Monday, December 13, 2010

America's New Car Ratings: Consumer Concerns and Marketing

Whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a rating system that is based on letters or numbers, for the American consumer, environmental concerns are trumped by concerns about price and concerns about US dependence on foreign oil.

Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federation of America, said both of EPA's proposed labels are an improvement over the current label, for the American consumer, he concedes that money is still an important concern.

Sticker price is not the only economic concern, annual fuel costs are also important to consumers and therefore important in the marketing of new vehicles.

Concerns about dependence on foreign oil is another priority for American consumers. Gillis said that the CFA's research shows that "concern about our dependence on foreign oil seem to have a greater impact on consumer attitudes than environmental concerns."

According to David Champion, the head of automotive testing for the influential Consumer Reports magazine, credibility will be a critical factor in marketing the new electric cars and building a market for the next generation of electric vehicles.

While some consumers may opt for the new car technology for emotional reasons, the mainstream market has more practical concerns. “It’s going to be a very difficult numbers game for consumers” to decide if the economics justify turning to electric propulsion, Champion said.

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