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Deloitte research study finds Gen Y buyers strongly favor hybrids

The fourth and just-released annual survey of Gen Y consumers and their automotive market preferences indicated a strong bias among this influential group -- aged 19-31 -- towards gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles. Conducted in September/October 2011 in conjunction with Michigan State University's Broad College of Business, the findings reflect input from a global sample of individuals, including 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer consumers in the United States, 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 Gen Y consumers in Western Europe.

Among the key stats the survey revealed: 59 percent of respondents prefer an "electrified vehicle" over any other type of car or truck and 57 percent placed gasoline/electric power at the top of their list. Thirty-seven percent found conventional gasoline engines their best choice while only two percent favored a pure electric vehicle.  

In commenting on the report, Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practice leader at Deloitte LLP, noted that Gen Y's strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the "generation that leads us away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles." He notes that the group, which currently numbers nearly 80 million here in the U.S. alone, will be responsible for purchasing one out of four new cars sold here in 2012 and roughly 40 percent of all vehicles sold in the next decade. "Gen Y consumers also view hybrid technology as proven and reliable," says Giffi. Equally important, they favor conventional hybrids over plug-in variants by more than a two to one margin.

Not surprisingly, the strongest appeal of hybrids lies in their fuel efficiency. According to Giffi, 89 percent of Gen Y consumers who responded are considering buying a vehicle that gets better mileage. That is particularly true when gasoline commands more than $2.75 a gallon, the index value this Gen Y group deemed as "fair." The study also found that 49 percent would be wiling to shell out a additional $300 for each mile-per-gallon rise that a hybrid could deliver. That amount is just $50 below the premium Deloitte estimates a hybrid currently costs compared to a standard non-hybrid alternative.

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