Why Hybrid Cars Are Really Becoming Popular Among Older Drivers

Automakers, take note. When it comes to cars, older consumers are just as concerned with keeping up appearances as their younger counterparts. And they're looking to go green.

Older consumers look for a quality ride that will give them pride and prestige when they are car shopping, a new Baylor University consumer study shows. Environmentally-friendly or "green" hybrid cars allow older drivers to save money on gas while also filling them with a sense of pride for helping the environment -- a combination that drives customer loyalty.

Researchers questioned 314 consumers age 60 and older who had bought hybrid cars. Their responses show that image is key, in addition to quality and price.

"The findings suggest that elderly consumers are concerned about how they appear to others when driving a hybrid car," the researchers said in a release. "They believe that driving a hybrid car builds a positive self-image of the people who drive them."

In addition to being able and willing to pay more, post 50s are more likely to be environmentally friendly than younger people. A survey by retirement community developer Del Webb found 87 percent of older Americans have considered investing in green technology and 54 percent are interested in buying hybrid cars.

Sales of hybrid cars have risen in recent years, rising by around 73 percent from 2011 to 2012 to an estimated 440,000 units, according to market research firm Mintel.

"This knowledge can help as a marketing tool," said Jay Yoo, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor University, in a release. "Hybrid cars have increased in visibility because of their environmental consciousness. So people may be willing to pay an extra $5,000 or so in order to think, 'I'm great, and this is good for the environment'."

The good news for automakers is that post 50s control a significant portion of disposable income in the economy and that the size of the older consumer group is still growing.

Would you consider switching to a hybrid car?

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