Fuel Efficiency More Important to New Car Buyers Than Anything Else

Oct 16, 2014 03:20 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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Based on recent study results, fuel-efficiency is pretty important to new car buyers.

More than three-quarters, or 79 percent, of Americans say that fuel efficiency is more important than other factors like the body type of a car, safety features available, or the price of a new vehicle, according to a new study "Driving Toward Change."

The study was conducted to find out the preferences of American car buyers, and was sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and "Plastics Make it Possible."

Drivers from around the country were surveyed and nearly 72 percent of participants say that fuel efficiency is more important to them than it was just five years ago.

Though most American citizens say they would choose fuel efficiency over other automobile features, the study also showed that some people are confused over how to make a car more fuel-efficient. 

When questioned about the relationship between vehicle weight and fuel economy, just 55 percent of people understood that a lighter-weight vehicle is more fuel-efficient.

"What many car buyers don't realize is that lighter materials place less of a strain on a car's engine and improve gas mileage," said Steve Russell, vice president of ACC's Plastics Division, according to a press release. "For many of today's cars, plastics make up 50 percent by volume-but only 10 percent by weight, which is great news for Americans concerned about paying too much at the pump."

Other findings include:

- Around four out of 10 (37%) admitted to driving further to get gas at a lower price.

-Less than 32 percent think fuel efficiency would increase if a vehicle was made with more carbon fiber composites.

-Eight in 10 (83%) of Americans don't know that lighter-weight vehicles can be as safe as a heavier options.

The auto industry as a whole is under pressure to make vehicles more fuel efficient.  Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations require that automakers increase fuel economy to nearly 55 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2025.

The industry meanwhile is looking for new solutions, including replacing heavier materials with light-weight options.

The research released Thursday, conducted by Kelton Global, is based on 1,014 adults, ages 18 and over, according to the release.

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