Car Shoppers More Environmentally Aware Than Once Thought

Looks like car buyers aren’t as fickle about fuel efficiency as once thought. Just last month, Edmunds.com reported that consideration of hybrids on its website had dropped by 34 percent since gas prices registered record highs in July. Nobody has questioned the importance of high gas prices to the rise of green cars, but one has to wonder: Just how many car shoppers out there are concerned enough about the environment that it factors into a purchase decision?

According to a study by Kelley Blue Book’s market research division, the answer is “quite a few.” Sixty-one percent of new-vehicle shoppers told EcoWatch—a new green car marketing report published by KBB—that it is important to them to purchase a vehicle from a brand that is environmentally friendly. Of those car shoppers, 58 percent say that they are considering fuel-efficient vehicles in response to environmental concerns.

Even the most eco-conscious consumers like the economic savings that come with saving the world, but it appears that more people are looking beyond pocketbook issues. The environmental ambivalence that accompanied the SUV boom of the early 2000s probably didn’t erode because of “An Inconvenient Truth.” More likely, rising gas prices helped to bring fuel efficiency—and all of the benefits associated with it—into the public consciousness.

There’s also evidence that these changes are here to stay. Fifty-eight percent of those who have changed the type of vehicle they’re planning to purchase say that they would not revert back to their old preferences—even if the price of gas went back down to $1.00 per gallon. And these shoppers are willing to spend, on average, $2,600 more for a fuel-efficient car, according to the KBB study.


  • DJB

    Concern for the environment is all about education. Hopefully, more and more people will have the opportunity to study problems like global warming and the health impacts of other air pollution. Expensive gas can make people “environmentalists of convenience” but only study can make people activists. The evidence about people sticking with their cleaner vehicles is encouraging, but we still have a lot of work to do to build a sustainable economy in the most car-addicted nation on earth.

  • Paul Masterson

    My present car a Ford Focus will be three years old in February, I plan to purchase a new car in two years and it will be some type of fuel efficient vehicle, Hybrid or Diesel. I am with the group who says the price of gas is not going to influence me,the enverement is the concern I have. We need as a Country to get off the oil dependency-elimanate as much as posabible all imports of it. Paul M.