A parade of electrified vehicles, including the Chevy Volt, dominated a new Consumer Reports survey asking car owners if they would buy their cars again.
The Volt finished first in the category of small cars, followed by the Toyota Prius C and Nissan Leaf. Three hybrids -- the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius, and Toyota Prius Plug-In -- topped the family cars category, while the Toyota Prius V beat all competitors among wagons and minivans.
Consumer Reports said the results will help bring hybrids even further into the automotive mainstream. "Some people are still suspicious of hybrids," Eric Evarts, senior associate autos editor for Consumer Reports, told us. "But as they hear -- mainly through word of mouth -- that others are happy with them, it starts to break down barriers."
The Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid got the highest score in Consumer Reports' owner satisfaction survey. (Source: General Motors)
The annual Consumer Reports owner satisfaction survey asks car owners a single question: Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc.), would you get the same vehicle if you had to do it all over again? The organization received about 350,000 responses on more than 240 models, spanning the model years from 2010 to 2013.
The Chevy Volt had the highest score of any vehicle; 92 percent of owners said they would definitely buy it again. Other high-scoring vehicles included the Porsche 911 (91 percent), Chevrolet Corvette (91 percent), Audi A7 (90 percent), and Dodge Challenger (90 percent).
Consumer Reports editors said they were not surprised by the good performance of hybrids, especially the Volt. "You've got relatively few people who buy them, but they are finding out that the technology works," Evarts said. "It can eventually cut them off from having to buy gasoline without placing any restrictions on their lives."
Not all hybrids did well in the survey. Evarts said the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 450h didn't perform as well as the Volt or Priuses. "For someone who buys a luxury sedan or an SUV, a hybrid doesn't offer them much. It gives a couple miles per gallon, and miles per gallon probably isn't even on their radar."
The survey contrasts sharply with an R.L. Polk & Co. study that found roughly two-thirds of hybrid owners who returned to the market in 2011 did not opt for another hybrid. Polk economists said the study revealed that consumers who buy hybrids to be eco-friendly generally stick with them, but those trying to save money may opt for more fuel-efficient gasoline-burning vehicles the second time around. The Polk study also tracked new car buyers, whereas the Consumer Reports survey looked at owner satisfaction.
Evarts said the high scores for vehicles such as the Volt and Leaf may also reflect the number of early adopters who are responding to the Consumer Reports survey. Because early adopters are enthusiasts by nature, they are expected to be satisfied with their vehicles. "There are still relatively few buyers of these vehicles, especially the Nissan Leaf," he said. "But we expect the satisfaction numbers to start falling off as they become more mainstream. Eventually, these cars won't just be purchased by enthusiastic early adopters."
I have a Volt. Like the CR survey responders I am very happy with the car. A couple of comments. I don't think you could get a comparable Cruze for half the price. The Volt comes pretty loaded. And performance and handling are much better. My commute is over 37 miles. 37 miles is no limit, however, the advantages do diminish with a longer commute. I average over 100 miles per gallon of gas even with my longer commute. As far as being "committed" to charging every night, or thinking it is some kind of hassle. I would compare it to being "committed" to closing your garage door every night (it's every bit as much a similar habit now), and about as difficult as plugging in a cell phone charger. I estimate that it takes 30 seconds total to plug in and unplug. I'll take that 30 seconds of hassle every day to cut my number of trips to the gas station to less than one per month.
My concern is that, as a taxPayer, I funded LOTS of Volt purchases this year. I would love to see technology stand on its own sooner rather than have gov't make market decisions. Maybe the Volt is good stuff, maybe a better technology is out there that the gov't didn't choose to subsidize. I wish there was a model for introducing technology by which the market and not the politicians (using taxPayer $s) got to decide.
Charles, there is no doubt that hybrid cars will gain more momentum in coming years. We cannot depend always on gasoline as fuel because of various crises in Arab countries. In such situations hybrid vehicles are the best solutions.
You've nailed the critical point, Cabe. The Volt is fantastic if you have a predictable commute that's relatively short. If the commute is less than 37 miles, and if you ar committed to charging it every night, you could go many months without putting gasoline in it. But as you also point out, many city dwellers like yourself don't have easy access to predictable daily charging.
Cap'n, I read your headline and the first part of the article and remembered the article you mention later. Considering the adoption curve for new technology and the nature of the question, I would be interested in a more detailed statistical analysis.
We recently went through the process of buying a new car. Actually we bought a certified used car. This was for my wife, and she started out looking at Japanese cars. We encouraged her to look at some other brands, and we looked at some American and German cars. This was a car for commuting to work, so mileage was reasonably important. She ended up with a very nice Volkswagen. It drove so much better than many of the others she looked at. With the warranties and the miniscule differences in quality between the brands, we have many more choices we can feel secure with.
Considering the improvements in fuel efficiency we are seeing with ICEs, much of coming from electronics, and the fall in the price of gasoline, hybrids need to get much better to make a dent. Have you noticed that gasoline is down over $1 (closer to $1.25) per gallon over the past year? With new sources here, which are cheaper than middle east oil (I have seen figures of $47 per barrel), this situation should hold for the foreseeable future.
I am sure the Volt is a nice car, but for twice the cost of a comparable Chevy in its class, it is not that nice.
It's good to see car owners embracing hybrid vehicles and their satisfaction with them is a positive step in the direction to lessen the popularity of and dependence on traditional fossil-fuel vehicles. It really is the way forward to make cars more economical and environmentally friendly. As car makers improve hybrid technology in the future let's hope satisfaction numbers grow.
Tesla Motors plans to roll out a “compelling, affordable electric car” that will sell for about half the price of its high-profile Model S by the end of 2016, company chairman Elon Musk said last week.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.