WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2014 — More than three-quarters (79%) of Americans say that fuel efficiency is more important than safety, body type or price, when purchasing a car.  That’s according to a new study, Driving Toward Change, which sheds light on the shifting preferences of American car buyers.  The research, sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) andPlastics Make it Possible®, surveyed drivers around the countryNearly three-quarters (72%) of participants say that fuel efficiency is more important to them now than it was just five years ago.

While most Americans say they would prioritize fuel efficiency over other automobile features, the study also reveals confusion over how to make a car more fuel-efficient. When asked about the relationship between vehicle weight and fuel economy, only about half of people (55%) recognized that a lighter-weight vehicle is more fuel-efficient.

“What many car buyers don’t realize is that lighter materials place less of a strain on a car’s engine and improve gas mileage,” said Steve Russell, vice president of ACC’s Plastics Division. “For many of today’s cars, plastics make up 50 percent by volume—but only 10 percent by weight, which is great news for Americans concerned about paying too much at the pump.”

Additional key findings of the Driving Toward Change study include:

  • Nearly four out of 10 (37%) admitted to driving further to get gas at a lower price.
  • Less than one-third (32%) think fuel efficiency would increase if a vehicle was made with more carbon fiber composites.
  • More than eight in 10 (83%) of Americans don’t know that a lighter-weight vehicle can be as safe as a heavier vehicle.

The auto industry is under increasing pressure to make cars and trucks more fuel efficient. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations require that carmakers increase fuel economy to nearly 55 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2025. In turn, the industry is seeking innovative solutions, which include replacing heavier materials with lighter-weight materials.

The research released today, conducted by Kelton Global, a leading global insights firm, is based on a survey of 1,014 adults (ages 18 and over) that gauged perceptions and sentiment on fuel efficiency, car buying and materials.

About the Plastics Division

The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division represents leading companies dedicated to providing innovative solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow through plastics. Ongoing innovations from America’s Plastics Makers() have led to medical advances and safety equipment that make our lives better, healthier and safer every day. And advances in plastics are helping Americans save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease waste. Because plastics are such a valuable resource, the Plastics Division is leading efforts to “reduce, reuse, recycle and recover,” including through outreach, education and access to advances in recycling technology.

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The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people’s lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is an $812 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation’s economy. It is the nation’s largest exporter, accounting for twelve percent of all U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.