High pump prices are encouraging more drivers around the globe to seriously consider hybrids and electric cars for their next vehicle, according to a recent survey.

The survey also found that more than 60% of Americans and Japanese driving a hybrid car are satisfied with their vehicle or have had good experience with it. All around the globe, a surprisingly large number of motorists is interested in a vehicle with a hybrid or electric powertrain.

This was indicated in a representative survey conducted by TNS/Infratest, a market research institute, and commissioned by Continental. It was the first study of this kind worldwide, according to Continental.

Over 8,000 motorists were interviewed in Austria, China, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

The results indicate, among other things, that a third of all those surveyed view it as 'certain or highly likely' that they will select a car with a hybrid powertrain next time they buy a car. In the event that a tax advantage was to be offered on the purchase, another fifty percent plus could be convinced to buy a hybrid vehicle, although they hadn't otherwise intended to do so.

Some 85.7% of respondents also reported that they drive less than 30,000 kilometers a year, while 69% confine their driving mainly to the city.

Felix Kuhnert, partner at the auditing and consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and head of automotive consulting at  PwC said: "Nowadays you're unlikely to find a commuter not concerned with lowering fuel consumption and for whom a more efficient power train - hybrid, for example - is not an option. It's a new trend, powered by - among other things - the steady rise in oil and fuel prices. Consumer understanding and acceptance of the new technologies has also increased. Experts estimate that in the next few years hybrid cars will account for an ever greater share of the cars produced worldwide."

"Hybrid cars may be an option for many motorists as long as the additional cost stays within reasonable limits. Micro-hybrid systems that deactivate the engine when idle are already today a standard feature in many new cars," Kuhnert added.

Hybrid vehicles are on the up even in Germany. Last year 7,591 car owners filed a new registration for a hybrid. According to the study, 54.4% of all Germans drive less than 15,000 kilometres a year. And one out of every two Germans tries to modify driving patterns to cut fuel costs when prices rise at the pump.

"Our job is one of highlighting the extra advantage of alternative power trains and the added value for the individual motorist, but also for the environment," stresses Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Continental AG Executive Board member for technology.

What percentage of those surveyed are certain or very likely to purchase a hybrid car next time around?

  • 53.8% of the Chinese
  • 46.2% of the French
  • 43.8% of the Swiss 
  • 30.2 of the British
  • 29.4% of the Japanese
  • 29.2% of the Austrians
  • 28.1% of the US Americans
  • 27.4% of the Germans