Hybrid Cars Take Off Dramatically

John Davis

rlpolk.gifA new report from R.L. Polk & Co. says sales of hybrid vehicles rose 38 percent in 2007, compared to the previous year. The report also points out that better technologies and infrastructure are needed for ethanol- and biodiesel-powered vehicles to live up to their sales potential.

This press release from the automotive marketing and research company says the economical Toyota Prius, which runs on gas and charges batteries as it drives, still leads the pack with just more than 50 percent of all hybrid sales:

“Auto buyers are benefiting from new hybrid launches, and fleecing of old models that didn’t work. There is a lot of excitement being generated within the industry as manufacturers adjust plans to adapt to consumer demand,” said Lonnie Miller, director of Industry Analysis at Polk. “While the Toyota Prius has a stronghold on the midsize car hybrid segment, the Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape share leadership positions in the SUV hybrid segment. As hybrid buyers migrate within a brand, manufacturers have to be prepared to meet their expectations for offerings if they want consumers to remain loyal.”

While most of the market continues to see hybrid models enabled by various forms of gas-electric powertrains, the entire hybrid segment will evolve as other technologies are developed and tested. With the end-goal of providing more fuel-efficient vehicles, future offerings will expand beyond the current generation of hybrid models.

“Hybrids are a great foray into the world of fuel-efficiency for many buyers,” said Miller. “Unfortunately, we still have an uphill battle for diesel and ethanol adoption given the need for more consumer education and improvements with filling station infrastructure. It will be interesting to see how more advanced technologies progress this whole category, but they can’t come soon enough.”

Ironically, oil-rich Oklahoma had the largest increase in hybrid sales… up 148 percent! In addition, high gas prices seem to be pushing the hybrid markets in places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco where drivers are putting up with some of the highest prices in the country. Those markets combined make up nearly 20 percent of all hybrid sales.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, News