Fact #942: September 12, 2016 Fifteen Percent of Survey Respondents Consider Fuel Economy Most Important when Purchasing a Vehicle

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A 2016 survey of the general population asked “Which one of the following attributes would be most important in your choice of your next vehicle?” The choices were fuel economy, dependability, low price, quality and safety. The same question was asked in previous surveys and the results are compared. Dependability was chosen most often in nearly every survey after 1980, but fuel economy surpassed it in 2011 and 2012 when gasoline prices were higher. In 2016, 15% of respondents indicated that fuel economy would be the most important vehicle attribute, up from 13% in 2015.

Most Important Vehicle Attribute, 1980-2016

Survey results from 1980 to 2016 on the attributes that the respondents looked for in purchasing a vehicle.

Note: During the survey, answer categories were rotated to prevent respondent bias.

Fact #942 Dataset

Supporting Information

Q: Which one of the following attributes would be most important in your choice of your next vehicle?
YearFuel
Economy
DependabilityLow
Price
QualitySafety
198042%31%14%4%9%
198120%40%21%7%12%
198313%38%30%11%9%
19858%41%29%12%10%
19874%44%31%8%14%
19967%34%11%19%29%
19984%36%5%20%34%
200011%33%11%22%24%
200111%30%8%22%30%
200422%26%10%19%23%
200512%33%7%21%28%
200620%28%7%20%26%
200721%30%7%17%24%
200827%27%8%15%23%
200924%29%10%19%18%
201130%22%8%18%22%
201229%25%14%16%15%
201420%30%11%19%20%
201513%31%14%18%21%
201615%33%9%19%24%

Sources:
1980-87: J.D. Power (based on new car buyers).

1996-2016: Opinion Research Corporation International for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (based on the general population).
Study # 70550, December 12, 1996.
Study # 707089, February 19 – 22, 1998, N = 1,019.
Study # 709318, August 3 – 6, 2000, N = 1,013.
Study # 710288, July 12, 2001, N = 1,004.
Study # 713228, May 27, 2004, N=949.
Study # 714209, May 20, 2005, N=1012.
Study # 715238, June 8, 2006, N=1,007.
Study # 716328, August 9, 2007, N=1010.
Study # 717318, August 3, 2008, N=1,005.
Study # 718339, August 14-17, 2009, N=1,003.
Study # 720229, June 3 - 6, 2011, N=1,011.
Study #721488, November 29 - December 2, 2012, N=1,007.
Study #724268, June 25-28, 2015, N=1,007.
Study #725268, June 23-26, 2016, N=1,012.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Consumer Views on Transportation and Advanced Vehicle Technologies, NREL/TP-5400-64840, September 2015, Figure 11.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Consumer Views on Transportation and Energy (Third Edition), NREL/TP-620-39047, January 2006, Table 4.1.1.

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