What Is the Most Popular Type of Gasoline-Alternative Vehicle?

Fuel Institute survey ranks technologies, purchasing factors

Published in CSP Daily News

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Fuel economy is the biggest deciding factor in purchasing a gasoline or non-gasoline vehicle. That's according to the latest consumer survey by the Fuels Institute, a non-partisan think tank founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) that evaluates market issues related to fuels.

It found that 84% of consumers said fuel economy was the top consideration in their gasoline vehicle purchase decision, followed by vehicle cost at 83%. This is despite the fact that more than one-half of consumers said they were most likely to buy an SUV or crossover vehicle.

The Fuels Institute said it believes this reflects the fact that consumers are comparing cost and fuel economy within the same vehicle class--SUV versus SUV, for example--as opposed to comparing different vehicle classes, such as SUV versus sedan.

For non-gas vehicles, just over 80% of consumers cited fuel economy as the most important attribute, with fuel price trailing at just over 60% and it being better for the environment ranked third at 52% for all respondents. Women were more interested in the green angle than men, with 58% of women selecting it as an important attribute, compared to 48% of men.

The least important attributes? Its impact on prestige/social status. Surprisingly, government incentives to help reduce the price of these non-gas vehicles ranked only fifth, with 38% interest. Among older drivers, however, it was more important, with 53% of those 50 years and older selecting it as important. The vehicle's actual price ranked fourth at around 50%.

The most popular gasoline-alternative technology was hybrid, selected by 84% of respondents, and about evenly represented across age and gender segments. More consumers were interested in electric, with 55% indicating interest in the technology, compared to only 37% from a 2012 survey. It was also the most popular among 18-to-34 year olds.

Flex-fuel vehicles (FFV), which can use high-ethanol blends such as E85 as well as conventional E10, ranked third, with 52% of gasoline consumers saying they would consider the technology for their next vehicle purchase. Consumers in the Midwest and South were the most favorable to FFVs.

Diesel ranked fourth among consumers at only 30%, with men more likely to consider the technology. Meanwhile, 22% of gasoline consumers said they would consider "other alternatives" such as propane or natural gas. (NACS did not ask consumers about their interest in hydrogen because that market is still in its infancy.)

For a complete summary of results, click here.