See many hybrid vehicles while driving to work or in the parking garage? No? These cars have been sold for more than 10 years, yet adoption is still low. Our consumer data tells us that people are concerned with the environment and that their concern is growing. So why aren't more folks going green and buying up hybrids?

We have tackled that question by applying our Convenience Quotient (CQ) analysis to the concept of green commuting in a metro area — Boston, in particular. In the recently published report, we looked at various modes of commuting: walking, bicycling, public transportation, car-sharing services, and various self-owned automobiles, including a regular Honda Civic, a Toyota Prius, a Ford Escape hybrid SUV, and the forthcoming Nissan LEAF. We identified three different scenarios for commuters: urban dwellers (within 2 miles of the city center), inner suburban dwellers (within 8 miles of the city center) and outer suburban dwellers (within 16 miles of the city center). We then applied our CQ methodology, defining the benefits of each option as well as the barriers to adoption, and scored each mode of transportation accordingly.

Our findings: The green automobiles delivered a slightly more convenient commuting experience than the Honda Civic, but multiple significant barriers stand in the way of green automobiles being considered convenient green commuting solutions, particularly those associated with cost. Green-specific benefits are also limited, which do not counter-balance the barriers for hybrid and electric cars. We also found that urban consumers have many green alternatives available to them, thus diminishing the attractiveness of using a hybrid car to get to work.

While this analysis focused specifically on green commuting, in the report we draw other conclusions that relate to consumer product strategy professionals overall — such as how geography plays a role in product strategy, why the most obvious benefit of a product may not drive adoption, and the types of consumer benefits that we find to be most prevalent across our CQ research.

Have you considered buying a hybrid but have balked for some reason? Or maybe you already have a hybrid — if so, did you struggle to overcome these barriers to adoption, or was it an easy decision to make? Does your green mode of transportation actually deliver benefits?