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Alternative-fuel vehicles gaining favor with motorists

This year’s near-record run-up in fuel prices has clearly had an impact on the choices American motorists are making when it’s time to buy a new vehicle – in fact, three in four U.S. drivers now say they’re ready to consider an alternative-fuel vehicle, according to a new study.

While many motorists still aren’t ready to trade in their roomy SUVs for high-mileage subcompacts — at least if recent sales are considered — there’s little doubt that there are significant changes under way in the American car market, with fuel economy now a much more important factor than vehicle quality or safety, according to research by the nonprofit Consumer Reports.

“These results make it clear that high fuel prices are continuing to impact driver behavior and influencing future purchase considerations,” said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor. “While quality, safety and value are still important, this may be foreshadowing a market shift by folks seeking relief at the pump.”

CR’s study reveals that 37 percent of motorists now put fuel economy as their top consideration while shopping for a new car. Quality, a perennial chart-topper, was listed by just 17 percent, with safety close behind at 16 percent. Other motorists said they put a priority on value, at 14 percent, and performance, at 6 percent.

Of those who listed fuel economy as their top consideration, nine in 10 said the primary goal was to reduce their fuel bills – but 62 percent cited the environmental benefits, with 56 percent mentioning a desire to reduce the consumption of foreign oil.

One of the more significant findings of the new study was the growing willingness of shoppers to consider alternative powertrain technologies, especially E85 ethanol and hybrid technologies. Young motorists were particularly open to these new options, though the figure was still 73 percent among all the buyers surveyed by Consumer Reports.

via Bottom Line.

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