All about the green (money, and environment)
The leading story since spring of 2010 has been the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You couldn't turn-on a TV, open a newspaper, or launch a web browser without being bombarded with oil spill coverage. When we asked if the Gulf oil spill has impacted the likelihood of purchasing a green vehicle, a 58% majority claimed that the spill had no influence on considering green vehicles. The Gulf Oil Spill is driving only 7% of consumers to choose an alternative fuel vehicle as their next purchase, and 13% to 'seriously consider.' 23% did report the oil spill might have an impact on their vehicle selection.
Surprising as this may seem, when we asked the main reason for considering a green vehicle, 51% responded that saving money is most important. 'Reducing dependence on foreign oil' (22%) ranked second, while 'the environment' ranked next to last at 17%. This sheds light on the Gulf oil spill question. If buyer is more interested in saving money, the oil spill wouldn't have an impact on their vehicle purchase decisions. 39% is not an insignificant number though, so it's clear that saving money and the environment are key factors for consumers considering a green vehicle.
Considering fuel price sensitivity, 33% of respondents reported that when fuel prices reach $3.50 per gallon, they would be much more likely to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle. This is interesting to note because as of writing this, the average price of fuel in the United States is $2.78 per gallon. Prices need to climb less than one dollar per gallon for fuel to become a major factor in considering an alternative fuel vehicle. Gas prices are truly a hot-button issue, with nearly 80% of respondents report gas prices having an impact on vehicle purchase decisions.
The bright spot for the green car industry was revealed in asking about purchasing time frames. When asked when you would be most likely to consider buying a green vehicle, 55% responded they are considering a green vehicle within the next 12 months, with 16% 'seriously' considering, and 9% 'definitely considering.' Extended out to two- or five-years, 75% reported that they either intend to purchase (20%) or might consider purchasing (55%) a green vehicle. Notably, only 8% ruled it out completely. The weak economy could have something to do with this trend, though as consumers become more aware of green car technology, and more appealing options become available, the green space will only strengthen with consideration.
Simple technology favored (for now)
Hybrids and high-mpg gas vehicles still top the list with 52% of consumers, and Hybrids most preferred. Electric plug-ins (in spite of all the publicity) and fuel cells barely make a dent, at 11% and 9% respectively. And consumers aren't predicting the demise of gas-powered vehicles any time soon. Only 10% think the average American will be driving a non-gasoline vehicle within the next five years.
The vast majority don't forecast the death of the gas-powered vehicle for at least 10 or 15 years and well beyond, or at all. As electric plug-in options become more readily available, and the cost of entry starts to decrease, count on a rise in popularity. Being in the early adopter phase at best, it's no surprise that electric vehicles aren't highly favored, but with cubic marketing dollars being spent by Nissan for the Leaf and Chevrolet for the Volt, it won't be long before consumer awareness is higher.
Emerging "Generation Green"
Sub 25-year-olds may soon be known as Generation Green. We found in our study that seventy-three percent of respondents under age 25 are actively considering a green vehicle purchase within the next twelve months (versus 56% for those over 25). Under 25s were also much more likely to be influenced by the gulf oil spill, with 69% reporting it has directly influenced them to buy (20%), or consider buying, a green vehicle - versus 41% for over 25s. Meanwhile, 82% argue they 'intend to purchase' or 'might consider buying' a green vehicle in the next two to five years versus 75% over 25. And more of those under 25 believe that gas vehicles will be obsolete within five years (at 33%), than any other group. They are also much more likely to consider plug-in or fuel cell technology than those over 25.