July 27, 2006

Half of new-vehicle buyers interested in biofuel, study shows

Detroit, Michigan – A new U.S. study by Harris Interactive reports that two-thirds of consumers surveyed are familiar with flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) capable of running on biofuels such as E85, while more than half surveyed are interested in purchasing such a vehicle. Though awareness levels are lower among younger consumers aged 18 to 34, they are most likely to consider purchasing an FFV. The study questioned 12,857 people.

“While hybrid electric vehicles have received a significant amount of attention and interest over the past few years, recent actions and announcements from some vehicle manufacturers suggest that flexible fuel vehicles may be the viable solution to decreasing the demand for petroleum-based energy,” says Bryan Krulikowski, Senior Director of Harris Interactive’s Automotive & Transportation Research Practice.

Among consumers interested in purchasing FFVs, 88 per cent cited a reduced dependency on petroleum as the main reason. Of them, 53 per cent indicated they are willing to pay more for a vehicle that relies less on petroleum-based fuel.

However, the study showed there is some confusion as to the actual benefits of FFVs; 69 per cent said they would choose an FFV for improved fuel economy, although in reality, ethanol-fueled vehicles tend to produce a slight decrease in fuel economy. “Consumers are assuming that a non-petroleum-based fuel will result in better fuel economy, but that is not necessarily the case with ethanol,” Krulikowski says.

Among those not interested in FFVs, 85 per cent said the limited availability of fueling stations is a key reason for their lack of interest. Only about 800 E85 pumps are currently available across the United States.

Connect with Autos.ca