2011 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
2010 Hummer H3TEnlarge Photo
But you couldn't give Volt away to 45 percent.
The survey results, from the market-research firm Synovate, suggest that more Americans are interested in the new direction of GM, as symbolized by the Volt, than the old GM, as symbolized by the HUMMER H3. And while these results are a good sign for the Volt, they still represent how polarized the public is about vehicles like the Volt, as well as automakers' challenges in making green cars desirable.
The survey comes at a time when some of the bitterness over the bailout has started to fade; it's been well over a year since General Motors emerged from bankruptcy—and we're approaching the new company's IPO.
H3 desirable, even from a dead brand
That HUMMER is now a dead brand, like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Saturn, didn't seem to have much of an effect. GM was never able to find a buyer for Hummer and phased the brand out earlier this year.
Synovate asked: "Assume that you entered a contest and won the grand prize, where you got to pick between two new vehicles: Chevrolet Volt or Hummer H3. Keep in mind that the retail price for both vehicles is about the same. Which vehicle would you choose as your grand prize?" The question was included in the firm's weekly Omnibus survey.
Volt wins, but lots of Americans wouldn't take it for free
Overall, 55 percent selected the Volt while just 30 percent chose the HUMMER. Fifteen percent said they wouldn't take either, and 45 percent said that they wouldn't take a plug-in hybrid like the Volt even as a giveaway.
Oddly, younger respondents chose the H3 much more frequently than those in other age groups—with about 43 percent of those age 18-24 choosing the HUMMER versus those age. Looking closer, people were more likely to select the H3 for its aesthetic appeal or because it fit their needs, while they were more likely to choose the Volt for its cost or value advantage, or for its fuel efficiency.
A well-equipped 2010 HUMMER H3 Alpha (yes, there were a few 2010s), totaled around $42k—roughly the same as the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.
How many "gotta have it" hybrids and plug-ins are there?
The survey isn't altogether serious, but it does underline an important point: that most green vehicles—including, we add, new sporty hybrids like the 2011 Honda CR-Z and 2011 Lexus CT 200h—just don't hit trigger those "gotta have it" enthusiast urges the way that sports cars and some of the burliest, most iconic SUVs have.
Synovate suggests that it comes down to desire versus practicality.
"Obviously, we're trying to have a little fun with this question," explains Synovate Motoresearch Vice President, Andy Bedsworth, "but the results do reflect an overall truth about the current green vehicle market; they don't fit the definition of many consumers' dream vehicle. Are they practical, politically correct, the way of the future? Sure. Do they get your blood pumping any faster? Not really."