|Study shows strong consumer consideration for Flex Fuel Vehicles including E85 Plug-in hybrids peak interest
16 August 2006
DETROIT — A new study by global market research company Synovate shows that 37% of US consumers would consider purchasing a Flex Fuel vehicle that runs on gasoline or E85 (85% Ethanol) the next time they are in
the market to buy a car. However, more than a third of these same consumers lose interest in E85 Flex Fuel vehicles when they learn that there is a reduction in fuel economy.
This information came from Synovate's latest semi-annual survey of consumer attitudes toward advanced propulsion and alternative fuel vehicles.
"It certainly appears as if consumers have bought into the appeal of a Flex
Fuel vehicle that can run on either gasoline or E85," explained Scott Miller,
CEO of Synovate Motoresearch. "However, consumers also are largely
unaware that they will experience a 25% loss in fuel economy when the
vehicle is running on Ethanol. While we really don't expect this reality to
impact sales of Flex Fuel vehicles, it will generate disappointment among
enthusiastic buyers. It also means that E85 will have to retain a substantially
lower price per gallon over gasoline for it to have any impact on
The study, conducted among 1,240 buyers and those intending to buy new
light duty cars and trucks, also found that while awareness of hybrids is now
very high among US consumers, consideration of a hybrid vehicle has
flattened at just under 50%.
The biggest surprise in the study was the high consideration of gridconnected
or "plug-in" hybrids. Familiarity with the technology is currently
low but, after hearing an explanation of a grid-connected hybrid, 49% of
consumers said they would consider purchasing one, roughly the same level
of consideration as standard hybrid technology.
Grid-connected hybrids offer some unique advantages to consumers.
According to Tim Englehart, Manager of Alternative Fuels Studies at Synovate
Motoresearch, "Plugging the vehicle in at home means fewer trips to the gas
station and lower operating costs. The unknown with this technology is the
additional purchase cost. However, there is a considerable group of
consumers who are willing to pay to get these unique benefits. It would also
be an excellent way to transfer some of the country's dependence on oil to
the national resources we use to power the electric power grid. We believe
it's something to watch."
Diesel technology is a hot topic in the US and another focus of the Synovatestudy. Consideration among US consumers remains low at roughly half the
consideration of hybrids. However, Miller says the numbers can be
misleading. "The story around diesels is not the percent of US consumers
who will consider it, just those who are very interested. Our data give us
strong reason to believe that if manufacturers can meet the emissions
requirements of the new diesel legislation, some are going to surprise the
market with the products they introduce and the buyers to whom those
Contact for this press release
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
222 South Riverside Plaza Tel: +1 312-526-4359
Chicago, IL 60606-5809 Fax: +1 312-526-4507
Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc, generates consumer insights
that drive competitive marketing solutions. The network provides clients with
cohesive global support and a comprehensive suite of research solutions. Synovate
employs over 5,500 staff in 108 cities across 50 countries.
For more information on Synovate visit www.synovate.com.
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