IRVINE, Calif. — When it comes to new-car purchases, consumers who are concerned with environmental responsibility and economic stability believe they can meet their needs with the purchase of a green car, according to Autobytel’s recent "What’s Hot Now" report.

Autobytel said in the wake of the Gulf oil spill and concerns about the environment and the economy, consumers are interested in vehicles that can contribute to a greener earth as well as lessen the impact on their pocketbook.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed revealed an interest in purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle in the next 12 months. Economics was a leading factor in the purchase of an alternative fuel vehicle with over 50 percent reporting “economics, better gas mileage”, but being “environmentally responsible” and “reducing dependence on foreign oil” were two other reasons cited by 39 percent of the respondents.

Autobytel’s report reveals strong green vehicle purchasing trends – and more susceptibility to environmental concerns – in the next generation of car buyers. One out of four respondents under 25 years of age report they are definitely considering purchasing an alternative fuel or high mpg vehicle in the next 12 months. Over half of those surveyed said that environmental factors impacted their likelihood to buy a green vehicle.

“Consumers are interested in being fiscally and environmentally responsible when considering their next vehicle purchase,” said Jeff Coats, president and CEO, Autobytel. “Our latest ‘What’s Hot Now’ report reveals good news for the makers of alternative energy and high mpg vehicles.”

Over 2,000 consumers responded to Autobytel’s survey in July. Key results of the study revealed the following:

Green Potential High in Next 12 Months, Two to Five Years

• Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they are likely to consider purchasing a green (electric, hybrid, high mpg) vehicle in the next 12 months. Nine percent said “definitely” considering, 17 percent said “seriously” considering and 31 percent said “maybe.”

• A total of 75 percent of respondents said they either “intend” (19 percent) or “might consider” (56 percent) purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle in the next two to five years.

Economy Impacts Buying Choices

• “Economics, better gas mileage” is the No. 1 reason cited by respondents for purchasing a green vehicle (51 percent).

• Gas prices impact vehicle purchase choices for 80 percent of the respondents.

• $3.50 a gallon is the gas pump price point at which most respondents (34 percent) would be more likely to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle.

Under 25s: Generation Green

• Seventy-three percent of respondents under the age of 25 are actively considering a green vehicle purchase within the next 12 months, compared to 56 percent of those in the over-25 demographic.

• Environmental factors (such as pollution levels and global warming) impact their likelihood to purchase a green vehicle (53 percent), compared to the over-25 demographic (44 percent).

• Over 80 percent “intend to purchase” or “might consider buying” a green vehicle in the next two to five years, compared to 75 percent in the over-25 demographic.

Hybrid Still Tops

• Gas/electric hybrid is the fuel-efficient technology most likely to be considered (38 percent), while small, high MPG gas vehicles are second (14 percent) and electric plug-ins and fuel cells come in at 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.