Survey: Young drivers prefer electric cars

Lusting for a Lamborghini or Bentley? Not if you grew up listening to the Backstreet Boys and winning trophies for, umm, everything. A new survey finds that most Gen Y consumers (a k a "Millennials") have a high affinity for green, eco-friendly vehicles versus any other type of car.

Researchers at Deloitte found 59% of Gen Y respondents preferred alternative power. Hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles won over 57% of respondents, and pure battery electric vehicles got 2% of the vote; by contrast, vehicles with a traditional gas-only power train were preferred by only 37%.

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Contrary to stereotypes, this young generation seems to know a good value when it sees one: Fuel efficiency is the biggest appeal. In fact, close to half (49%) of Gen Y customers are willing to pay an extra $300 for each mile per gallon of improvement they can get out of a hybrid, according to Deloitte.

In a release, Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practice leader at Deloitte, forecast 25% of new vehicles sold this year and 40% of cars sold in the next decade are likely to be purchased by a Gen Y'er, comprising about 80 million Americans. For many, it will be their first-ever car purchase and a chance for manufacturers to create repeat loyal customers.

Besides fuel efficiency, young drivers want cars packed with technology, like touch screens and smartphone applications, so here's a closer look at four vehicles -- some currently on the market, others about to enter -- with appeal to Generation Y.

Toyota Prius c

The latest of the Prius family enters the market in March with a starting price of $19,000. The "c" stands for "city," characterizing the vehicle's urban-friendliness. Toyota says its newest model gets the best city mpg rating of any vehicle without a plug, getting an average 53 mpg on the highway. Added tech perks include multiple audio system configurations, including a USB port with iPod connectivity, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, and music streaming via Bluetooth.

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Hailed as one of the hottest new cars debuting at the Detroit Auto Show, the latest Ford Fusion has been fiercely restyled. The hybrid version is expected to get an average 47 mpg in the city and its MyFord Touch feature lets drivers play music, control interior climate and make calls hands-free. Sales are expected to start mid-2012.

Chevrolet Volt

The Volt offers two sources of energy: An electric source - a battery - that lets you drive gas-free for 35 miles and there's an onboard gas generator that produces electricity, letting you drive another 375 additional miles on a full tank of gas. Starting in March GM's expected to roll out an updated version of its Chevy Volt that meets California's emissions standards, allowing California buyers to qualify for a state rebate, on top of the existing $7,500 federal tax break. Pricing starts at around $32,000.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Hitting dealerships around the end of 2012, the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid boasts about 45 mpg, nearly double what the regular gas Jetta gets. For Gen Y'ers who enjoy the thrill of driving, this car boasts Autobahn-proven technology, making it one of the fastest compact hybrids. Pricing info is not available yet.

Deloitte's 4th annual survey questioned 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomers in the U.S., as well as 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 in Western Europe between September and October 2011. In the study, Gen Y is aged 19 to 31.