Deloitte Survey: Generation Y's Embrace of Hybrid Vehicles May be Auto Market's Advantage

Study finds younger drivers prefer hybrid vehicles that promote connectivity and safety.
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DETROIT — Gen Y’s strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the “generation that leads us away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles,” reports Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practice leader at Deloitte LLP, after seeing the results of Deloitte’s annual survey of Gen Y consumers and what they want in an automobile.

59 percent of Gen Y respondents surveyed prefer an ‘electrified vehicle’ over any other type of car or truck. Moreover, Gen Y consumers heavily favor hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (57 percent) over pure battery electric vehicles (2 percent) or vehicles with a traditional gasoline-only powertrain (37 percent).

The annual survey, now in its fourth year, canvassed 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer consumers in the United States, as well as 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 Gen Y consumers in Western Europe. Deloitte conducted the survey in September and October 2011. It defines Gen Y consumers as those ranging in age from 19 to 31.

According to Giffi, Gen Y consumers may be the game changers in the United States because, at nearly 80 million strong, they are one of the biggest domestic automobile buying market segments and the largest consumer segment since the baby boomers.

From the study, Giffi found that Gen Y consumers are drawn to hybrids for several reasons. Most notably, fuel efficiency: 89 percent of Gen Y consumers are considering buying a vehicle that gets better mileage, especially true when gasoline prices rise above $2.75 per gallon – the median price Gen Y consumers see as ‘fair.’

Further, the survey shows that Gen Y respondents are married to the convenience of traditional gasoline-powered automobiles, strongly preferring powertrains that do not require plug-in recharging. 


“Gen Y consumers prefer automobiles that are an extension of their social-media and digital lifestyles,” reports Joe Vitale, global automotive sector leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.  In-dash technology is the most important part of a vehicle’s interior for a majority (59 percent) of Gen Y respondents, with almost three-quarters seeking touchscreen interfaces.

Gen Y consumers also realize that this increased connectivity can create safety issues. Solution: a vehicle that may compensate for the distractions that result from increased connectivity with ramped-up safety features.

“Gen Y consumers are willing to pay for technology that can help them better manage all the distractions created by connectivity,” says Vitale. “On average, they will shell out approximately $2,000 for a bundle of safety features like collision-avoidance systems, blind spot detection and sleep alert systems.”

 

Deloitte announced the preliminary results of the survey at its Shifting Gears conference yesterday in Detroit. Full survey findings will be released in February.

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