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Dealers worried about alternative engine demand

UK car dealers are worried that manufacturers developing alternative engines will not be ready to cope with the rise in customer demand for ‘green’ technology in the near future.

Maritz Research, the international market research agency, polled 1,250 car dealers across Europe and found that almost half fear losing customers by 2010, if the manufacturer brand they carry does not offer customers a choice of models with alternative, non-petrol or diesel, engines.

Half of dealers questioned believe they will not be able to capitalise on the £340 -£1,000 premium they believe customers would be willing to pay for an alternative engine choice comparable to a petrol or diesel model.

Christian Vorwerck, director marketing Europe at Maritz Research, said: “Manufacturers who do not or cannot provide a variety of models with alternative engines, risk losing a huge amount of potential sales.

“In the current climate, the market for alternative engines is showing a steady increase in demand and there are indicators that the debate over green auto technologies will not go away. Some manufacturers are responding to consumer demand and angst over environmentally friendly technologies but others are lagging behind in their development and are not bringing models to market quickly enough.

“Ultimately, if they don’t introduce alternative powertrain ranges utilising technologies like hybrid electric, biofuels and LPG line with consumer demand, it will be a lose-lose situation for manufacturers, dealers and consumers.”

The survey found that 54% of UK car dealers believe Toyota has the most environmentally friendly portfolio of cars. Coming a distant second and third respectively, 16% of dealers think Lexus offers an environmentally friendly car range while 10% believe Ford offers environmentally friendly cars.

Dealers also showed low confidence among dealers of European manufacturers’ green credentials. Only 4% of dealers think Volkswagen make the most environmentally friendly cars while another 4% of dealers believe Vauxhall offer customers greener vehicles.

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