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Survey finds car buyers are willing to pay more upfront to save money later

While researching public opinion in relation to driving habits and green vehicles such as their new Ford Fusion, a survey commissioned by Ford Motor Company found that a majority of Americans say they’re paying more upfront to save money over time.

The new Ford Fusion provides a lineup of fuel-efficient options including EcoBoost®, EcoBoost with Auto Start-Stop technology, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain offerings.

The Fusion with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine is Ford’s first gasoline-powered vehicle in North America to offer the Auto Start-Stop fuel-saving technology – derived directly from Ford hybrids, and a $295 option – with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford group vice president for Global Product Development Raj Nair said, “The new Fusion with Auto Start-Stop technology is an affordable way for consumers to enjoy some hybrid benefits including improved urban fuel economy and cleaner air.”

A Ford-commissioned survey by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland also found many American drivers are slowing down, coasting more to stops, and in some cases even slipstreaming behind larger vehicles to save gasoline.

Based on $1,000 of discretionary income to spend on energy savings, 25 percent of the survey respondents would buy a vehicle with hybrid technology, with almost equal numbers choosing energy-efficient appliances or solar panels.

The study shows the significance of this greener attitude shift, as seven out of 10 drivers have changed their driving habits to become more fuel-efficient.

This recently released research of American driver attitudes indicates the following trends:

  • Saving money and helping the environment are top drivers of energy-efficient purchases;
  • Almost all respondents agree on the importance of fuel-efficient vehicles (95 percent), followed by energy-efficient appliances (93 percent) and light bulbs (85 percent);
  • Seven of 10 respondents have changed their driving habits to save fuel;
  • Sixty-four percent drive less frequently, 41 percent have slowed down, and 10 percent say they draft behind larger vehicles to save fuel;
  • Thirty-two percent have done research to find cheaper fuel; and,
  • Twenty-one percent have purchased a new vehicle with improved fuel economy.

Auto Start-Stop switches off the gasoline engine when the vehicle is stopped in congested traffic, at stop signs and traffic signals. Seamlessly restarting when the driver releases the brake pedal, the system helps to save fuel and conserve the environment.

Ford Auto Start-Stop can provide up to a 10 percent improvement in overall fuel efficiency, with a corresponding drop in tailpipe emissions.

Auto Start-Stop saves the fuel typically wasted when a car is standing and running at idle. Savings vary depending on driving patterns, but owners who spend most of the time in urban areas and city traffic will benefit the most – up to 10 percent.

On average, Auto Start-Stop improves fuel efficiency by about 3.5 percent. If 50,000 Fusions were equipped with Auto Start-Stop, the improved efficiency would reduce annual CO2 emissions by more than 14 million lbs. and 1 million gallons of gasoline.

More broadly, a study by the United States Department of the Treasury estimates that congestion consumed an extra 1.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2011, approximately 5 percent of all the gasoline used. Studies show drivers encounter an average of 10 to 15 red lights and stop signs on a typical 20-mile commute, which can add from 5 to 15 minutes of idle time and wasted fuel.

“We expect the average Fusion driver with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and Auto Start-Stop can recover the $295 cost of this technology through real-world fuel savings in less than 18 months,” said Samantha Hoyt, Fusion Marketing manager.