Shoppers Pass On Diesel, Hybrid Acceptance Continues to Grow

by | Jan 28, 2008

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The vast majority of in-market new-vehicle shoppers do not see diesel as a likely mainstream fuel source in the future, according to the latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study.The January 2008 results reveal that only six percent of shoppers think diesel is most likely to succeed in becoming a mainstream vehicle powertrain type, compared with 40 percent saying hybrids, 20 percent saying hydrogen fuel cell and 17 percent citing flexible-fuel systems.

Interest in diesels is steadily declining among in-market new-vehicle shoppers, while interest in hybrids continues to grow. The gap between shoppers’ interest in diesels versus hybrids has greatly widened particularly in the last month, with the nine-point gap in December 2007 jumping to a 17-point gap in January 2008. When asked about their perceptions of diesel engines, nearly half of in-market new-vehicle shoppers say they are dirty and noisy. In addition, the latest study shows that shoppers increasingly believe that diesel-powered vehicles get poorer fuel mileage than conventional gasoline engines, and fewer consumers are seeing diesels as fuel-efficient.

While diesel consideration and favorability are declining in the eyes of in-market new-vehicle shoppers, hybrids continue to gain favor. In addition to hybrids being seen as the most viable mainstream powertrain choice, interest in hybrids has steadily increased in recent months, with 61 percent of shoppers saying they are interested in hybrids in the latest study. When asked about the premium they are willing to pay for a gas/electric hybrid over a traditional gasoline-powered version of the same vehicle, this month shoppers are willing to pay an average premium of $3,135, up from an average premium of $2,645 a month ago in December 2007.

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When asked about which hybrid vehicles they would consider for their next purchase or lease in the latest study, in-market new-vehicle shoppers cite the Honda Civic as most popular with 35 percent. The next most-popular models are the Ford Escape and Toyota Highlander, each garnering 23 percent. Toward the bottom of the consideration list is the vehicle that arguably put hybrids on the mainstream map — the Toyota Prius — which only garnered 12 percent of the consideration.

The latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study was conducted on Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com among in-market new-vehicle shoppers during January 2008.

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