Advocacy Group Says That Fuel Economy Is America's #1 Criteria When Shopping For A New Car

October 20, 2014

When you're looking for a new car, there are lots of factors to consider: how the car looks, how comfortable the ride is, its high-tech amenities, the number of cup-holders.

But according to a new study from the American Chemistry Council, the thing at the top of most shopper's must-have list is good fuel-economy.

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To uncover that fact, the ACC partnered with research firm Kelton Global, which polled 1,014 U.S. adults about a number of things related to cars and car-shopping. Major takeaways from the firm's survey include:

  • 79% of respondents said that fuel efficiency was more important than most other factors when shopping for a new car, even outranking safety features and price.
  • 72% of respondents said that fuel efficiency is more important now than it was five years ago.
  • 37% of respondents said that they'd driven out of their way to purchase cheaper gas.

Which is all very interesting, if not terribly surprising.

But why would the ACC fund a study about cars and fuel economy? Consider this quote from the Council's vice president, Steve Russell:

"What many car buyers don't realize is that lighter materials place less of a strain on a car's engine and improve gas mileage. For many of today's cars, plastics make up 50 percent by volume—but only 10 percent by weight, which is great news for Americans concerned about paying too much at the pump."

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Then consider the ACC's other survey partner -- Plastics Make It Possible -- and everything becomes clear. Like many studies that cross our desks, this one is designed to yield results that the ACC can use to educate consumers and lobby elected officials. In this particular instance, those results give the ACC ammunition to advocate for increased production of plastics and increased adoption of plastic elements in new vehicles.

That doesn't necessarily invalidate the survey. In fact, we've seen some of this data before, and it's come from very reputable organizations. 

Like any facts and figures tossed around by advocacy groups, though, it requires that we consider the source.

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