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Owners of Costly Cars Don’t Let Riders Smoke, Survey Finds

From Associated Press

It’s a smoker’s Saab story: Owners of costly cars don’t want their passengers puffing away inside the deluxe interiors, a survey found.

Seventy percent of the people who own 2-to-3-year-old cars don’t let anyone smoke inside, and about half would rather see auto makers eliminate lighters and ashtrays from cars, the survey of more than 23,000 car owners found.

BMW and Saab owners led the anti-smoking brigade, with 84% enforcing smoke-free cabins. Least likely to ban the butts were Yugo owners, with nearly 50% letting people light up inside.

J. D. Power, the Agoura Hills, Calif., research group, included the smoking questions in a national survey of owners of cars registered in May through October, 1987, aimed at gauging opinions of vehicles after the new-car honeymoon is over.

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In the survey:

* Only 31% of respondents allowed smoking in their cars.

* Those most likely to bar it were BMW and Saab owners, 84%; Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen owners, 82%; Porsche owners, 81%, and Audi owners, 80%.

* Those most likely to allow it were Yugo owners, 50%; Hyundai owners, 45%, and Isuzu owners, 40%.

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Auto makers are mixed, however, on whether they plan to start accommodating their nonsmoking customers.

BMW plans to offer storage bins instead of ashtrays starting in May on some of its cars. Instead of lighters, it will offer a covered auxiliary power socket.

Ford Motor Co. has no immediate plans to drop ashtrays, spokesman Paul Preuss said. “They don’t take up that much space,” he said, adding that “some people get very frustrated when they can’t smoke.”

Chrysler Corp. will continue to include ashtrays. But they may eventually give way to dual-purpose ashtrays and cup holders, or cup holders alone, spokesman Tom Kowaleski said.

General Motors Corp. spokesman John Mueller said he knows of no ashtray-less vehicles in the works.


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