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Green-Car Disconnect: Unrealistic Expectations, Tight Wallets

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2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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If you've been following news about the latest green cars—either here at TheCarConnection.com or at our companion site http://www.greencarreports.com/—you're likely aware that the technology doesn't come cheap. Plug-in electric vehicles, EVs, and even clean-diesel vehicles are all likely to cost quite a bit more than their gasoline equivalents. With the 2011 Chevrolet Volt expected to approach $40k, even after federal incentives knock the price down significantly it will still be more costly than the average new car and well out of reach of a lot of buyers who would really rather go green.

And to a related point, expectations of green-vehicle shoppers can often be unrealistic, whether it comes to expecting boast-worthy, small-car mileage figures out of a full-size hybrid SUV or forgetting that, to use an EV or plug-in (ideally), you'll need somewhere to plug in.

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

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AutoPacific analyst Jim Hossack says that just as 98 percent of Dodge Viper owners counter-intuitively ask for more performance among the top things they'd want to change about their vehicle, owners of green vehicles are zealots for ever-higher mileage numbers and want the bragging rights they provide. "They want a really big number," he says, otherwise they tend to dismiss the vehicle as not worth as much. And the Prius sits as a sort of gold standard that mpg-minded green shoppers will inevitably weigh vehicles against regardless of size or performance.

Some worrisome results of a study released last week only serve to emphasize that point, concluding that a significant portion of green-car shoppers have unrealistic expectations for pricing for these vehicles, expecting more…for less.

According to data, from the California-based market-research firm AutoPacific, a modest segment of those considering hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure EVs (10, 17, and 19 percent, respectively) agreed with the statement, "I am prepared to pay a higher price for an environmentally friendly vehicle," yet when asked about price expectations, they plan to pay, typically, $2,000 to $5,000 less than those considering gasoline vehicles.

When asked independently how much they'd pay for a next gasoline vehicle, the average price was around $30,000; for hybrids it was a bit lower, at $28,000; and for EVs the average expected price was nearly $25,000.

It's from a study called "Green Cars and Consumers, Planninig for a Changing Market," and includes survey responses from more than 32,000 owners and those considering gas, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, pure electric, and clean-diesel light vehicles.

A smaller study from Pike Research earlier this year—covering just over 1,000 consumers—found that 65 percent were willing to pay a premium price for a plug-in EV, but on average that premium was just 12 percent over the price of a standard gasoline vehicle. That's a price point met today by some hybrid models, but plug-ins are expected to ring in at much higher prices.

2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept

2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept

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"Finding buyers for these vehicles will not be like the early run we saw for the Toyota Prius," cautioned AutoPacific, in a release accompanying its study results, noting the importance of honing in on certain market demographics that might be truly willing to foot the additional cost of these vehicles.

[AutoPacific]

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Comment (1)
  1. Who cares about "green" cars anymore, haven't you heard that the whole global warming thing has been debunked as a money making hoax? The reason the prices are so high for this junk is that's what "they" want you to "feel" it is worth to save your planet. Well let them know that you are tired of paying for them to fool you over the last few decades and DON'T buy there garbage anymore!
     
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