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 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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