Selling The Alternative: Keeping: Up With Consumer Demand For Fuel Efficiency

October 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

Dealers are constantly monitoring trends that impact their buyers. With gas prices hovering around $3 per gallon, consumers are becoming more conscious about alternative fuel options, and dealers are looking for ways to meet these needs.

Hybrids, biodiesel and other alternative methods are no longer a niche market. AIADA reported sales of hybrids will reach 344,000 by 2008, up from 177,000 in 2005. Consumers are looking for ways to not only cut costs at the gas pump for the short-term, but also to find a long-term solution to the issue of global oil supply.

As the No. 1 automotive site on the Internet, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, with more than 11 million unique visitors per month and a vehicle sold every minute, eBay Motors has become a popular destination for alternative fuel vehicles. The Toyota Prius has been a very popular car on the site for several years, and numerous other biodiesel vehicle listings continue to appear.

To assist sellers in highlighting vehicles with alternative fuel methods and to help buyers identify these types of vehicles, eBay Motors has added a “Fuel Type” attribute as an item specific that can be seen in vehicle listings. Item specifics provide the basic information about the vehicle such as make, model, mileage, color, engine type, VIN, etc. Though alternative fuel vehicles have been sold on eBay Motors for years, the new addition will allow buyers searching for environmentally friendly vehicles to quickly find alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids. In addition, it also helps sellers more prominently market them on the site.

The list of fuel type options includes: Biodiesel, CNG, Diesel, Electric, Ethanol-FFV, Gasoline, Hybrid-Electric, Steam or Other.

A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows most Americans expect that global oil supplies will not be able to keep up with future demand, with the effects evident in another generation or two. Furthermore, the study also showed the public expects that within 30 years, most U.S. automobiles will run primarily on alternative sources of fuel.

Dealers with access to alternative fuel vehicles should highlight them. Additionally, they should be prepared to educate an audience of consumers eager to find cost-cutting solutions to high gas prices. Many of these customers may not fully understand the difference in operation and maintenance for fuel efficient vehicles.

The fuel type is set to become a fundamental feature consumers will look at when shopping for a vehicle. As the fuel price debate continues, fuel type will likely remain one of the top consideration points in vehicle purchase decisions.
Vol 3, Issue 8

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