Consumers Get Real About Hybrid Fuel Economy Numbers

Toyota, Honda, Ford and Nissan Have the Most Models in the Top 30 of the Automotive Environmental Index.

Published: 17-Jul-2007

As consumers become more realistic about the fuel efficiency capabilities of hybrid vehicles, the percentage of new-vehicle shoppers who are considering a hybrid has declined, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Alternative Powertrain Study(SM) released today.

Now in its second year, the Alternative Powertrain Study examines the reasons why consumers consider or avoid alternative powertrain vehicles. The study includes the Automotive Environmental Index, which combines U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publicly available information data related to fuel economy, air pollution and greenhouse gases for 2007 model-year vehicles and J.D. Power and Associates' voice of the customer data related to stated fuel economy. Voice of the customer data is also used to help determine the relative importance of these environmental factors.

The study finds that 50 percent of new-vehicle shoppers are considering a hybrid -- down from 57 percent in the 2006 study. While a general decline can be observed across all age groups, in particular younger vehicle shoppers, those 16 to 25 years old, appear less interested in the powertrain technology, with 60 percent considering a hybrid in 2007, down from 73 percent in 2006. The average additional price hybrid considerers are willing to pay for this powertrain is $2,396, with the expectation of receiving an improvement of 18.5 miles per gallon (MPG) over a traditional vehicle of similar size.

"In the 2006 study, we found consumers often overestimated the fuel efficiency of hybrid-electric vehicles, and the decrease in consideration of hybrids in 2007 may be a result of their more realistic understanding of the actual fuel economy capabilities," said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. "While hybrid sales are steadily increasing, they continue to face competition for market share against an increasing offering of other alternative powertrains and fuels options."

The study also finds that consumer consideration for purchasing clean diesel vehicles, which were newly introduced to the market in 2007, is at 23 percent. In 2006, only 12 percent of shoppers considered purchasing diesel vehicles. On average, considerers of this powertrain are willing to pay an additional $1,491 for the clean diesel option and expect an average additional fuel economy of 15 mpg.

"As the automotive industry steadily offers more alternative powertrain/fuel options to consumers, buyer preferences will continue to shift the market in the coming years," said Marshall. "With high fuel prices, perceived dependency on foreign oil and an increased focus on environmental issues all being top of mind among consumers, manufacturers will not only have to continuously make efforts to produce more fuel efficient vehicles, but also to diversify the range of options."

Toyota is the highest-ranking nameplate in the Automotive Environmental Index, followed by Volkswagen and Honda, respectively. Toyota has improved by six rank positions since the 2006 study and has a strong showing with both hybrid and gasoline-powered models. Honda also performs well, with four models in the top 30. Ford and Nissan follow, each with three models. Similar to 2006 results, there are only two luxury models in the top 30; the Lexus GS 450h and RX 400h.

In 2007, the top 30 Automotive Environmental Index includes 10 hybrid models -- up from eight models in 2006:

   Ford Escape Hybrid  Mercury Mariner Hybrid
   Honda Accord Hybrid                Saturn VUE Green Line
   Honda Civic Hybrid  Toyota Camry Hybrid
   Lexus GS 450h       Toyota Highlander Hybrid
   Lexus RX 400h       Toyota Prius

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

    Chevrolet Aveo        Honda Fit          Mazda3            Pontiac Vibe
    Chevrolet Aveo5       Hyundai Accent     MINI Cooper       Toyota Corolla Convertible
    Ford Focus            Hyundai Elantra    Nissan Altima     Toyota Matrix
    Ford Focus
    Station Wagon         Kia Rio            Nissan Sentra     Toyota Yaris
    Honda Civic           Kia Spectra        Nissan Versa      Volkswagen New Beetle

The 2007 Alternative Powertrain Study includes responses from more than 4,000 consumers in May and June 2007 who plan to purchase a new vehicle within the next two years. The voice of the customer components of the Automotive Environmental Index are derived from the 2007 Alternative Powertrain Study and the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Initial Quality Study(SM). Find more detailed findings on new-vehicle fuel efficiency as well as model photos and specs by reading an article or reviewing the green efficiency ratings at JDPower.com.

Automotive Environmental Index: Top 30 Models

    Chevrolet     Mercury
    * Aveo        * Mariner Hybrid
    * Aveo5
              	  MINI
    			  * Cooper Convertible
	Ford          
    * Escape Hybrid
    * Focus       
    * Focus Station Wagon 
	 
	Nissan      
   * Altima
   * Sentra
   * Versa 
    
	Honda        
    * Accord Hybrid
    * Civic       
    * Civic Hybrid              
    * Fit
	
    Pontiac  
	 * Vibe
	            
	Saturn
	* VUE Green Line
	
    Hyundai       
    * Accent
    * Elantra     
	
	Toyota
     * Camry Hybrid
	 * Corolla
	 * Highlander Hybrid
	 * Matrix   
	 * Prius
	 * Yaris  
	         
    Kia           
    * Rio       
    * Spectra     
                  
    Lexus         
    * GS 450h
    * RX 400h     Volkswagen
                  * New Beetle
    Mazda
    * Mazda3

    Automotive Environmental Index Nameplate Ranking
    (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

    Toyota                678
    Volkswagen            664
    Honda                 644
    Kia    642
    Mazda                 636
    Hyundai               622
    Pontiac               605
    Saturn                601
    Suzuki                599
    Subaru                582
    Nissan                572
    Mitsubishi            567
    Audi                  552
    Industry Average      549
    Lexus                 542
    Buick                 528
    BMW    524
    Saab                  521
    Mercury               505
    Acura                 501
    Volvo                 497
    Isuzu                 495
    Porsche               487
    Ford                  485
    Chrysler              484
    Jaguar                482
    Infiniti              460
    Mercedes-Benz         456
    Dodge                 453
    Chevrolet             431
    Lincoln               428
    Jeep                  415
    Cadillac              370
    Land Rover            323
    GMC    309

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