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Automotive X-Prize Website Launches, Includes Important Survey
Jul 30, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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The X-Prize, best known for the competition won by Spaceship One/Burt Rutan, has just unveiled its website for its Automotive prize, aimed at high-efficiency, low-emissions cars. The X-Prize is still developing rules and plans for its competition. See the site at http://auto.xprize.org; the blog (with a first posting that may be controversial) at: http://autoblog.xprize.org, and a White Paper plus the full survey from which we've reproduced the introduction summary at http://auto.xprize.org/­xprize/­why.html

June 27, 2006 Public Sees Big Gains from High Mileage Cars, but does not Expect them on the Market Soon

Despite a belief that high-mileage cars would bring major benefits, most Americans doubt such cars will be available soon, according to a new survey. Only 13 percent believe carmakers will be selling 100 mile-per-gallon cars in the U.S. within the next five years; only 37 percent believe this will happen within the next 10 years. On average, the public believes it will take over 25 years to reach this goal.

The public believes the main obstacle to the availability of such cars is that automakers and oil companies are blocking the technology from coming to market; over half the public, 52 percent, picks this as one of two main reasons. The next most selected reason - consumers don't care enough about high-mileage cars to buy them - lags far behind, selected by only 30 percent.

Even though the public doubts 100 mpg cars will reach the U.S. market any time soon, an over-whelming 81 percent say it would be extremely or very important if some project could make this happen in the next five years. Nearly half the public, 46 percent, say it would be "extremely" important. The main benefit the public would expect from such high-mileage cars is reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil, cited by 65 percent of all respondents as one of two main benefits. They see reduced driving costs as the next most important benefit (39 percent). They are less inclined to focus on such benefits as reduced air pollution (27 percent), combating global warming (24 percent), helping to revive the auto industry and its jobs (15 percent), or cutting oil company profits (14 percent).

There are some significant differences across types of respondents. For example, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say that a key benefit of high-mileage cars would be a reduction in global warming, picked by 31 percent of Democrats but just 15 percent of Republicans. Motorists who drive the most are more likely to believe it will take longer for automakers to offer high-mileage cars. Younger people are most likely to cite reduced driving costs as a benefit of such cars.

But what is more remarkable is that the major findings from this survey cut across virtually every political and demographic sub-group. Not a single major partisan or demographic sub-group believes 100 mpg cars will be available in less than 20 years. Every major sub-group believes the main obstacle is auto and oil companies blocking the technology. A super-majority of every major sub-group believes it would be extremely or very important to have high-mileage cars available in the next five years. And every major sub-group believes the main benefit would be less dependence on foreign oil. Thus, there is a strong consensus that there would be great benefits to bringing 100 mpg cars to market in the near future, but also that - under current conditions - this is unlikely to happen.

The findings are based on a series of questions added to an omnibus survey, based on telephone interviews with 1,000 registered voters, conducted June 4-7, 2006. The results are subject to a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.1 percent.

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