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Shoppers Pass On Diesel, Hybrid Acceptance Continues to Grow

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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2 thoughts on “Shoppers Pass On Diesel, Hybrid Acceptance Continues to Grow

  1. The issue is more one a matter of availability and recognition than fuel concerns as supposed by the survey sooth-sayers. When the 7th largest economy in the world, that would be California as a stand-alone entity, has ZERO access to passenger vehicles powered by clean-tech diesel engines than it is no wonder survey respondents select hybrids or long for fuel cells and hydrogen power (not likely in near future at a reasonable price point) and pass on diesels. They are NOT AVAILABLE in CA and several other states that follow the CA emission standards.

    So those people residing in CA must select passenger cars that rate 30 – 33 mpg instead of 40 to 50 mpg that the same vehicles are capable of achieving in EU trim with not one but many of the available diesel and turbo-diesel engines that with the new clean-tech afterburners, scrubbers, or urea agents meet and exceed ALL 2010 emission standards today.

    Several third-party test labs and watchdog organizations have verified that the minimal (often 500 to 1,000 dollar) price increase for diesel engines is offset in less than one-year of normal driving where it is a long stretch to make a hybrid break-even in less than five to seven years. Oh and watch out if you are a person who pays the AMT – any tax credit you thought you would get for a hybrid goes right out the window.

    Show that fact to potential buyers – that they will not receive the large tax credit they planned on and watch the choice change.

    JP

  2. I’m surprised by this study since the number of diesel passenger vehicle registrations grew 80% from 2000 to 2005. With several manufacturers offering new clean diesels this year and nextthat meet California’s tighter emissions standards, this increase is sure to continue. Certainly there is more education that must be done to increase awareness of diesels’ 20-40% better fuel efficiency, 20% fewer CO2 emissions and 2-3 times better resale value – however as more Americans realize these differences, we will see results very different from those reflected here.

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