Nearly Half Of America Interested In Alt Fuel Vehicles, 71% Don't Know What They're Looking For

October 8, 2010

If you're an American, odds are pretty good that your car runs on gasoline. The chance that your next car will be gas-powered, however, isn't such a sure thing. According to a new study commissioned by Mercedes-Benz, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. are interested in alternative fuel vehicles, but the vast majority know little or nothing about the technologies they use or the ride that's right for them.  

The study was conducted in July of this year by Harris Interactive, and it included responses from 2,242 adults 18 and older. When the dust had settled, Harris and Mercedes found that 48% of Americans are interested in alternative fuel rides, including hybrids, diesels, plug-in EVs, and fuel cell vehicles. Unfortunately, most of those surveyed -- a whopping 71% -- freely admit that they're clueless (or mostly clueless) about the differences in those technologies and about which would be the best choice for a person in their situation.

That means only 29% of Americans feel knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about alt fuel vehicles. According to the study, more people say they understand the global financial crisis (34%). Ouch.

Of course, if you're a regular reader here, we're guessing (okay, hoping) that you fall into the 29%. If so, feel free to peruse the study's official press release below and laugh haughtily.

If not, might we suggest regular visits to All Cars Electric or Green Car Reports? In a pinch, you could also skim Mercedes' handy microsite, which walks consumers through the various alternative technologies using its own vehicles as examples. Either way, let's try to beef up those stats before the next survey rolls through.

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New Survey Finds Majority of Americans Are Confused About Alternative Fuel Options

MONTVALE, N.J., Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- For 50 years, Americans focused on things like horsepower, color, and design when deciding which car to buy. Today, that decision includes even more mystifying choices, including how the vehicle is powered – Is it a hybrid? Is it electric? Does it take regular gasoline or diesel fuel? A new survey from Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) conducted online in July 2010 by Harris Interactive suggests that Americans are having a hard time figuring out what to make of all these choices, and as a result, many are holding off on purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV).

The survey found that nearly one in two adults (48%) would be interested in purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle but are not sure about what type to get (e.g., hybrid, electric, diesel) and only about one in three (35%) say they know which types of AFVs are best for various driving situations (e.g., city, suburban, highway).  In fact, more adults claim to be knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about the causes of the global financial crisis, the difference between good and bad cholesterol and the amount of oil that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, than they are about the difference between various types of alternative fuel vehicles.

"The end game is zero-emissions driving that doesn't simply transfer the problem.  And, while that is still in the future, each alternative fuel vehicle we introduce is a step in that direction, providing key findings and helping acclimate consumers to new technology," said Sascha Simon, head of advanced product planning at Mercedes-Benz USA. "Our goal at Mercedes-Benz is to provide a portfolio of options for our customers so they can choose the vehicle that best suits their lifestyle and to further the understanding and, ultimately, the adoption rate for these new technologies."  

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