US consumers show increased interest in hybrid cars
At the same time, buyers overestimate potential fuel savings, J.D. Power analyst Mike Marshall said. „One of the biggest challenges for alternative powertrains is that consumers often have unrealistic expectations for the fuel-saving abilities of these vehicles,” he said. Consumers surveyed by Power expect their average fuel economy to improve by 28 miles per gallon with a hybrid vehicle, and by 21 mpg with a diesel model. The research firm estimates a hybrid only boosts fuel economy an average of 9 mpg and a diesel offers an average 12 mpg improvement. „We've certainly tried to communicate with people that the mileage is estimated, and that your real-world experience will vary,” said Cindy Knight, a spokeswoman for Toyota's US sales unit in Torrance, California.
As part of its powertrain study, J.D. Power compiled the Automotive Environmental Index. It ranks the 30 most environmentally friendly models in terms of fuel-economy, tailpipe pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Three Volkswagen AG cars, the VW Golf, Jetta and New Beetle, were among the top 30, and its full US model line led the index overall. Gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles save fuel and reduce emissions by combining a gasoline engine, a battery pack and brakes that capture energy from stopping. The components add at least $3,000 to the retail price of such vehicles. US regular gasoline averaged $2.823 a gallon Aug. 30, 22 cents higher than a year earlier, according to AAA's Web site. J.D. Power surveyed 4,000 consumers for the report. (Bloomberg)
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