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Drive Buys: Electric, Hybrid Cars Still Too Expensive, Inconvenient

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Skyrocketing gas prices and increasing green awareness aside, electric and hybrid cars are still too expensive for most, a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates finds. Despite increasing desire by drivers to protect the environment, car shoppers remain unmoved, due to the high prices and personal inconvenience presently associated with plug-in and alternative-fuel vehicles.

The firm’s 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study, which surveyed 4,000 U.S. car buyers planning to purchase within the next five years, projects that alternative-power-train vehicles will represent less than 10 percent of new car sales through 2016. More than 75 percent of respondents polled said the main reason that they’d consider a hybrid or electric vehicle would be for gas savings, but they would not pay a premium to go green without these direct money-saving incentives. Findings aren’t stopping auto manufacturers from flooding the category with new hybrid and electronic car models, though, with 159 options anticipated by the end of 2016, as opposed to just 31 in 2009.

Respondents also raised concerns regarding electric plug-in cars’ limited driving range and the general lack of availability of charging stations, making them the least popular option among possible alternative fuel options for those surveyed. Confusion was expressed over diesel-powered cars, as well, which, despite greater efficiency than gasoline-powered autos, run on more expensive fuel that’s perceived to be less environmentally friendly and less readily available at the pump.

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