While it’s easy for those of us in the thick of it to simply “know” that the eventual domination of plug-in vehicles and hybrids is a foregone conclusion, what we pundits conclude is essentially irrelevant (yes, that does represent an existential crisis of sorts). Truly, in the end it comes down to what the average person ultimately accepts.
And if a recent survey by Capital One Auto Finance (done in honor of Earth Day) is any guide, plug-ins and hybrids are not just a passing fad with fully 78% of U.S. consumers now sure that they are here to stay.
Given that the survey found that almost everyone (96%) does not currently own either a hybrid or a plug-in vehicle — with 76% saying they’ve never even test driven one — the fact that 78% are on board for the plug-in and hybrid future is astounding. This is group of people that likely don’t even know how these kinds of cars operate, what they really offer, or, indeed, how they even drive, yet still believe that a future full of them is written in stone. Maybe us pundits do actually have an effect after all?
The survey also examined how consumers view buying a car through the lens of the environment and found that more than half (55%) said that they’d be willing to give up their larger vehicle for a more fuel efficient model when they buy their next car. If these statistics are to be believed, the era of the plumped up SUV truly seems to be coming to a close. Just so we’re all clear, I have nothing against SUVs when they are used in a fashion that requires their use. It’s the shining chrome, never-seen-more-than-two-passengers, never-been-off-road, never-hauled-more-than-groceries Hummer commuter vehicles that kill me.
Interestingly, although consumers are certain the future will be dominated by plug-ins and hybrids, when asked what their next car will be, only 34% say they are very likely to buy one… but 54% say they’ll own one in their lifetime.
The high entry price of these cars seems to be the only hang-up towards purchase consideration. But the survey also found that there is a large lack of knowledge about the incentives that are available towards the purchase of plug-in and hybrid vehicles and that people don’t know how to perform the basic calculations to figure out what kinds of lifetime fuel savings they would see. Now that’s just sad. On another note, lets cut our education budgets some more because clearly our students are doing just fine.
Image Credit: First Pre-Production Chevy Volt off the assembly line via GM