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Costs, Range Issues Likely to Limit Green Car Sales

“Automakers will be fighting” for the few green buyers, warns Power study.

by on Apr.27, 2011

Ford's Focus Electric will be one of 159 battery-based vehicles on the U.S. market by 2016 - but will car buyers care?

Despite the endless headlines and the steady roll-out of battery cars, plug-ins, hydrogen vehicles and natural gas-powered sedans, the market for alternative powertrain vehicles is likely to remain extremely limited for some years to come, warns a new study that predicts “automakers will be fighting over the relatively few consumers who are willing to drive green.”

Though large numbers of U.S. car buyers might say they want a clean vehicle, cost and convenience matter more than the environment when it comes time to buy, concludes the Green Automotive Study released today by J.D. Power and Associates.

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“It is the financial issues that most often resonate with consumers, whether it is the higher price of the vehicle itself, the cost to fuel or charge the vehicle, or the fear of higher maintenance costs,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, Power’s executive director of global vehicle research. “The bottom line is that most consumers want to be green, but not if there is a significant personal cost to them.”

By 2016, Power forecasts there will be 159 hybrid and electric vehicle models available in the U.S., a more than fivefold increase from the 31 marketed in 2009.  But they’re collectively expected to account for just 10% of the total U.S. automotive market.