Consideration for Alternative Powertrain Vehicles Is Rising, But Still Dogged By Consumer Doubts

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DETROIT, June 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — As the automotive industry continues to develop alternative powertrain vehicles, consumer consideration for these vehicles is on the rise. However, infrastructure, price, driving range and maintenance concerns continue to dampen enthusiasm about these technologies according to the 2011 AutoTECHCAST™ Study released by Harris Interactive.

Basic barriers continue to limit widespread consideration of these technologies. Forty percent of consumers who are somewhat or not at all likely to consider a hybrid electric vehicle still express reservations about replacing the batteries, while 43% of consumers indicate that pure electric vehicles will not travel as far as they need, an increase over last year (36% in 2010).

When price is taken into account, consideration for pure electric engines has more than doubled over the past year (5% in 2011, 2% in 2010) and is in-line with consideration for plug-in hybrid technology. With plug-in hybrid technology, 5% of consumers say they are either extremely or very likely to consider this technology at market price compared to 4% in 2010. Consideration for a fuel cell vehicle increased from 4% in 2010 to 7% in 2011.

“While consideration is on the rise, consumers still have questions about these technologies, both financial and environmental,” said David Duganne, Sr. Research Director of Automotive and Transportation Research. “Consumers continue to take a ‘show me don’t tell me’ attitude. In order for wider adoption to occur, considerable consumer education needs to take place, and automakers need to enhance the value proposition.”

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • Although the brands do not yet have an entry in the category, Toyota and Honda are perceived by consumers as market leaders in the electric vehicle category. When asked about being leaders in plug-in hybrid technology, 51% of consumers identified Toyota while 33% identified Honda. For pure electric technology, 27% identified Toyota while 14% identified Honda. Nissan, which has the Leaf available, was identified by 8% of consumers.
  • Younger buyers, aged 18-34, are far more likely to consider new technologies at market price. They had the strongest consideration for voice activated controls and features (44%) and MP3/iPod audio system interface (43%).  For both technologies consideration was at least 11 percentage points higher than those ages 35 – 54. These technologies are a cost of entry for younger buyers. The gap was much narrower on convenience items such as capless fueling system (27% vs. 19%) and rain sensor and automatic wipers (30% vs. 22%).
  • Despite higher brand equity, automakers have yet to sufficiently take advantage of aftermarket navigation system brands. Garmin (84%), TomTom (81%) and Magellan (67%) all had significantly higher awareness among consumers than all other navigation system brands combined (48%).

Methodology

Harris Interactive’s U.S. AutoTECHCAST study provides OEM vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1-2-3 suppliers with in-depth U.S. consumer research on over 60 advanced automotive technologies covering Entertainment, Exterior & Interior Comfort and Convenience, Glass, Intelligent Sensing, Lighting, Powertrain and Alternative Fuels, Safety, and Telematics.  The 2011 AutoTECHCAST study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between April 15, 2010May 11, 2011 among 11,567 U.S. adults ages 18 and over and who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver’s license, have at least one household vehicle, own a vehicle model year 2006 or newer, and are at least 50 percent involved in the decision to buy their next household vehicle. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, region and income and to properly represent U.S. vehicle segment owners. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.  

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

For more information on this study please contact Anthony Bean at abean@harrisinteractive.com or 248-404-8804.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

TABLE 1 REASONS FOR NOT CONSIDERING HYBRID ELECTRIC ENGINES “For which of the following reasons are you not likely to include Hybrid Electric technology in your next vehicle?” Base: Somewhat or not at all likely to consider a Hybrid Electric Engine prior to market price exposure

  
 
Total
 
%
 
Concerns about long-term savings relative to initial cost of the vehicle
46
 
Concerns about replacing the battery
40
 
Concerns about service and repair of engine
31
 
Reliability and durability
26
 
Size of the vehicle
17
 
Style of the vehicle
13
 
Concerns about getting the advertised fuel economy
13
 
Safety concerns
7
 
Other
6
 
I’m not interested in hybrid electric vehicles
24
 
  
  

TABLE 2 REASONS FOR NOT CONSIDERING PURE ELECTRIC ENGINES “Earlier you indicated you are not likely to purchase a Pure Electric Vehicle. Please select the top two reasons for not considering a Pure Electric Vehicle?” Base: Somewhat or not at all likely to consider a Pure Electric Engine prior to market price exposure

  
 
2010
2011
 
 
%
%
 
The vehicle will not travel as far as I need on a daily basis
36
43
 
Charging the vehicle on a daily basis is inconvenient
37
38
 
The cost to charge the vehicle on a daily basis will be too expensive
24
30
 
The cost of fixing  the vehicle will be too expensive
24
28
 
I don’t believe electric vehicles perform as well as traditional gasoline-powered vehicles
29
26
 
I question the reliability of the engine
17
23
 
Other
15
12
 
  
   

TABLE 3 LIKELIHOOD TO PURCHASE ALTERNATIVE FUEL TECHNOLOGIES “How likely would you be to purchase this technology if it added [INSERT PRICE] to the total cost of your vehicle?” Base: Adults who evaluated the technology

  
 
Fuel Cell Engine
Plug-In Hybrid Engine
Pure Electric Engine
 
2010
2011
2010
2011
2010
2011
 
Additional Price
$5000
$4000
$4000
 
 
%
%
%
 
Extremely/Very likely (NET)
4
7
4
5
2
5
 
    Extremely Likely
2
3
2
2
1
2
 
    Very Likely
2
4
3
3
2
3
 
Likely
5
5
6
8
5
7
 
Not very likely (NET)
91
88
91
88
93
88
 
    Somewhat Likely
23
20
21
22
18
18
 
    Not At All Likely
68
68
70
66
75
70
 
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
 
       

TABLE 4 LEADERS IN PURE ELECTRIC VEHICLES “In your opinion, which of the following vehicle manufacturers do you believe will emerge as the leader in the automotive industry when it comes to pure electric vehicles?” Base: Adults who evaluated Pure Electric Engine

  
 
Total
 
%
 
Toyota
29
 
Honda
14
 
General Motors
12
 
Ford
10
 
Nissan
10
 
Chevrolet
8
 
Hyundai
3
 
Volkswagen
2
 
BMW
2
 
Mercedes-Benz
1
 
Mitsubishi
1
 
Chrysler
1
 
Mazda
0
 
Other
9
 
  
  

TABLE 5 LEADERS IN PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES “In your opinion, which of the following vehicle manufacturers do you believe will emerge as the leader in the automotive industry when it comes to plug-in hybrid vehicles?” Base: At least likely to consider a Plug-in Hybrid Engine prior to market price exposure

  
 
Total
 
%
 
Toyota
51
 
Honda
33
 
Ford
21
 
General Motors
19
 
Nissan
17
 
Chevrolet
15
 
BMW
11
 
Volkswagen
9
 
Hyundai
8
 
Mitsubishi
7
 
Mazda
6
 
Mercedes-Benz
4
 
Chrysler
4
 
Other
2
 
  
  

TABLE 6A TECHNOLOGY CONSIDERATION VARIATIONS BY AGE GROUPS “How likely would you be to purchase this technology if it added [INSERT PRICE] to the total cost of your vehicle?” Base: Adults who evaluated the technology

  
Additional Price
Voice Activated Controls and Features
MP3/iPod Audio System Interface
Capless Fueling System
Rain Sensor and Automatic Wipers
 
 
%
%
%
%
 
Extremely/Very likely (NET)
34
26
21
25
 
    Extremely Likely
16
15
11
11
 
    Very Likely
18
11
10
14
 
Likely
19
16
13
14
 
Not very likely (NET)
49
59
67
61
 
    Somewhat Likely
27
23
29
28
 
    Not At All Likely
21
36
38
33
 
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
 
     

TABLE 6B TECHNOLOGY CONSIDERATION VARIATIONS BY AGE GROUPS Summary of those saying “extremely likely” or “very likely” Base: Adults who evaluated the technology

  
 
Age 18 – 34
Age 35 – 54
Age 55 +
 
Voice Activated Controls and Features
44
33
29
 
MP3/iPod Audio System Interface
43
28
11
 
Capless Fueling System
27
19
17
 
Rain Sensor and Automatic Wipers
30
22
25
 
  
    

TABLE 7 AWARENESS OF NAVIGATION BRANDS “Which of the following brands of navigation systems are you aware of? Please select all that apply.” Base: Adults who evaluated Navigation System

  
 
Total
 
%
 
Garmin
84
 
TomTom
81
 
Magellan
67
 
All other brands (NET)
48
 
  
  

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