One of the biggest challenges carmakers face in selling eco- friendly vehicles is convincing customers to pay a premium for the privilege of knowing that they’re doing their part to help the environment. One of the key problems is that the majority of new car buyers aren’t willing to pay this premium. That’s the finding of the latest study run by J.D. Power and Associates based on responses from 44,931 new car buyers in the U.S.

The study found that although many new car buyers may want to purchase an environmentally friendly vehicle, only 11% are "very willing" to pay more to do so. In particular, new car buyers who express a strong willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly vehicles are more likely to be female and are highly educated with the highest concentration located in western U.S. and the lowest in the Midwest.

The study also finds that new car buyers who say they are very willing to pay more for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly are more likely to purchase compact vehicles than the average new car buyer. Most customers think of hybrids as the only green option, but as J.D. Power researcher Jon Osborn points out buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle that gets good mileage. Either way, it looks like hybrid vehicles will remain a hard sell for some years to come.