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Volt Wins Among Today’s Hybrids and EVs

Two new, completely different high efficiency cars entered the American car market earlier this year – the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt – and AutoPacific set out to find out how different the owners of those cars were from owners of hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.  We also are looking at how satisfied buyers are with the cars and what they would like changed.

Think of these four cars as being purpose-built for their technology.  They did not simply adapt their new powertrain technology to an existing vehicle such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid or the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  The Chevrolet Volt is an Extended Range Electric Vehicle.  The Nissan Leaf is a pure Battery Electric Vehicle.  And the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight are pure Hybrids.

Based on AutoPacific’s annual New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey which has a total of almost 73,000 new car and light truck owner responses to a comprehensive questionnaire about the car buying and ownership experience, the comparison finds some interesting and insightful results.

Leaf and Volt Owners are Dramatically Different from Prius and Insight Owners: Volt owners paid $43,000 for their new car.  Leaf owners paid $34,500.  Prius and Insight owners paid $25,000 and $21,000 respectively.  Given the price points, Volt and Leaf owners are the most affluent with incomes of $150,000.  Prius owners have an income of $100,000 and Insight owners have an income of $80,000.

Leaf and Volt owners are much more likely to be male and much more into the technology of their new car.  They are very similar to early buyers of hybrids who were enamored with the new innovative technology of their vehicle.  The Leaf and Insight owners are the youngest of the group at 53 and 54 years of age respectively.  Owners of the much more expensive Volt are 58 as are owners of the Prius.

Leaf owners have the highest level of education.  About 90% have a college education.  About 70% of Volt, Insight and Prius owners have a college education.  Leaf owners are much more likely to be retired (almost 50%).  Only 17% of Insight owners are retired.  About a third of Leaf owners are in a technical profession as are 20% of Volt owners.

Leaf owners are most likely (24%) to have owned a hybrid before.  Prius owners are almost as likely to have owned a hybrid (23%) as Leaf owners.  Volt (8%) and Insight (8%) owners are newcomers to the world of alternative fuel vehicles.  Volt owners are most likely to have previously driven a compact car (18%) or mid-size car (14%), Insight owners were most likely to have previously driven a compact car (23%) or a mid-size car (23%).

Satisfaction – Volt Wins: About 86% of Volt owners are very satisfied with their vehicles compared with 80% of Leaf owners, 70% of Prius owners and 54% of Insight owners.  Among these four cars, Volt owners are most satisfied by a substantial margin.  Leaf and Prius owners are about equally satisfied.  Insight owners are the least satisfied among the four cars.  Out of 48 satisfaction categories in the research,  Volt owners are the most satisfied in 38 of the categories… an overwhelming win.

Volt – the “extended range electric vehicle” – receives very high satisfaction ratings for being fun to drive, environmental friendliness, advanced powertrain technology, safety features, overall quality, image, exterior and interior styling, interior materials, handling and ride.  Clearly, the driving experience is something that the Volt owners covet.  Similarly, they want a good looking car that does not look quirky.  Volt delivers.  While Volt owners are about as satisfied with fuel economy the other EVs-Hybrids, other attributes were even more satisfying.  Volt owners are least satisfied with rear seat comfort and collision avoidance technology.  About 91% of Volt owners will consider purchasing a plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicle next time.

Prius – a pure hybrid – receives very high satisfaction ratings for fuel economy, reliability/dependability, vehicle reputation, environmental friendliness, range, quality, brand reputation, exterior color, braking, safety rating and ease of loading/unloading.  Prius owners are much more into the image of their car as “green transportation” than the Volt owners who are much more into the driving experience and looks of their car.  Prius owners are least satisfied with collision avoidance technology, visibility, cupholders and tires and wheels.  About 53% of Prius owners would consider a hybrid the next time they buy.  About 28% would consider a plug-in hybrid or pure electric.  Clearly many of these hybrid owners are sold on hybrid technology and do not see the need to plug-in.

Leaf – a pure electric – receives very high ratings for environmental friendliness, quietness inside the vehicle, fuel economy, fun to drive, power and acceleration, quality, reliable/dependable, ride, feeling safe while driving, exterior color and advanced powertrain technology.  Leaf owners are least satisfied with collision avoidance technology, range, flexible interior, price/monthly payments, interior storage compartments, cupholders and audio system brand.  Leaf owners are sold on pure electric vehicles with over 50% saying they would consider another EV next time.  About 25% would consider a plug-in hybrid.

Insight – a pure hybrid – receives high satisfaction ratings for environmental friendliness, reliable/dependable, fuel economy, brand reputation, navigation system, range, quality, durable/long lasting, vehicle reputation, safety features and safety ratings.   Insight owners are least satisfied with rear seat roominess, cupholders, power and acceleration and collision avoidance technology.  The Honda Insight is the lowest scoring vehicle in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Award research.  Similar to Prius, Insight owners are most likely (54%) to consider another hybrid.  About 25% would consider a plug-in hybrid or pure EV.

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