A decade on – buyers still don’t understand hybrid cars

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama proclaimed that there would be one million electric vehicles on the road in the United States by 2015. Toyota recently celebrated the building of the company’s three millionth hybrid worldwide. More and more automakers are turning to the battery pack and electric motors to improve fuel economy or remove petrol from the equation altogether, but do Americans know what any of this means? Not really, at least according to a recent study.

MediaPost reports that marketing firm Synovate recently polled 1,898 would-be car buyers to gauge their knowledge of hybrids and electric cars, and the results are not encouraging. Only two-thirds are aware that hybrids use both petrol and battery power for propulsion, and a large portion didn’t know hybrids even had batteries onboard. And while regular readers might know that some hybrids can run for short distances on electricity alone, only a third of those polled were aware of that little tidbit.

The results of this poll are likely disheartening to advertisers who have tried tirelessly over the years to explain how hybrids work. And with plug-ins and electric cars starting to hit the market, the education of the car-buying public has just begun. Case in point? Less than half of the nearly 2,000 car-buyers polled knew that plug-in hybrids can run on electric power alone. So… just what is that plug for, then?

Ignorance really ain’t bliss, you know.

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