The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Study: More New-Car Buyers Weighing Impact on Environment

September 28, 2008

IRVINE, CA --- In-market new-vehicle shoppers are not only increasingly concerned about the environment, they are making purchase decisions based on how their choices will affect the environment, according to Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research's all-new Eco Watch study.

Sixty-one percent of new-vehicle shoppers say it's important to purchase a vehicle from a brand that's environmentally friendly. Consumers cite Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet as first, second and third, respectively, for having the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.   

"While Toyota and Honda have long been praised for being fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, in-market car shoppers also are now seeing Chevrolet near the top of the list, demonstrating that Chevy's recent push of hybrids, flex-fuel and most recently plug-in electric vehicles is really resonating with the car-buying public," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and "The latest EcoWatch results show that brands with robust alternative-fuel-technology models, be it Toyota with hybrids, Honda with hybrid, natural gas and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, or Chevrolet with hybrid, flex-fuel and the much-talked-about electrically driven technologies epitomized by the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, are garnering consumer perception as being the most eco-friendly."   

Sixty percent of consumers are concerned about the environment, with the top issues being water pollution, air pollution, global warming and energy shortages. When asked what they are doing to change their lifestyles in response to environmental issues, 58 percent say they are considering a more fuel-efficient vehicle, 57 percent say they have changed their driving habits, and 56 percent say they are making their home more energy efficient.

New-car shoppers also are changing their spending habits in response to elevated gas prices, with nearly 50 percent saying they are shopping less for clothes, going out to eat less and spending less money on entertainment. 

In addition, half of consumers say that gas prices have made them change their mind about the type of vehicle they are considering, or have made them think strongly about vehicles they were not previously considering.

Fifty-eight percent of shoppers who have already changed the type of vehicle they are planning to purchase say they would not revert back to their previous consideration even if gas prices dropped $1.00/gallon. In lieu of reverting back to their previous considerations, consumers instead are changing the specifications on the vehicles they are considering in order to save money and protect the environment.

Shoppers say they are willing to compromise on engine size, vehicle size, vehicle category and performance, while they are less likely to compromise on available features and options, vehicle capacity or in-vehicle storage. On average, consumers say they are willing to spend $2,600 more for an environmentally friendly vehicle.

Nearly three-quarters of new-vehicle shoppers say they wish there were more alternative-fuel vehicles to choose from in the marketplace. The alternative-fuel types in which consumers are most interested are hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas vehicles, while consumers are more skeptical about biofuel, diesel and battery-electric vehicles, the study found. 

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