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Consumer Reports has released limited findings from a recent telephone survey it conducted about demand for hybrid and electric vehicles in the United States. The publication found that although driving green ranked just 11th out of 12 consumer considerations in purchasing a vehicle, 39 percent are considering buying a hybrid or plug-in for their next car.
The study underlines the importance of maintaining a healthy skepticism whenever you see headlines like “Most Consumers Not Ready for Hybrids” or “Bumpy Road for Electric Cars.” While it may be true that just 51 percent of consumers factor in a desire “go green” when they shop for a car, it’s easily forgotten that hybrid and electric vehicles currently account for less than 3 percent of the total car market.
That means that if a relatively small fraction of the 39 percent who say they will consider a hybrid or EV actually buy one, it could still end up representing major growth for the market. Furthermore, with plethora of new electric-drive models expected to hit the market in the coming years, consumers who may think they aren’t in the market for a hybrid will have many more options available to them than they might think.
Fuel prices are also a major factor in determining the market for hybrids, and while currently low, any noticeable and sustained jump in the cost of fuel has been shown to boost the number of people interested in purchasing them. At the peak of the gasoline spike in 2008, a JD Power study found that 62 percent of its respondents were considering buying a hybrid.
So while most Americans may not go to the dealership thinking “green,” plenty more are interested enough in saving money that they would take a look at a hybrid a when gas prices are high. Consumer Reports says that it’s still analyzing the results of its study, but will be releasing them in full shortly.