Research Proposal: Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Alternative fueled vehicles use forms of energy other than conventional and traditional gasoline and diesel fuel. Included in those alternative forms of fuel are fuels such as methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, or electricity. Consumers appear to have mixed beliefs and opinions about the purchase and use of the alternative fuel vehicles and no one company has as of yet fully committed to the production of these vehicles although some companies are producing a hybrid line of vehicles. In addition the choices that are presently available for purchase of alternative fuel vehicles are quite limited. It is presently unknown how the general population perceives the alternative fueled vehicle and how successful the marketing of this vehicle will actually be. The purpose of this study is to determine how well disseminated information is concerning alternative fueled vehicles and as well to determine the perception of the general public concerning these vehicles and the marketability of the alternatively fueled vehicle.

ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES

Introduction

Alternative fueled vehicles use forms of energy other than conventional and traditional gasoline and diesel fuel. Included in those alternative forms of fuel are fuels such as methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, or electricity. Consumers appear to have mixed beliefs and opinions about the purchase and use of the alternative fuel vehicles and no one company has as of yet fully committed to the production of these vehicles although some companies are producing a hybrid line of vehicles. In addition the choices that are presently available for purchase of alternative fuel vehicles are quite limited.

Statement of Problem

It is presently unknown how the general population perceives the alternative fueled vehicle and how successful the marketing of this vehicle will actually be.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to determine how well disseminated information is concerning alternative fueled vehicles and as well to determine the perception of the general public concerning these vehicles and the marketability of the alternatively fueled vehicle.

Significance of Study

The significance of this study is the information and knowledge that will be added to the already existing base of knowledge in this area of study.

Literature Review

In a recent study entitled: "Symbolic Meaning of Vehicles" it is reported that in consumer societies "...what we buy says much about us. It is as much about whom we want to become and how we wish to be seen as it is about form, feature, and function. But research on the hybrid car market has largely ignored what hybrids mean and examined only functionality and economics." (Kurani and Turrentine, and Heffner, 2009) in the study conducted by researchers Ken Kurani and Tom Turrentine with grad student Rusty Heffner the focus of was attempting to determine "...who is buying hybrid cars and why." (Kurani and Turrentine, and Heffner, 2009) Following fifty comprehensive interviews these the study confirmed that "...people buy hybrids for reasons far more complex than saving money." (Kurani and Turrentine, and Heffner, 2009) According to Heffner "For most households a hybrid vehicle is a symbol for their identity." (Kurani and Turrentine, and Heffner, 2009)

In a separate report entitled: "Fuel Economy: What Drives Consumer Choice?" A study is reported that was conducted in 2003 and 2004 on the knowledge, beliefs and behaviors of consumers in relation to the price, purchase and use of fuel, as well as "how these elements influenced vehicle purchases." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) During the course of the interviews it is reported that fuel prices rose "from around $1.60 to just over $2 a gallon." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007)

Fifty-seven interviews were reported in the homes of Northern Californians who had recently purchase a vehicle or who were on the verge of purchasing a vehicle. The interview was in the form of open-ended questions and probing for in-depth answers. It is reported that more attention was given to the "context and validity of the information" received and what is referred to by some researchers as qualitative research rather than to its "statistical reliability." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) it is reported by Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner that they "stratified...respondents into nine 'lifestyle sectors' because they believed that they might have "different sensibilities about fuel use." (2007)

Stated for example is that they "define several groups" in which it was believed that they would "have the awareness and the skills to be particularly sophisticated in their accounting, such as computer engineers, finance professionals, business owners, ranchers and farmers, and even buyers of hybrid vehicles." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) it is related that the interviews "unfolded in four phases" and Kurani and Turrentine, and Heffner state that in the first three interviews that they "were careful not to blurt out anything like 'So what do you think about fuel economy?' Instead it is reported that they listened closely as households related their stories about "buying and driving cars." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007)

It is reported that the first phase of interviewing "covered the history of all vehicles the household had owned. These histories varied from extensive to brief. Some respondents had owned twenty or more vehicles during their lifetime. Others, especially graduating college students may have been buying their first car." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) the second phase of the interviews is reported to have rendered a "detailed account of the household's most recent vehicle purchase" and the third phase proposed was a hypothetical purchase of another new vehicle in which was inserted 'fuel economy' as one of the several vehicle attributes for the households to consider." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007)

It is reported that in the first three phases of the interviews there was little discussion about fuel economy and households in which the issues of fuel economy were mentioned the most were those in which enlisted military personnel with limited incomes were part of the household. For some of the students in the interviews "fuel costs were their entire cost of operating a vehicle." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) in the four phase of interviewing the researchers report inquiring about fuel economy and fuel use directly and asking households to provide "details about the fuel economy of their current cars, their day-to-day fuel use and costs and the important of fuel economy in past and present vehicle purchases." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007)

It is reported by Kurani and Turrentine, and Heffner that drivers "were able to tell us what it cost to fill their tank and the per-gallon price they paid during their most recent trip to the gas station -- if that trip had been made the day of our interview or the day before. If it was any further in the past, then confident answers were replaced by tentative estimates. Many were uncertain because when they paid by credit card they didn't always look at what they spent. Most households confessed to having no idea of their fuel costs over any period of time -- weekly, monthly, or annually. They did not budget, manage, or track fuel costs in any systematic way." (2007)

It is additionally reported that many drivers in this study could not inform the researchers "...with any certainty how many miles per gallon (MPG) their current vehicle got, which was not surprising since many cars do not have fuel economy gauges. " (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) the individuals in this study who could provide this information to the researchers were stated to have "...either calculated it when they refueled or recalled it from the vehicle's window sticker (only an option if they had purchased the car new). A few who calculated MPG did so to track the condition of their engine, not fuel costs. They had learned from someone -- their father or their mechanic, for example -- that if they saw a drop in MPG, there was something wrong with the engine." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007)

Furthermore, the researchers quizzed the participants concerning their willingness to pay for a vehicle "...with higher fuel economy and what payback period they expected for the increased cost..." And report a range of answers stating: "Even households with high financial skills struggled to guess what improvements in fuel economy were worth to them in dollars and cents." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007)

When the researchers asked the participants in the interview in regards to money back on investments in better fuel economy answers given included "I guess it would be nice if it were paid off when the loan was paid off." (Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner, 2007) Kurani, Turrentine, and Heffner state as follows: "When respondents did offer a desired payback period, we asked where they got the number. In almost all cases, interviewees said they were guessing, and that this simply was not the way they had ever thought about buying a car. One banker we interviewed lit up when we asked this question. He said, "I know what you're talking about -- that's a payback… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles.  (2009, October 25).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/alternative-fuel-vehicles/52825

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"Alternative Fuel Vehicles."  25 October 2009.  Web.  7 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/alternative-fuel-vehicles/52825>.

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"Alternative Fuel Vehicles."  Essaytown.com.  October 25, 2009.  Accessed December 7, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/alternative-fuel-vehicles/52825.