Inside the Minds of Alternative Fuel Vehicle Shoppers

by Jon LeSage, remar­ket­ing edi­tor at Auto­mo­tive Digest

Sales of plug-ins, hybrids, nat­ur­al gas vehi­cles, and oth­er alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cles (AFVs) are still com­par­a­tive­ly small when look­ing at over­all US new vehi­cle sales. Still, they’re grab­bing a lot of atten­tion from media and mar­ket­ing ana­lysts late­ly, espe­cial­ly if you add in diesel-engine vehi­cles. Here’s the lat­est cov­er­age on how car buy­ers are per­ceiv­ing AFVs……

Fol­low the mon­ey:  A recent sur­vey by AutoTrader.com says that the top rea­sons shop­pers would con­sid­er pur­chas­ing an AFV are less emo­tion­al and more prac­ti­cal, with three of the top five being relat­ed to sav­ing mon­ey. “Bet­ter fuel econ­o­my” came in first at 70%, fol­lowed by “Cost of sav­ings on gas” at 56%, “Clean­er emis­sions” at 37%, “Bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment” at 28% and “Fed­er­al Tax Cred­it” at 24%.

Lux­u­ry buy­ers: Phoenix International’s study on AFVs found that lux­u­ry SUV con­sumers and non-lux­u­ry car con­sumers have the most inter­est; hybrid and elec­tric vehi­cles are in the non-lux­u­ry car cat­e­go­ry, so there wasn’t a sur­prise there in the sur­vey find­ings. What about lux­u­ry SUVs? Diesel SUVs have been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty, which seems to have opened the door for car shop­pers to con­sid­er alter­na­tives. Phoenix Inter­na­tion­al finds it very inter­est­ing that Tes­la Motors is going after all of the lux­u­ry mar­ket by adding its upcom­ing Mod­el X – an elec­tric SUV – to its mod­el line­up next year.

As for brand­ing: In the Auto­Trad­er study, when asked which automak­ers they would iden­ti­fy as lead­ing in the space, Toy­ota came out on top with 48%, Hon­da came in sec­ond with 28% and Ford made the top three with 25%.

As for sub-brands: Green Car Reports made a very con­vinc­ing point that eco-mar­ket­ing sub-brands that automak­ers are using aren’t click­ing very well for name reten­tion. The arti­cle gives read­ers a test – to read a list of sub-brands for automak­er green tech­nol­o­gy offer­ings, then scan a list of automak­er brand names, and then accu­rate­ly con­nect the dots. Here’s the cor­rect answers: Blue­Ef­fi­cien­cy – Mer­cedes-Benz; Blue­Mo­tion – Volk­swa­gen; Dri­ve-E – Vol­vo; Earth­Dreams – Hon­da; Eco­Boost – Ford; EcoTec – GM; Effi­cient­Dy­nam­ics – BMW; Hybrid Syn­er­gy Dri­ve – Toy­ota; PureDrive – Nis­san; and Sky­Ac­tiv – Maz­da.

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