Mike Stevens | Jan 20, 2012

Today's young motorists are drawn more by the green image of hybrids rather than the red-hot thrill of a V8, according to a new study by consultants Deloitte.

Surveying 1500 members of America's Generation Y, the study showed that 59 percent of respondents would choose an alternative-power vehicle over a regular petrol or diesel option.

A huge 57 percent of those lean to regular parallel hybrids, with just two percent showing an interest in all-electric vehicles.

Vehicles powered by a conventional petrol engine only were preferred by just 37 percent of Gen Y respondents. Not an insignificant slice of buyers, but certainly a sign of rapidly changing preferences in the market.

Deloitte says that in the US, Generation Y makes up 80 million of the nation's 312 million residents, forming one of the biggest automotive market segments and the largest consumer segment since the Baby Boomers.

Gadgets, personalisation and social media connectivity are also proving more important with today's young buyers, with 59 percent of Gen Y respondents pointing to in-dash technology as the most important part of a vehicle's interior.

Almost three quarters (73 percent) look for a touch-screen in their next car, and 72 percent require a high level of smartphone connectivity.

"Gen Y consumers clearly view their automobiles as more than just a way to get from point A to point B," Deloitte's Joe Vitale said, "They see them as a way to stay connected around the clock, and, they're willing to pay it."

Don't expect those features to become standard in a hurry, however. On average, Gen Y consumers are willing to spend more than US$3000 for optional hardware that delivers extended connectivity.

Proving they're aware of the dangers that come with distracting gadgets in the cabin, respondents rated advanced safety features as their second-most important priority (worryingly, behind the appeal of connectivity gadgets).

"Gen Y consumers are willing to pay for technology that can help them better manage all the distractions created by connectivity," says Vitale.

"On average, they will shell out approximately $2,000 for a bundle of safety features like collision-avoidance systems, blind spot detection and sleep alert systems."

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