Westlake Village, California – While most automotive manufacturers have shifted production to smaller vehicles, nearly 70 per cent of consumers say they want automakers to invest more in existing and emerging powertrain technologies, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The Alternative Powertrain Study examines the reasons why consumers consider or avoid alternative powertrain vehicles, such as hybrids, flexible fuel and clean diesel models. The study found that more than 80 per cent of consumers believe that the U.S. is currently faced with an energy crisis, but only 18 per cent of them believe this issue can be addressed by focusing on small vehicle production with better fuel economy. Approximately 30 per cent of consumers believe that manufacturers should continue to produce a comparable vehicle line-up with focus on hybrid-electric, clean diesel and flexible fuel vehicles, while an additional 39 per cent believe manufacturers should focus on developing technologies not currently available, such as fuel cells and electric vehicles.

“Nearly 80 per cent of consumers believe that gas prices will continue to rise, which will have a significant effect on the vehicles they will consider,” said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power. “However, some consumers still want more than small cars to choose from in the auto market. They still want their SUVs and pickup trucks, except with better fuel economy and more environmentally friendly.”

The study also found that the percentage of consumers who are considering a hybrid-electric vehicle is up to 62 per cent in 2008, from 50 per cent in 2007. Consideration for flexible-fuel vehicles capable of running on E85 has decreased slightly, from 47 per cent in 2007 to 43 per cent in 2008. Consideration for clean diesel has declined the most, from 23 per cent in 2007 to 16 per cent in 2008, which may be attributed to the substantial rise in the relative price of diesel since 2007. The study included responses from more than 4,000 consumers who plan to purchase a new vehicle within the next two years.

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