What do you look for in a new car?

A University of Michigan survey shows nearly 90 percent of drivers consider fuel efficiency. Half say it’s very important.

Green fuel pump

But while most of us want to be on the road to better fuel economy, we don’t all agree how to get there: about a quarter of drivers want engine improvements; a fifth would choose alternative fuels; and roughly half say they do not care how a vehicle gets better mileage. They just want it to happen.

Feelings were mixed about specific technologies, such as stop-start engine systems, which turn off a car’s engine while idling, and cylinder deactivation, which reduces a car’s active cylinders during highway driving.

Researcher Brandon Schoettle attributes many of the respondents’ concerns to a lack of knowledge – even about things like diesel engines.

Schoettle: “Diesel engines were something people really didn’t want because they often think of them as smelly and having very dirty emissions. And these things have changed quite a bit in the past few decades, but there’s some old perceptions out there still for some of this technology.”

Schoettle says the options are evolving so rapidly, the average consumer is not up to speed. So education will be key to encouraging more people to buy these innovative new vehicles.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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More Resources
Motorists’ Views of Fuel Economy and Advanced Vehicle Technologies (abstract)

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Bud Ward

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...