Consumer attitudes towards alternative vehicles

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2011)


In the last ten years the automobile market has demonstrated a surprising rise in sales of models with engines alternative to the internal combustion engine (ICE): hybrid-electric engines have been sold more than 2.5 million times worldwide. Some electric models have been launched on the market, and various demonstration projects with hydrogen vehicles have been performed. In this paper we assess whether these trends reflect a more fundamental change in demand structures for car engines.
We successively discuss (1) the changing context of automotive purchasing in the last 15 years through the increasing use of the internet as information source, and the decreasing influence of the salesperson in the showroom; (2) trends in stated preferences of car consumers; (3) Mental perspectives of conventional and alternative engines; and (4) car consumer segmentation.

We find that conventional and alternative engines are framed rather differently. In frames of conventional diesel engines main attributes are engine capacity (number of kW), engine volume (number of liters) and torque (amount of force, in Nm), whereas for hybrids fuel-efficiency is by far the most prominent attribute.
Further we find that over time framing of a conventional engine (diesel) is more stable than that of an unconventional engine (hybrid and full-electric).
Finally, we find that the green car segment, that is the group of consumers willing to may more for a cleaner engine, comprises only a few percentages of the consumer base. It is therefore most probable that only when oil prices become higher, fuel efficiency benefits of alternative vehicles will open up these models to the larger segment of consumers that favor the cheapest drive.



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