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Registered: Jan 2002
NEWS: Hybrid Sales Losing Power
How To Recharge Hybrid Interest?
Hybrid Hype Losing Power
Except in select areas of California and some midwest states, sales of the gas-savers have lost steam even as new models like the Ford Escape HEV are proposed.
Maybe because it saves on gasoline by combining an electric motor with an internal combustion engine, offers great gas mileage and is easy on the ear.
It costs $5,000 more than a conventional car, and unlike the upcoming Escape HEV, many look boxy or downright strange or worse just plain boring. Critics even question potential market success, noting that sales are propped up by a host of tax benefits.
Dealerships in California and some remote midwest locations like Boulder Colorado rank among the top hybrid sellers in the nation. Boulder residents are already lining up for the 2004 hybrid cars, sight unseen.
That flies in the face of the national trend, as sales are plummeting across the country. All three hybrid models being sold today - Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight and Toyota Prius - posted declines in sales this May, June and July from a year ago.
Honda Insight above, Toyota Prius below
This may not bode well for upcoming Escape Hybrid sales. Sales of the Toyota Prius dropped 33 percent, the Honda Civic Hybrid slid 8 percent and the Honda Insight fell a whopping 46 percent.
In contrast, sales of the conventional Honda Civic rose 0.14 percent in the same period. Sales of the Toyota Echo (which closely resembles the Prius) jumped nearly 15 percent while those of the Toyota Camry (whose price is closer to the Prius) fell 3.77 percent.
The reason might be the hybrid hype seen before and during the Iraq war. "The main reason for the decline is that people are less concerned about gasoline prices now than they were a year ago," said Paul Taylor, chief economist of the Washington, D.C.-based National Automobile Dealers Association. "Also, normal consumers look at technology and say the cost needs to come down.
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