Fuel Efficient Vehicles: The Role of Social Marketing

Fuel Efficient Vehicles: The Role of Social Marketing

Lisa Watson (University of Regina, Canada) and Anne M. Lavack (Thompson Rivers University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2139-6.ch003
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Abstract

Consumers have been slow to switch to more fuel efficient vehicles, in spite of the threat of a future global shortage of fossil fuels. To understand consumer reluctance to adopt hybrid automotive technology, this chapter begins by reviewing consumer decision-making with regard to consumer automotive purchases. We examine the market for fuel efficient vehicles (FEVs) and alternate fuel vehicles (AFVs), including a discussion of consumer willingness to trade personal comfort in order to buy more fuel efficient vehicles, and consumer price sensitivity with regard to purchasing higher-priced alternative fuel vehicles including hybrid-electric vehicles. We discuss the tenuous link between environmental attitudes and behavior, and outline the role of social marketing in creating behavior change relating to automotive purchase decisions.
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Automotive Purchase Decision-Making

The research literature indicates that, to date, there has been only a moderate willingness on the part of consumers to purchase vehicles that are more fuel efficient (DEFRA, 2008). In general, consumers do not give a great deal of thought to the issue of fuel efficiency when making a vehicle purchase, or it is not their primary issue of concern. There are several possible reasons for this relative lack of concern about fuel efficiency, including issues relating to convenience, self-identity, and unwillingness to pay higher initial costs for AFVs.

Consumers also seem to have relatively low levels of awareness with regard to the amount of fuel they consume, and what their fuel costs are over time (Turrentine, Kurani, & Heffner, 2007). This suggests that consumers may have little understanding of the potential long-range impact that a more fuel efficient vehicle would have on their fuel costs and energy consumption. As well, consumers seem to consistently underestimate their annual driving mileage by approximately 2,000 miles per year, on average, which would also contribute to an underestimation of the amount of fuel consumed annually (Kavalec, 1999).

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