Nissan Leaf

Lack of refueling costs is very good. Low emissions are even better. That's a brief synopsis of an also-brief report from J.D. Power, which attempted to suss out the reasons why Americans buy electric vehicles, among other things.

Of those who bought electric vehicles, 32 percent cited environmental concerns, while 29 percent said "fuel" economy (with the fuel here being conceptual because there's no actual liquid product involved here) was the primary reason for the purchase. Those results somewhat dovetailed with preferences of "Mass Market" vehicle buyers, as fuel economy popped up as the most important reason for a new-car purchase. That was followed by reliability, purchase terms (i.e., interest rates and rebates), styling and performance. Luxury buyers put performance up top, naturally. J.D. Power polled about 29,000 vehicles owners in the spring of 2013 for the results of its 2014 U.S. Avoider Study.

Whether those results would hold up today remains in question as Tesla Motors and its luxury Model S has taken a sizable chunk of the US plug-in market since then. Last year, Americans almost doubled their plug-in purchases to just short of 100,000 units. Tesla sold almost 22,300 vehicles in 2013, roughly keeping pace with the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. You can read more about J.D. Power's press release below.
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J.D. Power Reports: New-Vehicle Buyers Cite Latest Technology as a Reason for Purchasing Domestic Vehicles More Often than as a Reason for Purchasing Imports

Top Five Purchase Reasons Differ between Luxury and Mass Market New-Vehicle Buyers

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 15 January 2014 -- New technology offerings in vehicles are important to new-vehicle buyers who purchase domestic models, as 38 percent of those buying domestic vehicles cite the latest technology features as a reason for their purchase, compared with 33 percent of import vehicle buyers, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Avoider StudySM released today.

Additionally, domestic vehicle buyers who previously owned an import model are even more likely to purchase a domestic model due to its new technology and features (40%).

"Domestic brands in general are carving out a niche for themselves by offering vehicles with the latest technological features, and it appears to be getting the attention of consumers," said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power. "It's important for automakers to understand what motivates new-vehicle buyers to shop and purchase a particular model and focus on promoting those top purchase influencers to differentiate themselves and gain market share."

KEY FINDINGS
-- Among both import and domestic new-vehicle buyers, latest technology is among the top 10 purchase reasons indicated at the industry level.
-- For a third consecutive year, gas mileage continues to be the most influential purchase reason at the industry level (15%) and is the second-most-frequently cited reason for rejecting a vehicle, behind price.
-- Exterior styling remains the most influential reason for new-vehicle buyers to avoid shopping other models in the segment in which they purchased (33%).
-- Slightly more than eight in 10 (81%) new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet for automotive shopping cite accessing online ratings and reviews prior to purchasing their vehicle. Fifteen percent of new-vehicle buyers cite online ratings and reviews as a reason they avoided a specific vehicle, up 4 percentage points from 2010.
-- Among new-vehicle buyers who purchased an electric vehicle, more buyers say that they did so due to environmental concerns (32%) than gas mileage (29%).

The study also finds that the top five most influential purchase reasons among luxury and mass market new-vehicle buyers are:

Luxury
1. Performance (power, handling, etc.)
2. Quality of workmanship (materials, fit and finish)
3. Exterior styling (design)
4. Like the image this vehicle portrays
5. Reliability (freedom from breakdowns)

Mass Market
1. Gas mileage (fuel economy)
2. Reliability (freedom from breakdowns)
3. The "Deal" (interest rates/rebates)
4. Exterior styling (design)
5. Performance (power, handling, etc.)

The 2014 Avoider Study is based on responses from approximately 29,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in April and May 2013. The study was fielded between July and September 2013. The study, now in its 11th year, examines the reasons consumers purchase, reject and why they do not consider--or avoid--particular models when shopping for a new vehicle.