DETROIT -- Flexible-fuel vehicles are catching on with consumers, a Harris Interactive study finds.
The most pressing reason: concerns about dependency on oil, cited by 88 percent of consumers interested in buying such vehicles, Harris says.
Two-thirds of consumers are familiar with flexible-fuel vehicles, which are cars and trucks that can run on biofuels such as E85. More than half of those surveyed say they would consider purchasing a flexible-fuel vehicle.
Many vehicles already are capable of running on flexible fuels, such as E85, which is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and are favored by Detroit automakers. Conversely, Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have offered gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
Harris also found that 18- to 34-year-old consumers are less aware of flexible-fuel vehicles but most likely to consider buying one.
And with gasoline prices above $3 a gallon in many areas of the United States, 53 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for vehicles that don't rely on oil.
Despite this, many consumers aren't sold on flexible-fuel vehicles. Harris found that 85 percent of those who aren't interested in the technology blame a lack of available fueling stations.
Perhaps more foreboding, many consumers don't understand flexible fuel, as 69 percent said they would choose a vehicle because of its improved fuel economy -- but ethanol vehicles usually get slightly worse mileage, although they can boost performance because of their higher octane rating.
Harris conducted the study online from May 15 to June 2. It surveyed 12,857 adults who were at least 18 years old and who owned or leased a 2001 model or newer vehicle.
You may e-mail Greg Migliore at [email protected]