Westlake Village, California – Hybrid-electric vehicles are garnering particularly high interest among U.S. consumers, both before and after an average market premium of US$5,000 is revealed, according to a new study by J.D. Power. The study measures consumer familiarity, interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies, both before and after an estimated market value is revealed.

The study found that before the market price is revealed, 72 per cent of consumers said they are “definitely/probably” interested in having the technology in their next vehicle. This marks a considerable increase from the 2005 study, when only 58 per cent of consumers reported being “definitely/probably” interested. Additionally, after the average price point of US$5,000 was revealed, consumer interest remained relatively high at 46 per cent in 2008.

“High consumer interest in hybrid-electric powertrain technology may be reflective of not only rising gas prices, but also a heightened effort among consumers to be more environmentally conscious,” said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. “Clean diesel technology, however, garners relatively low interest in comparison. One explanation for this may derive from a lack of education with the technology. Many consumers cannot differentiate between clean diesel and traditional diesel fuel, which in the past had a negative connotation with unpleasant vehicle emissions. As consumers become more educated in the benefits of clean diesel through increased product offers launching later this year, interest in the technology may increase.”

Prior to revealing the average market price, the study also found that consumer interest is highest for blind spot detection (75 per cent), backup assist (74 per cent) and navigation systems (73 per cent). After revealing the average market price, interest is highest in backup assist (68 per cent), active cornering headlight systems (65 per cent) and wireless connectivity systems (53 per cent).

“Wireless connectivity, in particular, makes a considerable jump in the rankings after the average price point of $200 is revealed,” Marshall said. “Consumer interest is likely heightened by the fact that more states may prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. Wireless connectivity will potentially become a necessity rather than a luxury as time goes on.”

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