In a recent survey among 1.084 American consumers, conducted by Navigant Research, favorability ratings for different kinds of clean transportation concepts were measured, among which electric cars, hybrid cars, natural gas vehicles and biofuels.
Consumers held increasingly favorable opinions of these clean transportation concepts. Hybrid vehicles were considered favorable by two thirds of all respondents, electric cars, and natural gas vehicles were considered favorable by more than half of all respondents, while biofuels were favored by more than two-fifths of respondents (43%).
Interestingly, alternative fuels, natural gas vehicles, and biofuels have significant contrasting opinion ratings between the genders with significantly higher favorability reported by males. In general, favorability for these alternative fuel vehicles also tended to be higher among older and more educated respondents.
It can be expected that hybrid vehicles garnered the highest percentage of favorable votes for alternative fuel vehicles given that models such as the Toyota Prius, Ford Escape and Chevrolet Volt have been available for some time. As more Battery Electric Vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S have become available and more consumers have become exposed to these cars, the favorable opinion of electric vehicles has rebounded after trending lower over the past couple years (61% favorability up from 49% in 2012 and 55% in 2011).
As in previous years, natural gas-powered vehicles received favorability ratings similar to electric cars, even though natural gas powered-vehicles are largely limited to commercial fleets.
Unfortunately but understandable, Navigant Research did not measure favorability of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, which is still being researched by some automakers and the US government, despite its doubtful reputation as a credible alternative to the other clean transportation concepts.
Between 2009 and 2012, there were steady declines in favorability for some concepts, particularly the most favorable concepts such as solar hybrid vehicles and electric cars. However, results in the 2013 survey indicated a rebound in consumer favorability for these concepts, as all clean transportation concepts showed an increase in favorability from 2012 to 2013. At the same time, unfavorability of all clean transportation concepts decreased, with again the largest decreases for hybrid vehicles and electric cars.