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Survey: Consumers skeptical of hybrids

Cost of servicing hybrid system, and its lifetime performance among consumers' main concerns.

July 14, 2005; Posted: 11:44 p.m. EDT (0344 GMT)

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Wary of purchasing that hybrid car even though gas prices are pinching your wallet?

You're not alone.

According to a survey released Thursday, a majority of consumers are skeptical of hybrid technology even though they feel that hybrid vehicles, which use electric motors in addition to gasoline engines, are likely the future for the American automobile.

In an online survey, conducted by Kelley Blue Book, more than half of 425 individuals polled said they are not interested in purchasing a hybrid or said that they needed more information about the technology.

"Although they've been hyped in the media, the average consumer still questions whether hybrids are for them," says Jack Nerad the editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Based on the results of this study, it seems the auto manufacturers still have work to do before alleviating consumer concerns about the long-term viability of current hybrid technology."

The two most important causes of consumer skepticism, according to the survey, were the potential costs of servicing a hybrid vehicle and maintenance over its lifetime.

Sixty-one percent of consumers said they were worried about the servicing costs to fix a hybrid, while 55 percent of those polled expressed concern about the longevity of the battery pack.

Taking a back seat to maintenance concerns were worries about driving performance or delivering the promised level of fuel efficiency.

At the same time, consumers are optimistic about the future of hybrid technology.

More than half of those polled said that in five to ten years, hybrid cars will be able to deliver the same performance as a gasoline engine, while 36 percent said that they believe that hybrid engines will take over the automobile market in that time.

A third of those surveyed maintain that today's gasoline engine will continue to be the engine of choice for automakers.

While consumers typically pay more for a hybrid car than its gasoline counterparts, the Kelley Blue Book survey learned that of those individuals who would consider purchasing a hybrid, they are willing to pay, on average, $2,355 more to own one.

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