Consumers Have ‘Wait and See’ Attitude to Hybrids
(Akron/Tire Review) A new study by the Polk Center for Automotive Studies reveals that American consumers may not yet be sold on the idea of hybrid vehicles, despite fast-rising gas prices. The primary reason for their hesitation? Their feeling that there are added costs connected to hybrid technology.
The consumer opinion poll focused on regional and national attitudes and public awareness of hybrid technology in passenger vehicles and possible factors contributing to the adoption and success of this highly-monitored segment in the US auto industry, according to the Polk Center.
“We’re seeing some pretty interesting dynamics regarding the whole hybrid vehicle agenda,” said Lonnie Miller, director of industry analysis for Polk. “Input from our recent work shows that more than 97 per cent of those we spoke to have heard of a hybrid vehicle. This indicates the industry is doing a great job of getting the word out about this offering in cars and trucks.”
The study showed that 78 per cent of those surveyed would consider buying a hybrid, but cost will come into play when the real purchase decisions take place. Of those who never owned a hybrid vehicle, 61 per cent said the cost of this type of vehicle could be a deterrent, and almost 30 per cent believe benefits they would receive from a hybrid vehicle would not justify the extra investment.
With the premium for a hybrid ranging from $4,000 – $9,000 more than a traditional gas-powered vehicle, selling the added benefits will be crucial. “We see the general desire for these types of vehicles growing,” said Jeff Martini, vice president of Polk’s OEM division. “However, the compelling argument to actually buy one has to be made more strongly as automakers introduce additional models equipped with this type of technology. It’s still a ‘wait and see’ game out there, so with additional launches planned by several OEMs, it’s only going to help the ability to prove the value of owning a hybrid vehicle.”
Polk’s study also found that nearly 66 per cent of respondents do not agree that hybrid vehicles are a fad. “This is a good indicator of the market taking automakers seriously as the industry continues to test, improve and launch vehicles with dual sources of power generation,” said Miller.