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Survey Finds Americans Support Energy Independence, Hydrogen-Based Economy

Perception Gap Exists on Domestic Record of Technology Accomplishments

WASHINGTON - Americans believe energy security should be the top priority of U.S. energy policy, voicing wide support for a "moon shot" effort to develop a hydrogen economy in a survey released today by Peter D. Hart Research Associates on behalf of General Motors.

The survey (PDF), presented by Peter Hart and Elizabeth Lowery, GM vice president for Environment and Energy, found that reducing dependence on foreign oil is a top priority for Americans, who give much less credit to domestic automakers versus their Japanese counterparts when it comes to meeting that challenge. The survey was released today at a meeting of the Washington Automotive Press Association.

"The survey shows broad support for continued partnership between government and industry in the development of a hydrogen economy, an effort that GM has been aggressively pursuing with the U.S. Department of Energy and numerous corporate and research partners," said Lowery, who addressed association members. "But while the survey shows that Americans support the same goals that are at the heart of GM's overall advanced technology strategy for improving efficiency, it's troubling what little credit we're getting. Clearly we've got our work cut out for us in communicating GM's accomplishments and our commitment to developing advanced technologies."

The nationwide telephone survey of a representative cross-section of 1,004 adults, conducted June 17-20, 2005, explored Americans' attitudes toward U.S. energy policy and emerging automotive technologies. The survey has an overall margin of error of +3.1%.

Key Survey Findings

The Importance of Energy Independence: The desire for U.S. energy independence ranked much higher than other considerations presented to survey respondents, including increasing fuel efficiency, reducing pollution and emissions, and keeping fuel costs low. Specifically:

  • When asked what the most important goal of U.S. energy policy should be, 43 percent said "reducing dependence on foreign oil" - much higher than "improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles" (20 percent), "reducing pollution and harmful emissions" (19 percent) and "keeping fuel costs low" (15 percent).
  • When asked the main reason why automakers need to develop alternative technologies, 49 percent cited "energy independence" compared to 29 percent who cited "environmental" reasons and 17 percent who cited "economic" reasons.

Support for Hydrogen: The public embraces the development of new technologies and alternative fuels that will produce more energy-efficient vehicles, and sees hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as the best solution to reducing gas consumption and emissions. For that reason, a majority favors government support of hydrogen development. Specifically:

  • 79 percent of respondents described advances in automotive technology as "absolutely critical" or "very important."
  • A plurality (29 percent) described hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles as those with the best chance for long-term success, compared to 23 percent for hybrids and 18 percent for traditional gas-powered engines.
  • 65 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. government should make a major funding commitment to transform the auto industry from a gasoline-based system to a hydrogen-based system.

Perceptions of GM: There is a major gap between public perceptions of GM's efforts to develop energy-efficient vehicles and its actual record and accomplishments in this area. However, people's favorable feelings toward GM increase dramatically once they learn what GM is doing, and their overall impression of GM is favorable. Specifically:

  • While a plurality of Americans (31 percent) felt GM has done the worst job in developing energy-efficient technologies, 14 percent felt that GM has done the best job of developing technologies, the third highest ranking of automakers in that category.
  • When informed of GM's fuel economy record, development of hybrid trucks and buses and investments in hydrogen research, 73 percent of respondents said they felt more favorable toward GM.
  • 60 percent of respondents feel favorable toward GM, the highest ranking of any domestic automaker and on the same tier as Toyota and Honda.

"GM believes strongly in the global technology strategy we have laid out, and we are executing and delivering on that strategy across all technologies, from advanced gasoline engines and alternative fuels to hybrids and fuel cell vehicles," said Lowery. "GM is committed to driving the transformation of the auto industry, and confident in its ability to make our vision of a hydrogen economy a reality and deliver its many benefits to our consumers, economy and society."

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, employs about 323,000 people globally. Founded in 1908, GM has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM today has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 192 countries. In 2004, GM sold nearly 9 million cars and trucks, up 4 percent and the second-highest total in the company's history. GM's global headquarters are at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM, its advanced technologies and environmental initiatives can be found on the company's corporate website at www.gmability.com.


Source:  General Motors

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