According to research by the firm Johnsons Control, consumers want to have fuel-efficient vehicles but are very confused about the choices on what technology is best for their purposes. The company specializes in lead acid starter batteries and start stop systems and its survey yielded that the resistance to change to fuel efficient hybrid autos is not cost of the technology, but confusion on which technology is the best.
The survey had 1006 respondents and it compared the four current automobile technologies, namely the standard internal combustion engine, the start-stop cars, hybrid electric vehicles and full battery electric cars.
In the survey, forty five percent of the respondents say that there are still too few choices of hybrid vehicles available in the market. Thirty nine percent had no idea as to the differences between the vehicle technologies. This confusion is about how the individual technologies differ, such as hybrids from standard internal combustion engines from start-stop vehicles. The conclusion reached is that there is a great need for informational and educational activities to apprise many common individuals as to the differing set-ups of the engine technologies. Also included in the information would be the costs at purchase and maintenance costs.
Another result of the survey is the perception of the technologies being more expensive, both in the short-term and the long-term. Here, the seventy five percent of potential car owners still opt for the standard internal combustion engine. Of this percentage, only twenty percent would opt for a hybrid, start-stop or electric vehicle, despite the skyrocketing costs of conventional fuels, reaching $4.00 per gallon.
The four engine types that were considered in the survey are as follows:
- The Standard Internal Combustion Engine. These engines are the most common ones on the road nowadays, using gasoline and other fossil fuel for their power.
- The Start-Stop Engine. This is an add-on to any other engine design wherein the engine allows to be turned off such as traffic stops and the engine re-engages when the driver steps on the gas or the clutch.
- The Hybrid Electric Vehicle. This engine uses a marriage of the two existing technologies, namely the internal combustion engine and the electric engine. There are many differing kinds of hybrid designs, such as size of the engines as well as their interaction allowing for greater fuel economy and performance. The common designs are the primary internal combustion and then secondary electric engine and the primary electric and the secondary internal combustion engine which charges the batteries for the electric vehicle.
- The Full Electric Vehicle. This is a full electric engine powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery.
"Our findings show that consumers will really take action when gas hits somewhere between $4 and $5 a gallon," Molinaroli said. "The bottom line is that these vehicles will take off when they make sense financially, likely the most quickly with Start-Stop and hybrid electric vehicles. Consumers do have options, they just are not aware or understand them. We're focused to help them gain that understanding."