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Personal Finance > Autos

Gas-saving technology most wanted
Study says fuel efficiency tops the list of technologies for which auto buyers are willing to pay.
December 9, 2004: 11:26 AM EST
By Steve Hargreaves, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - When it comes to automotive gizmos, Americans say they are most willing to pay for stuff that saves them at the pump, according to a study released Wednesday.

Most wanted technologies
1.Enhanced fuel economy
2.Halogen and xenon lights
3.Advanced air conditioning
4.LED displays
5.Advanced tire pressure monitoring
6.Side airbags and electronics
Source:Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive found that the technology consumers both most wanted and are willing to pay for in a new car or truck are devices to make it more fuel efficient.

"There was an opinion on Wall Street and in the industry that $2 a gallon was not enough," said the market research company's Scott Upham. "But I think we've reached a tipping point."

Technologies that improve fuel efficiency were defined as devices or designs that control valve timing, reduce engine friction, improve transmission efficiency or reduce other losses.

The other most popular gadgets customers were most likely to purchase on their next vehicle were halogen and xenon lighting, advanced air conditioning systems, an LED display, advanced tire pressure monitoring and side airbags and electronics, in that order.

Survey respondents also said they were willing to pay $1,674 more for an electric hybrid vehicle, $694 for four-wheel steering and $534 more for radar-enabled collision warning.

At the request of automakers, Upham said the poll asked respondents to rate how "tech savvy" they were and how social they were. The results showed the most tech savvy people drove Volvos. Audi owners came in second, followed by Jaguar, BMW, Suzuki, Nissan, Lexus, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Isuzu, in that order.

Those who said they were the most social, defined by the level of social and civic activity and communication with non-relatives at work, school and within the community, were also most likely own a Volvo. Saab owners ranked second in sociablity, followed by Acura, BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, Lincoln, Isuzu and Mitsubishi.

Upham said automakers use this type of data because they are more likely to debut new technologies on these cars and rely on the more social owners to spread the word.

"They are kind of acting as a maven within their clan," he said. "They buy it, they test it, and then recommend."

The survey was conducted over the last two weeks using 14,000 of Harris' online members.  Top of page

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