Feb 062012

High Eco Car Prices

The primary question facing the eco-car industry today is: will a significantly large number of people actually buy hybrid and electric vehicles given the high retail prices and lack of recharging infrastructure?

Eco Cars only 3%

With sales of electric and hybrid vehicles in the US last year still representing only three per cent of all sales in the world’s biggest car market, it seems the industry still has a long way to go before green becomes mainstream. But new research suggests the future uptake of eco-cars is likely to rise exponentially.

Nissan Leaf - Eco Car

Nissan Leaf - Eco Car

Survey preferred Electric

In a new survey by the global accounting firm Deloitte, Generation Y, or those people born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, were found to hold a strong preference for ‘electrified’ vehicles over any other type. In fact, some 59 per cent of respondents identified electric vehicles as their preferred choice, a sign that the latest generation of car buyers is set to snap up cars like the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf. After all, these are people aged between 19 and 31 years old, or starting just above the legal driving age in most countries.

The studies were carried out in the USA, Western Europe and China, and were then collated. The figures don’t include other countries which are expected to hold a high propensity for buying electrified vehicles, such as Japan and Canada.

Hybrid over Electric

For supporters of a switch from petrol and diesel to cleaner sources of energy to power our automobiles, and the companies investing heavily in this technology, this all seems like excellent news. However, a closer look at the data provides a more worrying picture. Of the 59 per cent that favoured electric vehicles, almost all chose hybrids and very few selected fully electric vehicles (57 per cent versus just 2 per cent). Petrol-only vehicles got the nod by 37 per cent of respondents.

Fuel Efficiency Key

Fuel efficiency was found to be the main reason generation Y consumers would opt for a hybrid. Some 89 per cent said they would choose a vehicle with better mileage. And hybrid vehicles were identified as having proven to be reliable.

Gas Guzzlers Going

The results indicate what we are already starting to see in terms of a shift in the market and the state of current technology. Big gas guzzlers are being fazed out, even in America – the decline of the Hummer of the past five years is testament to this trend. Meanwhile, hybrids are becoming far more mainstream as more automakers bring out new vehicles that essentially look and feel the same as petrol or diesel cars, just with a higher initial investment yet much lower fuel and road tax costs once purchased.

Toyota Prius - Eco Car

Toyota Prius - Eco Car

Green if good enough

Fully electric vehicles are grappling with the interconnected problems of slow recharging times, a lack of recharging infrastructure, low battery range, low top speeds and a lack of interior space. These problems will take a while to iron out but there are already vast improvements on models that appeared five years ago. What this survey really says is that the future market will happily buy greener vehicles if they’re up to the job.

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