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Kelley: Consumers Concerned About Hybrids' Service, Longevity

July 20, 2005

The latest study from Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research reveals that consumers have concerns when it comes to current gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. However, at the same time a large percentage feel that hybrid technology is the wave of the future. The Kelley Blue Book New-Vehicle Buyer Attitudes Study on Hybrids shows vehicle shoppers’ top concerns about current hybrids involve service and longevity issues, although many shoppers also believe these issues will be resolved over time. There also is consumer skepticism regarding hybrids, as more than half of consumers say they are either not interested in hybrids or feel they need to know more about the technology. Sixty-one percent of consumers said they are very concerned about the difficulty and expense of fixing the complicated technology of hybrids, and 55 percent said they are very concerned about hybrids’ limited battery-pack life. Consumers rated these concerns significantly higher than other issues, such as hybrids failing to deliver the level of gas mileage promised or failing to offer adequate driving performance. Although consumers are expressing concerns about today’s hybrids, they do have an optimistic out-look on hybrids of the future. More than one-third (36 percent) of vehicle shoppers think that gas-electric hybrid engines will be the dominant engine type in five to 10 years, three points higher than the 33 percent who think that regular gasoline engines will still be dominant. In addition, more than half of consumers think that in five to 10 years hybrids will provide higher fuel economy while at the same time offering driving performance similar to gas engines. For consumers expressing an interest in hybrids, the average shopper is willing to pay a premium of $2,355 to purchase one. The study uncovered a core group of hybrid advocates (6 percent of new vehicle shoppers) who say they will buy a hybrid vehicle regardless of the premium they might have to pay for the technology.
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