Luxury consumers don't typically buy a non-luxury vehicle — unless it's a hybrid-electric version of that vehicle, according to a study commissioned by Acxiom Corp., a consumer data firm.

But just because those buyers are stepping down from their normal luxury category doesn't mean they expect less in terms of technology features and advanced amenities, such as GPS, onboard diagnostics and Bluetooth compatibility.

Key findings from the Automotive Consumer Dynamics study include:

  • Affluent buyers are influencing hybrid buying trends and present a large opportunity for hybrid sales growth.
  • Hybrid models are spurring brand switching, or conquesting, by as much as 10 percentage points higher than their non-hybrid counterparts.
  • Hybrid technology is causing mid-market hybrid models to make inroads with tech-savvy luxury consumers.

Affluent customers continue to set buying trends for this segment. By reaching only 5% of the 17 million households within this group, auto makers could double the number of hybrids sold in 2008 compared to last year, according to Acxiom.

“Clearly, these hybrid buyers are the trendsetters that are helping to shape the modern automotive landscape,” says Tim Longnecker, automotive industry executive for Acxiom.