Intelligent Energy

Poll: Americans want higher fuel standards, hybrid cars

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Consumer Reports has concluded that its new survey demonstrates an overwhelming majority of Americans want higher automobile fuel standards and are considering buying hybrid or electric vehicles.

Image Source: EPA

Despite having mass political polarization, Americans are nearly unanimous in wanting higher automobile fuel efficiency and government regulations to enforce them. Hybrid cars may also soon see a surge in ownership.

Ninety three percent out of 1,008 respondents desired higher fuel economies and 77 percent agreed that the government should impose tougher fuel standards, according to a new poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Consumers are primarily being motivated by price pressure at the pump.

The average cost of a gallon of gasoline nationally has risen from US$1.15 this time in 2001 to $3.39 this month. That’s a nearly 300 percent increase over the past decade.

Moreover, a 56 percent majority is considering purchasing hybrid or electric cars as their next vehicle, and 72 percent of the respondents would consider ownership once availability increases.

"Eighty-nine percent of consumers who are considering these hybrid and electric models cited lower fuels costs as one of their motivations for making the transition," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center. The U.S’s reliance on foreign oil was cited as another main buying factor.

Consumer Reports contacted the respondents via a telephone survey in October. It appears to have used statistically sound methodology with a “nationally representative” probability sample with a margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

The public at large may be unaware that change is already underway. The Obama administration has taken action to dramatically raise automobile fuel efficiency.

Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that will raise the minimum required mpg to 35.5 mpg through the 2012 to 2016 model years and 54.5 mpg after 2025.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and EPA will be unveiling details of the proposed CAFE standards and begin the rule making process this week. Major automotive manufacturers have agreed to the changes, and the EPA is considering incentives to help them reach the new standards sucessfully.

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure