Drivers Would Pay More for Vehicles With Carbon-Capture Technology, Study Says


  • University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute Picture

    University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute Picture

    A new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute gauged how receptive drivers would be to in-vehicle technologies that reduce carbon emissions. | September 17, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • A new survey shows many drivers would pay more for a car with onboard carbon-capture technology that reduces emissions.
  • The survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says drivers would pay $100 more for a car that reduced emissions by 20 percent.
  • An 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions would be worth $250 more, according to the survey.

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — A new survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that many drivers would be willing to pay more for a vehicle with onboard technology that captures carbon emissions for later storage or reuse.

Respondents to the survey of 574 drivers said they would pay an additional $100 for a car that reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent and $250 more for an 80 percent reduction.

According to the survey, the respondents also said they'd be willing to accept a 5 percent loss in fuel economy to achieve a 20 percent reduction in emissions and would put up with 10 percent worse mileage for an 80 percent cut in emissions.

When asked how much trunk space they'd give up for the good of the environment, drivers said they could do with 10 percent less storage in exchange for a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions. And they'd go as high as 16 percent to save 80 percent in pollution.

These are the findings of A Survey of Driver Opinion about Carbon Capture in Vehicles, co-authored by John M. Sullivan, Michael Sivak, and Brandon Schoettle.

The researchers note, however, that "willingness to pay for or accept reductions in fuel economy or storage space in exchange for reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions seems to greatly depend on the belief that there is a relationship between carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity and global warming."

A section of the survey that explored personal views on the subject elicited a wide variety of opinions, which the researchers found to have considerable impact on the respondents' answers.

For example, some drivers said they would be willing to pay as much as $1,000 to achieve a 20 percent reduction in emissions, while others answered that they would not pay anything. For an 80 percent savings in emissions, some said they'd pay as much as $2,000, and others said zero. The variance in these answers was found to be in alignment with the respondents' feelings about global warming.

In another portion of the survey, researchers inquired about the drivers' opinions on conventional power plants with carbon-capture technology versus hybrid or electric vehicles. To achieve a 20 percent reduction in emissions, 62.5 percent of respondents said they'd prefer a hybrid or electric, but that same percentage said they'd opt for a carbon-capture vehicle if the technology could save 80 percent in emissions.

The idea of capturing unused carbon is not a new one. The basic concept has been in use for decades as a means of increasing efficiency in some industrial processes, like natural-gas extraction. But capturing carbon for the purpose of reducing greenhouse emissions is a newer concept, with much work still to be done.

Further development of the technology has proven controversial, however. Some environmental groups vigorously oppose carbon-capture, believing its widespread adoption would impede alternative-fuel research.

Another major issue is where to store the captured material. The current process is to pump it underground or under the ocean, which has also caused uproar among environmentalists.

But research is being conducted worldwide, both to find environmentally acceptable storage solutions and to develop ways to convert the carbon into fuel or other useful products.

Edmunds says: At the moment, carbon-capture and reuse for automobiles remains largely theoretical, but the UMTRI survey seems to indicate that many of us would be willing to pay more for a vehicle that has the technology.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Marketplace

up2drive

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan


Car.com

Credit Problems?
We can help you get Financing!

ADVERTISEMENT
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat*
Chat online with us
Email
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific