Yes, green cars are slowly appealing to Americans

Is the green car revolution finally starting to take hold?

It is quite possible, at least according to a recent Harris Poll survey which finds “automakers are starting to win over consumer confidence in hybrid vehicles, especially with younger drivers.”

Harris found in this poll one-third of car owners (32%) report they have an interest in purchasing a hybrid vehicle and 23% say that their interest in hybrids has increased from a year ago. 

That doesn’t mean though that we can expect hybrids to be thick on the roads all around the country all of the sudden, as traditional combustion engine vehicles still get the nod by more than half (59%) of consumers as a vehicle choice.

Despite this, the numbers do indicate solid reasons for the increase in interest in hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicle ownership. 55 percent indicated an interest because they simply wanted to save money on the cost of fuel purchases, which as of when this story published averages $3.67 a gallon across the nation, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A smaller number, 26 percent, indicated interest because of environmental reasons.

Playing a huge factor into who is buying greener cars is age, according to Harris. While nearly one-third (32%) of those under 35 years are more interested than they were a year ago, the same can be said for only 15% of those over the age of 67. In fact, it was noted, 11% of those 67 and older report they are less interested compared to one year ago.

In terms of the choice being hybrid or other green car options like electric, hybrid continues to be the far and away choice. More than a quarter said something like the Toyota Prius would be their first choice in the alternative fuel vehicles segment, while just one in ten say they would consider diesel (11%) or all electric (9%) automobiles for their next purchase. Almost two-thirds (63%) report that they, in fact, said Harris, are not likely to consider diesel or all electric options at all for their next car purchase.

One thing which does impact what type of green car will be chosen is perceptions of the time frames needed to offset the premium of purchasing the alternative powertrain option. Harris noted here that “32% of consumers expect that flexible fuel vehicles will see a return on investment in under a year. This compares to 14% for pure electric engines and 7% for clean diesel.”

And, finally, perceptions still continue to abound that American cars, green or not, are inferior to those from other countries. More than one-third (35%) of car owners, according to Harris, say they find the vehicle quality of American brands to be lower than imports. Just under a quarter of car owners (24%) find American-brand vehicle quality to be better than imports, by comparison.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling