“… and he is us”

By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACTION Magazine

The enemy we’ve met,  that is, according to Pogo, Walt Kelly’s cartoon possum in 1972. Although the famous line was originally uttered in a trash-filled swamp as two of the comic characters passed through, the words were quickly adopted as a catchphrase for many other causes.  A recent survey in the automotive world points out yet another example.

We see the world through our own eyes, and because we (you and I, our customers, friends, social circle and so on) are smart, alert and reasonably knowledgeable we expect the rest of the world to be the same. Once again, t’aint always so according to the results of a survey by Synovate Motoresearch.
The company performed a survey in fall of last year, speaking to almost 1900 new vehicle buyers, or those with intentions to buy very soon. They found that although hybrid vehicles are well into their second decade of availability, and the everyday media has been overflowing with ads and articles, (Volt, we’re looking at you…) the consumer’s knowledge of hybrid offerings and power trains “…is so low that it could prove a significant barrier to sales.”

Nobody expects alt-fuel and alt-power vehicles to be a huge hit right away, but the need for education outside our industry has been made plain. For example, Synovate found that many of those surveyed have no clue about how a hybrid powerplant differs from a full-electric vehicle or what a plug-in hybrid might be.

Some other individual data points from their study:

  • Few consumers know that hybrids have electric batteries and only two-thirds of those surveyed know that hybrids use both gasoline and batteries.
  • Many think all hybrids need to be plugged in.
  • Only a third of respondents knew that some gas-electric hybrids can run on the electric motor only, and fewer than half of all new vehicle buyers knew that some plug-in hybrids can run purely on electricity.
  • Others, according to Synovate, know that plug-in hybrids need to be plugged in, but most had no idea that such a vehicle uses gasoline.

The survey also revealed  widespread confusion about charge times and operation, particularly for all-electric cars that have no gasoline engine at all.

The report concludes “that education duties will have to be borne by the industry and government,”  but also wonders “…if consumers will become disillusioned when they understand the actual requirements of electric vehicles. Will the person…still buy the vehicle once they discover the need for plugs and 220-volt outlets? And if they become discouraged with the electric option will they stay and buy a different Chevy or Nissan or simply leave in confusion?”

When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, click here for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org or visit http://bit.ly/cf7az8 to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Visit http://bit.ly/9FxwTh to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.


About macsworldwide

Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Founded in 1981, MACS is the leading non-profit trade association for the mobile air conditioning, heating and engine cooling system segment of the automotive aftermarket. Since 1991, MACS has assisted more than 600,000 technicians to comply with the 1990 U.S. EPA Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment. The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide’s mission is clear and focused--as the recognized global authority on mobile air conditioning and heat transfer industry issues. www.macsw.org
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