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Are Car Shoppers Ready to Go Green?

Posted: Apr 27, 2011 10:54 a.m.

Owning a hybrid vehicle has two benefits: they’re generally better for the environment and use less fuel. But with gas prices on the rise, consumers are more concerned with fuel efficiency than their automobile’s greenness.

A recent study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates shows that cost matters to most people more than the environment. However, hybrid and electric vehicles cost more, so few consumers were likely to buy one. “While consumers often cite saving money on fuel as the primary benefit of owning an alternative powertrain vehicle, the reality for many is that the initial cost of these vehicles is too high, even as fuel prices in the United States approach record levels,” states J.D. Power in a press release. “Reduced expenditure on fuel is the predominant benefit cited by considerers for each of the primary alternative powertrain technologies examined in the study.”

It’s a valid point. As an example, the 2011 Ford Fusion hybrid costs $8,585 more than the base, non-hybrid Fusion. Using a regular gas price of $3.79, the EPA estimates that the base Fusion’s annual fuel cost is $2,189 vs. the Hybrid’s $1,455. That’s a difference of $734 per year, which certainly isn’t chump change, but you’d have to own the Fusion Hybrid over 11 and a half years for that fuel savings to pay off.

Research was not limited solely to hybrid and electric vehicles, however. “The study examined attitudes of American consumers toward the four principal alternative-powertrain technologies: hybrid, clean diesel, plug-in hybrid and purely electric,” writes the New York Times. “The primary research included a study conducted in February of more than 4,000 consumers who said they would be shopping for a new vehicle within the next one to five years.”