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July 16, 2008

US Automobile Buyers Want Advancements in Alternative Powertrain Technology: J.D. Power and Associates

Small Cars and Hybrids Lead the Automotive Environmental Index Top 30.

Smart Fortwo

Photo: Smart Fortwo

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According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Alternative Powertrain Study released today, while most automotive manufacturers have shifted production to focus on smaller vehicles, nearly 70 percent of consumers say they want manufacturers to invest more in existing and emerging powertrain technologies.

Lexus RX Hybrid

Photo: Lexus RX Hybrid

Now in its third year, the Alternative Powertrain Study examines the reasons why consumers consider or avoid alternative powertrain vehicles, such as hybrid, flex fuel and clean diesel fuel models. The study includes the Automotive Environmental Index, which combines U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publicly available information related to fuel economy, air pollution and greenhouse gases for 2008 model-year vehicles and J.D. Power and Associates' voice of the customer data related to stated fuel economy. Feedback from verified vehicle owners is also used to help determine the relative importance of these environmental factors.

2008 Nissan Sentra

Photo: 2008 Nissan Sentra

The study finds that more than 80 percent of consumers believe that the United States is currently faced with an energy crisis. Only 18 percent of these consumers believe this issue can be addressed by focusing on small vehicle production with better fuel economy. Approximately 30 percent of consumers believe that auto manufacturers should continue to produce a comparable vehicle lineup with a focus on hybrid-electric, clean diesel and flexible fuel vehicles, while an additional 39 percent believe manufacturers should focus on developing emerging technologies not currently available in the market, such as fuel cell and electric vehicles.

2009 Honda Fit Sport

Photo: 2009 Honda Fit Sport

2009 Ford Focus RS

Photo: 2009 Ford Focus RS

"Nearly 80 percent of consumers believe that gas prices will continue to rise, which will have a significant effect on the vehicles they will consider," said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, some consumers still want more than small cars to choose from in the auto market. They still want their SUVs and pickup trucks, except with better fuel economy and more environmentally friendly."

The study also finds that the percentage of consumers who are considering a hybrid-electric vehicle is up from 50 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2008. Consideration for flexible fuel (E85) capable vehicles -- which are designed to run on gasoline or a blend of up to 85 percent ethanol -- has decreased slightly from 2007 (47% vs. 43% in 2008), while consideration for clean diesel demonstrated the most notable decline from 23 percent in 2007 to only 16 percent in 2008. The drop in consideration for diesel technology may be attributed to the substantial increase in the relative price of diesel since 2007.

2009 Saturn Astra XR 3-door

Photo: 2009 Saturn Astra XR 3-door

2009 Pontiac G5 GT

Photo: 2009 Pontiac G5 GT

Among the top 30 models in the Automotive Environmental Index, Toyota has the highest number of vehicles (6), followed by Chevrolet, Honda and Nissan with three models each. Additionally, eight models in the Automotive Environmental Index top 30 are hybrid-electric vehicles. They are:

Ford Escape Hybrid
Nissan Altima Hybrid
Honda Civic Hybrid
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Lexus RX 400h
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Toyota Prius

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Coupe

Photo: 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Coupe

2008 Chevrolet Aveo LT

Photo: 2008 Chevrolet Aveo LT

The remaining models in the Top 30 Automotive Environmental Index are:

Chevrolet Aveo
Hyundai Accent
Nissan Sentra
Smart Fortwo Coupe
Chevrolet Aveo5
Hyundai Elantra
Nissan Versa
Toyota Corolla
Chevrolet Cobalt
Kia Rio
Pontiac G5
Toyota Matrix
Ford Focus
Kia Spectra
Pontiac Vibe
Toyota Yaris
Honda Civic
MINI Cooper
Saturn Astra
Honda Fit
MINI Cooper S
Smart Fortwo Convertible

The 2008 Alternative Powertrain Study includes responses from more than 4,000 consumers who plan to purchase a new vehicle within the next two years. The web-based study was fielded in May and June 2008. The voice of the customer components of the Automotive Environmental Index are derived from the 2008 Alternative Powertrain Study and the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Initial Quality Study.

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 10:06 AM | Link to this Post

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