Polk's study tracked repurchase rates of consumers in eco-friendly markets -- including Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; and San Diego, among others -- and discovered that those customers were only slightly more loyal to hybrid vehicles than the nation at large. The top eco-friendly market, West Palm Beach, Fla., had a repurchase rate of 43.2 percent.
Plache of Edmunds.com said that even among groups known for their environmental consciousness, hybrid purchase rates aren't always high:
People talk about the 'Gen Ys' on the market, and how much more concerned they are about doing the environmentally friendly thing. But when you look at the cost of hybrids and electrics, the differences are often too great. Unless the numbers are there, it's hard to justify making that purchase for the purpose of saying, 'I'm living greener.'
In the future, sales of full hybrids may be affected by "partial-hybrid" technology, such as start-stop systems. In those cases, consumers will be able to get some of the benefits of hybrids with lower initial costs, Plache said. "As CAFÉ standards increase, you're going to see more and more automakers adding hybrid 'parts' to their cars. At some point, the line between hybrids and conventional vehicles will be less distinct than it is today."
In the meantime, Polk will continue to watch gasoline prices and work closely with its customers to analyze its impact on hybrid sales. Smith said to date, gas prices have had little or no impact on hybrid segment loyalty.
There's no clear-cut answer to the fuel price concerns of today. Until there's a more definitive answer on what the technology of tomorrow will be, consumers will continue to make purchases based on what's comfortable. And today, that's still gasoline.
For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller.
I think the fact that hybrid owners aren't ponying up when they're back in the car market for another hybrid vehicle has to speak volumes. Unless the data shows they're ponying up for another type of alternative vehicle like a pure EV, I don't know how you can interpret the findings any other way but to say the technology is losing ground. We all know it's much easier to sell something to someone who has already purchased it once or bought into the overall value proposition. I find these findings pretty disheartening.
Charles, you are right, those who have hybrid cars, won't prefer it again. The initial cost for hybrid cars are more when compare with stand alone fuel vehicles. I had a hybrid car and I feel that, when am switching out of gasoline, the engine power and pulling are comes down. I mean the engine is not outputting 100% of its performance. This is a disappointing factor for those who love crazy driving.
I have had my hybrid for just over a year, and when the time comes, I may not buy another. But it's not because I am not happy with it. The Chrysler Aspen Two Mode Hemi Hybrid was only produced for about 1/2 of the 2009 model year. When it comes time to replace it, I don't know if I will be able to find another hybrid rated to tow - the Aspen is rated to tow 6000 lbs. I looked at the Ford Escape and Toyota Highlander hybrids and their spec's were lacklustre when compared to the Aspen. When (if ?) the SUV and truck market opens up to the idea of hybrids, there might be another Chrysler Aspen. I think Dodge has a truck package that is similar to a hybrid, but I think the selling point was the truck with a generator package for remote construction sites.
Beth, another disturbing statistic is the market penetration rate. It is declining. It is also very small.
I looked at hybrids recently. One of the ones I saw had a break even period of at least 2 years. That seemed fairly good since I would keep a car for much longer than that. On the other hand, I think that was optomistic. So, considering the points made in the article, it seems that gasoline vehicles will catch up to hybrids in total cost of ownership (TCO) before long. In many technology businesses TCO is an important selling point. In the consumer field this is becoming important as well.
Interesting statistics in this article, Chuck. I guess the big question is whether the hybrid owners who chose not to continue with a hybrid went on to buy an EV. It could be that those devoted enough to get a hybrid would be even more interested in an EV now that there are more choices in the EV world.
Good article which brought out some relevent points on hybrid perception vs. reality. I was mildly surprised that the data didn't show a stronger loyalty from those who claim to be very concerned with the environment. Also, I was expecting gas prices to impact hybrid segment loyalty more. I supposed there will be a critical threshold that gasoline prices reach where this trend will start to reverse itself.
The question I have after reading the article (and maybe I just didn't see it) is whether the Hybrid owners are in the market to REPLACE their hybrid, or to get a second car. It's a bit soon in the non-Prius Hybrid market to talk about replacements, so I'd have to assume not.
If I'm replacing my Hybrid (a 2010) I'd probably buy another. My Hybrid mid-size get's better mileage and performance (yes, I want both) than the compact cars I test drove at the time of my original purchase.
If I'm replacing my 25 year old Jeep (which needs to haul and tow), I'd look at the Hybrid SUV's and trucks, but chances are I wouldn't get a Hybrid.
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