Toyota Prius Plug-InEnlarge Photo
One of the hard realities of considering some of the greenest advance-technology vehicles like hybrids or electric cars is that they almost always come with higher price tags.
And, as J.D. Power and Associates found in its 2011 Green Automotive Study, now that worries about hybrid performance and reliability have been eased, pricing has become a primary issue that's keeping more people from considering them—even as fuel prices climb.
Even hybrid shoppers think more about fuel cost than carbon footprint
Power points out that while buyers are aware of the environmental benefits of hybrid models like the Prius, their lower fuel costs are considered far more often; 75 percent of prospective buyers pointed to the lower fuel costs as a main benefit while only 50 percent cited the environmental benefits as primary.
The results for Power's survey are based on responses from more than 4,000 consumers who had indicated that they'd be in the market for a new vehicle within one to five years.
While hybrids have been around for more than a decade, very few hybrid models could be called sales successes—and no other model has come close to the three-million worldwide sales and one-million U.S. sales of the Toyota Prius. Other established hybrid models, such as the Honda Insight, Honda Civic Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Ford Fusion hybrid, have remained models with niche appeal.
Limitations will keep advanced powertrains out of the mainstream?
Among other interesting study findings/projections: Range anxiety and functional concerns will limit consideration more than the price premiums for electric cars; and clean diesel will stay a relatively small portion of the market.
"While consumers often cite saving money on fuel as the primary benefit of owning an alternative powertrain vehicle, the reality for many is that the initial cost of these vehicles is too high, even as fuel prices in the United States approach record levels," says the firm in a release accompanying the results.