More drivers using green to go “Green”

Latest Experian study shows consumers buying an alternative-powered vehicle are more likely to use cash than those buying a gas vehicle

Schaumburg, Ill., April 22, 2015 — In honor of Earth Day, Experian Automotive found that consumers that purchased an alternative-powered vehicle did not just go Green by cutting back on fossil fuel, but they used more green to buy them — cold hard cash. According to a recent analysis of the alternative-powered vehicle market, findings showed that in 2014, more than 18 percent of consumers that purchased a “Green” vehicle paid in cash, compared to 15.24 percent of those that purchased a gas-powered vehicle.

“Despite the increases we have seen in automotive financing over the past few years, it’s interesting that a larger percentage of consumers buying ‘Green’ vehicles are choosing to buy with cash,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian. “To put it in context, nationally, consumers purchased new vehicles with cash roughly only 16 percent of the time. A possible reason for this could be that consumers buying ‘Green’ vehicles are in the highest credit tiers, which could indicate they have more disposable income than those buying a gas vehicle.”

INFOGRAPHIC: A breakdown of the alternative-power-vehicle market

By being in the highest credit tiers, consumers purchasing “Green” vehicles also tend to be a slightly lower credit risk than those purchasing traditional models. Nearly 83 percent of consumers who purchased an alternative-powered vehicle fell within the prime credit category, compared to 71.5 percent of consumers who purchased a gas-powered vehicle. Additionally, the average credit score of a consumer purchasing “Green” was 737, while it was 711 for traditional vehicles.

  Average loan score Average lease score % prime+ consumers (loan) % prime+ consumers (lease)
Alternative-powered vehicles 737 727 82.6% 80.1%
Gas-powered vehicles 711 718 71.5% 75.7%

Going Green going out of style?
From an overall market perspective, the percentage of new registered alternative-powered vehicles experienced a slight decrease year-over, going from 4.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014.

“While consumers purchasing an alternative-powered vehicle can satisfy their environmentally conscious side, the influx of traditionally powered vehicles with extremely high fuel efficiency have presented more options for consumers looking to save a buck at the fuel pump,” continued Zabritski.

At the model level, nearly 50 percent of all “Green” vehicles registered in 2014 were Toyotas, led by the Toyota Prius (24.7 percent). The remaining top 10 included the Toyota Prius C (7.4 percent), Ford Fusion (6.9 percent), Toyota Camry (6.8 percent), Nissan Leaf (5.8 percent), Toyota Prius V (5.7 percent), Ford C-Max (4.2 percent), Hyundai Sonata (3.8 percent), Chevrolet Volt (3.5 percent) and Lexus CT 200h (3.3 percent).

For traditionally powered vehicles, the top model was the Honda Accord (3 percent), followed by the Ford F150 (2.8 percent), Honda CR-V (2.7 percent), Toyota Camry (2.6 percent), Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (2.6 percent), Honda Civic (2.6 percent), Toyota Corolla (2.2 percent), Toyota RAV4 (2.0 percent), Nissan Altima (2.0 percent) and the Ford Escape (2.0 percent).

Top 10 "Green" models   Top 10 traditional models
Make/Model Percentage   Make/Model Percentage
Toyota Prius 24.7 percent   Honda Accord 3.0 percent
Toyota Prius C 7.4 percent   Ford F150 2.8 percent
Ford Fusion 6.9 percent   Honda CR-V 2.7 percent
Toyota Camry 6.8 percent   Toyota Camry 2.6 percent
Nissan Leaf 5.8 percent   Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2.6 percent
Toyota Prius V 5.7 percent   Honda Civic 2.6 percent
Ford C-Max 4.2 percent   Toyota Corolla 2.2 percent
Hyundai Sonata 3.8 percent   Toyota RAV4 2.0 percent
Chevrolet Volt 3.5 percent   Nissan Altima 2.0 percent
Lexus CT 200h 3.3 percent   Ford Escape 2.0 percent

“Gaining insight into what’s happening in the different segments of the market allows consumers to paint a clearer picture of what options are most popular, but it also enables dealers and manufacturers to adjust their strategies and make more informed decisions,” continued Zabritski. “By leveraging these insights, dealers and manufacturers are able to use this data for good, by providing inventory that not only meets the needs of the market, but also better fits in with consumer demand.”

Other findings:
• In 2014, 53.3 percent of consumers took out a loan to purchase a “Green” vehicle, while 59.4 percent of consumers took out a loan to purchase a traditional model
• For leases, 28.2 percent of consumers leased an alternative-powered vehicle in 2014, compared to 25.1 percent of consumers leasing a gas-powered vehicle
• The average loan for an alternative-powered vehicle in 2014 was $27,288, compared to $27,817 for a gas-powered vehicle
• In 2014, the average monthly payment for an alternative-powered vehicle was $468; gas-powered vehicles were $473
• The average lease payment for an alternative-powered vehicle was $358, compared to $407 for a gas-powered vehicle
• The top five states with the highest percentage of alternative-powered vehicle registrations in 2014 were California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Georgia

About Experian Automotive
Experian Automotive provides information services and market intelligence that enables results-driven professionals to gain the fullest possible understanding of the market, the vehicles and the people who buy them. Its North American Vehicle DatabaseSM houses data on nearly 700 million vehicles and, when combined with Experian’s credit, consumer and business information, provides an integrated perspective into the automotive marketplace. Experian Automotive’s AutoCheck® vehicle history reports provide dealers and consumers with in-depth information, allowing them to confidently understand, compare and select the right vehicles. For more information on Experian Automotive and its suite of services, visit our Website at

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