March 23, 2007

More alternative fuel vehicles available, but consumer interest is modest, says J.D. Power

Toronto, Ontario – Vehicle manufacturers are offering more alternative-fuel vehicles, including diesel, gasoline-electric hybrids or flexible fuel powertrains, but Canadian consumers’ interest has not increased at a similar pace, according to a report by J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network.

In the past three years, the number of brands offering diesel, hybrid or flex-fuel engines in Canada has more than doubled, from five to twelve; as well, the number of brands selling gasoline-electric hybrids has climbed to five in 2007 (Ford, Saturn, Honda, Lexus and Toyota). However, despite the increased availability and widespread discussion about “going green”, the market penetration of alternative-fuel vehicles has remained flat in the last three years. Vehicles powered by traditional gasoline powertrains still account for more than 93 per cent of sales nationwide.

Among non-gasoline powertrains, diesels are the most popular, accounting for slightly more than four per cent of the market in the first two months of 2007. They are most popular in Calgary and Edmonton, where they represent more than one out of every 10 new vehicles sold. Flexible fuel vehicles accounted for two per cent of the market in January and February, the highest penetration in the past four years; the percentage of flexible fuel vehicles has jumped by more than two percentage points in all Canadian markets except Montreal. Hybrid vehicles failed to reach one per cent of the market in the first quarter of any of the past four years.

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