"Green" Not Enough to Win Most Drivers Over to Green Cars: Report

Hybrid and electric vehicles can only ride so far on the appeal of their fuel economy gains and environmental credentials. For a majority of car buyers, factors such as style, performance and services for information, entertainment and safety will hold more weight in the decision to buy an alternative fuel vehicle in the coming years. That’s according to a new survey from Accenture, which found that six out of 10 consumers “are more likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle only when it is superior to gasoline-only models in every way.”

Accenture, which surveyed 1,850 consumers in North America as well as Germany, France and Italy, notes that just over a third of the respondents (36 percent) named higher gas prices as a reason to purchase a greener car. Responses from participants who have driven a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) suggest today’s green car makers need to step up their game in order to really impress consumers on factors beyond fuel economy.

While I’m generally impatient to see fuel economy improvements with each new generation of vehicles (although how to measure and rate that efficiency is a tricky question for plug-in models), Accenture’s survey respondents who have driven hybrids and EVs were pretty happy with their fuel efficiency. Respondents rated fuel efficiency “very good to excellent.” By contrast, they rated “the ride, performance, style and maintenance as good at best.”

In a market where these models are going up against other mid-range to high-end vehicles, and a time when most consumers (according to today’s survey) want more than a leading fuel economy rating, that may not be good enough for mass market success.

This survey comes as the latest indication of an important role in next-gen green cars for information technology — an area where many automakers are already racing to develop cool services and platforms (To learn more, come check out the panel I’m moderating at our Green:Net conference on April 29 in San Francisco on Connected Cars.)

According to Accenture, however, automakers (original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs) probably won’t be able to beat out the competition going solo. To create vehicles with “distinctive capabilities,” Luca Mentuccia, managing director of Accenture’s Automotive group said in a statement today, both automakers and their suppliers need to start building strategic partnerships.

Image courtesy of D.so’s photostream Flickr Creative Commons.

Related reports on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

How to Build Better Apps for Electric Vehicles

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