfied with the fuel economy for their vehicle (including 14 percent of pickup truck owners and 15 percent of minivan owners). Another 62 percent of consumers indicate they would shop different brands of vehicles in order to get the most fuel-efficient model possible.

Krulikowski says the survey results serves as warning for manufacturers. “The real finding here is that shopping for a car is no longer just about brand loyalty, so being the leader for fuel economy in your vehicle segment is pretty important right now,” he says.

Besides fuel economy, reliability and vehicle operating costs also topped the charts, at 77 and 67 percent, as the most important powertrain-related reasons for purchasing a vehicle.

While hybrid-electric vehicles ranked as the most popular alternative fuel option, people are still most comfortable with gasoline, Krulikowski says. “They just want manufacturers to develop more fuel efficient models.”

Many consumers express interest in battery-powered vehicles, but real-word challenges stand in the way of their purchase, says Krulikowski, counting cost, lack of infrastructure, and low driving ranges among some of the obstacles.

Information for the study was gathered from approximately 3,000 consumers in the United States.

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