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Press Releases

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

SU Student Investigates Economics of 'Green Movement'

SALISBURY, MD--Data on why people choose to buy hybrid vehicles is growing and high gas prices are frequently thought to be the primary motivation.

When Julie Butler, an economics major from La Plata, MD, speaks at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), at SU April 10-12, however, she will present a different conclusion.

Her paper, “The Demand for Hybrid Vehicles: A Statistical Model,” compares the high cost of purchasing a hybrid vehicle to its accrued gas savings. She found that the purchaser may have to wait as long as 15 years before seeing any financial benefit. This made her suspicious of the belief that gas savings are the most important reason for hybrid buyers.

Using econometric techniques, Butler constructed a least squares regression model to track the influence of variables such as gas prices and tax breaks on the sales of hybrid vehicles. The variables correlated with sales, but did not fully account for them. Butler suspects that other variables also provide strong influences on buying hybrids, such as the decision to “go green” or uneducated buying that does not consider how long it will take to recoup the extra expense of a hybrid.

“Hybrid vehicles are part of a growing market and we’ll need to constantly create new models to bring us up- to-date with the variables,” Butler said. She gives suggestions for further research, suggesting ideas for staying on top of such a rapidly-developing field.

NCUR is the largest undergraduate research conference in the nation. Some 2,400 undergraduate scholars from 400 institutions and representing more than 55 disciplines are participating.

For more information call 410-677-5046 or visit the NCUR Web site at

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