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Do Americans Want the Same as Consumers in Europe When it Comes to Plug-In Hybrids?


A New Study in Europe Accentuates the Growing Need for Supporting Plug-in Hybrid Infrastructures

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A new Harris Interactive® study has uncovered significant consumer demand for energy efficient technologies in the automotive sector in Europe. Comparison research in the U.S. mimics this trend.

Figures from the annual AutoTECHCAST Europe study, undertaken by global market research organization Harris Interactive, reveal that 20 percent of Europeans are very or extremely likely to purchase a vehicle that has plug-in hybrid technology, not taking into account estimated market prices. The Harris Interactive AutoTECHCAST U.S. study evaluates similar domestic consumer trends and provides comparison data for marketers and manufacturers seeking to better understand key differences (and important similarities) in U.S. and European consumer markets.

The study reveals that 30 percent of European consumers who are likely to purchase the plug-in hybrid technology in their next vehicle expect to charge it at least once a day or more. Once the vehicle is plugged in, they expect to charge it for around 5.1 hours. A similar study in the U.S. shows that Americans expect to charge their vehicles slightly more often than their European counterparts – 56 percent anticipated charging their car at least once daily and for approximately 6 hours at a time.

The convenience of plugging in a vehicle every night instead of filling it up at the gas station every week is very appealing to plug-in hybrid considerers, with 72 percent of respondents in Europe preferring the plug-in option. “It’s clear that people are open to this new approach of adding energy to the vehicle. The fact that drivers now prefer to conduct this task daily, versus once a week, shows real promise for the technology,” said Stephen A. Lovett, director of automotive and transportation research at Harris Interactive.

The study also highlights that further consideration is needed of the infrastructure required to support a population of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Among the European consumers surveyed, 21 percent of those considering buying a plug-in hybrid indicate that they currently park on the street when at home.

Lovett continued, “While consumers are increasingly open to this technology, major changes in the infrastructure in both Europe and the U.S. will be critical for consumers to access the desired benefits of this technology. Our research shows that the gap between demand and available ”charging supply“ needs to be addressed. Due to a combination of higher fuel costs, concentrated driving conditions, and cultural differences that cater to high levels of environmental protection, Europeans have historically been more adopting of technologies that contribute to additional efficiency in their vehicles. Mounting economic and environmental trends in the U.S., however, will likely start to level the playing field in the future among U.S. and European consumers.”

In addition to the plug-in hybrid engine, Europeans also show significant interest in the Start-Stop System technology. Before market prices are brought into the equation, a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said they would be very or extremely likely to purchase the Start-Stop System technology for their next vehicle.

Lovett commented, “Start-Stop Systems provide the greatest benefit in city driving environments. With Europe’s higher population density and greater penetration of manual transmissions, the mindset progression to this type of system is more natural than in the US, which tends to favor more automatic dominated, highway cruising vehicles. This has been recognized by BMW, which has begun equipping many of its European models with such systems.”

The figures were taken from Harris Interactive’s AutoTECHCAST Europe study, an annual survey of adult vehicle owners in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. The research measures awareness, consideration and willingness to pay for 59 unique automotive technologies, including several alternative fuel and powertrain technologies such as the Hybrid Electric Engine, Plug-In Hybrid Engine, Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), Fuel Cell Engine and the Start-Stop System.

Additional Information

To review selected research from the Harris Interactive AutoTECHCAST Europe study, please visit:

Additional Information on the AutoTECHCAST Europe study can be found at

2008 AutoTECHCAST Europe Methodology

The 2008 AutoTECHCAST Europe study was conducted online within the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Spain by Harris Interactive between May 12, 2008 and June 30, 2008 among 19,933 European adults aged 18 and over and who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driving license, have at least one household vehicle, and own a listed European model – 2001 or newer. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, region and income and to properly represent European vehicle segment owners. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

2008 AutoTECHCAST U.S. Methodology

The U.S. AutoTECHCAST study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between December 28, 2007 and January 14, 2008 among 12,891 U.S. adults ages 18 and over and who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver’s license, have at least one household vehicle, own a listed North American model – 2003 or newer, and are at least 50 % involved in the decision to buy their next household vehicle. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, region and income and to properly represent U.S. vehicle segment owners. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit


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