Pavilion Study: Drivers Lack Basic Understanding of Biofuel

by | Jan 23, 2007

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Despite a surge in production and government support, only five percent of adult drivers in the U.S. currently use biofuels such as an ethanol-blend fuel or biodiesel, according to results of a newly released consumer survey commissioned by Pavilion Technologies and conducted by Harris Interactive.

The survey found that not only do drivers lack awareness about biofuels, many are misinformed on the subject. Forty-four percent of drivers agreed that they do not understand the difference between biofuels and conventional gasoline. One in four drivers who do not use a biofuel indicated that they do not know what it is. The overall survey results suggest that many consumers are not aware that ethanol is cheaper and better for the environment than traditional gasoline and that many cars on the road today can run on ethanol blends without modification.

“There has been tremendous innovation within the ethanol industry and manufacturers are using leading-edge technologies to produce more energy-efficient ethanol than ever before,” said Matt Tormollen, chief marketing officer, Pavilion Technologies. “The results of this survey demonstrate the critical need to make consumers aware of the benefits of ethanolA?AA¢AA¢aAA¬AA¢a?A¬?and then to actually make those alternatives availableA?AA¢AA¢aAA¬AA¢a?A¬?in order to ensure the new supply meets demand at the local pump.”

The survey found that:

  • Fifty-seven percent of drivers are not sure whether biofuels are more, less, or equally as expensive as traditional gasoline or diesel fuel.
  • Fifty-seven percent of drivers who do not use a biofuel say it is because they do not think their car can run on it.
  • Forty-seven percent of drivers who do not use biofuels say they do not know where to buy them.
  • Of drivers who currently do not use biofuels, the overwhelming majority (95percent) indicated that they could be encouraged to make the switch. When asked what would encourage them to start using a biofuel in their vehicle, the most common response (72 percent) was a lower price than conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. Convenience was the second most cited response, as about six in ten (61 percent) said that they would switch to biofuels if they were sold at their local gas station. However, proximity is critical: 63 percent of drivers overall indicated that they would not be willing to drive farther to a gas station that sells biofuels.
  • Drivers who do not currently use biofuels also weighed in with a variety of other responses, most notably: 59 percent cited the desire to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and 48 percent would switch if they were offered a tax credit or other financial incentive from the government. In addition, despite the fact that three out of four drivers agreed that they typically opt for the cheapest solution when purchasing fuel, 47% indicated that they would pay a premium price for biofuels if they were proven to be better for the environment than conventional gasoline.

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