San Jose, California – Consumers still prefer gasoline vehicles but there is strong interest in alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs), according to a new study by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI).

The study looked at hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) vehicles and electric vehicles (EV).

While no alternative fuel vehicle came out overwhelmingly ahead, HEVs seem to have an edge among consumers.

The researchers looked at trade-offs between the various vehicles and found that a US$1,000 cost in an AFV must be compensated by either a $300 savings in driving cost over 12,000 miles (19,312 km); an increase in vehicle range of 17.5 miles (28 km); or a 7.8-minute decrease in total refuelling time, including finding a station and refuelling the vehicle.

“Although one-third of respondents ranked gasoline-fuelled vehicles as their first choice, 20 per cent of respondents ranked gasoline vehicles last, and there is a strong interest in AFVs,” said Dr. Hiliary Nixon, co-author of the study. “Although no AFV type is overwhelmingly preferred, HEVs seem to have an edge, which probably reflects the fact that a number of popular HEVs have been available for several years.”

Fully electric vehicles are the least popular of the AFVs the respondents were asked to consider, and were ranked last by 40 per cent of the respondents. The researchers said that it is apparent that the current limitations of these vehicles, including range and recharging times, are still a deterrent to their widespread adoption.

The researchers said that although the environmental benefits of AFVs are often touted by the media, this characteristic does not seem to be a determining factor for buyers, who make economic concerns their priority.

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