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Economy beats ecology, say buyers

Green perception: Toyota tops hybrid car perception survey.

Aussie motorists want good fuel economy – but only if it costs no more

General News logo28 Jun 2010

AUSTRALIAN motorists are overwhelmingly more concerned about their hip pocket than they are about buying cars that are good for the environment, saying feel-good ecological factors take second place behind cost of ownership.

A recent survey of people intending to buy a new car in the next four years, by market research firm Colmar Brunton, found that the environment barely rated when asked to choose between good fuel economy and an environmentally-friendly car.

The survey of buyer attitudes to hybrid cars asked potential buyers what they thought about the relative importance of “a car with good fuel economy” and a car that “is good for the environment”.

A massive 81 per cent nominated good fuel economy and just 11 per cent nominated the environment. Seven per cent said neither was more important.

Asked if they would seriously consider buying a hybrid car, 43 per cent said yes, 19 per cent said no but a large 38 per cent were undecided. This indicates there is a big body of cars buyers who are open to be convinced on the virtues of hybrid car ownership.

 center imageAccount director at Colmar Brunton, Ben Pilkington, told GoAuto that with hybrid vehicles accounting for less than one per cent of vehicle sales in Australia the figure of 43 per cent of buyers prepared to consider a hybrid “represents a huge gap in potential demand and mainstream product availability”.

Colmar Brunton also tested whether affordability was a factor. The survey asked those who had said no or said they were undecided about considering a hybrid whether they would consider buying a hybrid “if prices were similar to petrol cars”.

Suddenly, 47 per cent of people in that group said that they would reconsider buying a hybrid if the prices were the same as a petrol car.

When asked which brands buyers trusted to make reliable hybrid cars in the future (with the results adjusted for market share) the first mover advantage of Toyota and Honda tipped consumer perception their way.

Buyers also expected BMW and Audi to take a lead in reliable hybrids, but had less confidence in Mercedes-Benz. Lexus, in spite of having high-profile hybrid models on sale in Australia, was further behind.

Mazda, Holden, Ford and Volkswagen were ahead of Mitsubishi and Subaru and Nissan, Hyundai and Suzuki did not rate well.

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