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Gen Y’s embrace of hybrids may be auto market’s tipping point

Generation Y’s strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the generation that leads the automotive market away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, according to an annual survey by Deloitte and Michigan State University.

A majority (59 percent) of Gen Y respondents surveyed prefer an “electrified vehicle” over any other type of car or truck. Moreover, Gen Y consumers heavily favor hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (57 percent) over pure battery electric vehicles (2 percent) or vehicles with a traditional gasoline-only powertrain (37 percent).

The annual survey, now in its fourth year, canvassed 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer consumers in the United States, as well as 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 Gen Y consumers in Western Europe. The survey defines Gen Y consumers as those ranging in age from 19 to 31.

Deloitte conducted the survey in September and October 2011 with help from Clay Voorhees, assistant professor of marketing in MSU’s Broad College of Business.

Deloitte announced the preliminary results of the survey at its Shifting Gears conference today in Detroit. Full survey findings will be released in February.

Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practice leader at Deloitte LLP, said Gen Y consumers may be the game changers in the United States, because, at nearly 80 million strong, they are one of the biggest automobile buying market segments and the largest consumer segment since the baby boomers. According to projections, 40 percent of vehicles sold in the next 10 years will be bought by Gen Y consumers.

From the study, Giffi found that Gen Y consumers are drawn to hybrids for several reasons. Most notably, fuel efficiency: 89 percent of Gen Y consumers are considering buying a vehicle that gets better mileage. This is especially true when gasoline prices rise above $2.75 per gallon – the median price Gen Y consumers see as ‘fair.’

“Gen Y consumers also view hybrid technology as proven and reliable,” says Giffi. “Almost six in 10 Gen Y respondents prefer a hybrid over any other type of vehicle.”

In addition, in-dash technology is the most important part of a vehicle’s interior for a majority (59 percent) of Gen Y respondents, with almost three-quarters (73 percent) seeking touchscreen interfaces. Gen Y consumers also rank smartphone applications as highly desirable in a new automobile (72 percent).

“Gen Y consumers prefer automobiles that are an extension of their social-media and digital lifestyles,” said Joe Vitale, global automotive sector leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

On average, Gen Y consumers are willing to spend more than $3,000 for hardware that delivers connectivity.

 

Story via MSU News.


Eli Broad College of Business

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