Cheap Gas Sends Hybrid Loyalty to New Low

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Cheap Gas Sends Hybrid Loyalty to New Low

Hybrid and electric vehicle sales are feeling the impact of cheap gas.

According to a recent report by Edmunds.com, 55 percent of hybrid and electric vehicle owners are switching back to standard gasoline vehicles at trade-in time, marking the lowest level of hybrid loyalty since the company began tracking transactions in 2011. Over 20 percent of those customers are opting for a conventional SUV at trade-in, nearly double the rate compared to three years ago. Electrified vehicle sales have dropped 3.4 percent through April this year compared to 2014 and made up just 2.7 percent of the market.

SEE ALSO: Americans Driving More Due to Low Gas Prices

The average price of gasoline has fallen to $2.66, compared to nearly $4 in 2012. In addition, fuel economy on crossovers and SUVs has improved by up to a third in less than a decade while some midsize sedans can even return 35 mpg, making hybrids and electric vehicles less attractive. Automakers aren’t convinced that it’ll be a lasting trend, with Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin saying, “We still see hybrid as a clear advantage in overall efficiency. They might not be the flavor of the month, but we know where fuel prices are going, and that it’s a finite resource.”

And don’t expect automakers to just give up development of alternative fuel vehicles including hydrogen fuel cell and more electric vehicle offerings. GM has no intention of allowing gas prices to change its plan of launching the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which will arrive showrooms this fall.

[Source: NY Times]

Discuss this story at our alternative fuel forum

  • smartacus

    They’ve only been tracking it since 2011; it’s much too soon to blame it on gas prices.
    Any financial benefit at the pump will not be had till a few years and thousands of miles later. And since they are following it on a monthly basis, they really can’t blame it on gas prices since last month’s gas prices were more expensive than the month prior.

    -Perhaps the real reason is people are waking up to the shell game and don’t want to lug the extra weight and the corresponding extra wear on tires, brakes, engine, transmission, cooling system, etc that cancels out any long-term financial benefit or price recovery that was supposed to help offset the higher purchase price to begin with.

  • smartacus

    A better indicator of Hybrid loyalty is the weakness of the job market. With so many jobs lost since 2011 alone (so much so that people have stopped collecting unemployment, thereby driving down the number of “unemployed”)
    Fewer families across the USA are in a position to even look at a hybrid.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    Why don’t we all drive hybrids and more fuel efficient vehicles from now on and never have to worry about expensive gas again?

  • Shiratori90

    People (especially Americans) don’t like to think long-term. That’s why.

  • DoubleCoppers

    Take a look at the larger picture. Many people need a vehicle that does several things well, such as carry a family of five plus luggage, and also haul a load in the bed or in a trailer. If they can’t afford multiple vehicles, one Corolla or Prius isn’t going to work like it would for a singleton or a childless couple.

  • DoubleCoppers

    Here’s long-term thinking: When gas was near $4/gal, I calculated how long it would take for a hybrid’s extra cost (compared to an equivalent conventional car) to be re-paid by the fuel savings. At 10K miles/yr, it took 5 yrs just to break even–and only after that would it save any money (assuming no high-priced battery replacement or powertrain problems). As we know, gas dropped significantly, so that break-even time would have been even longer. So long-term thinking proved it wasn’t worthwhile to pay the extra cost. See my reply to J. Vancouver above for the other side of the argument.

  • DoubleCoppers

    “Any financial benefit at the pump will not be had till a few years and thousands of miles later.” Exactly right. See my reply to Shiratori90 above, where I actually calculated the time required to pay back the extra cost (5 yrs at $4/gal, which turned into a much longer time due to the drop in gas price). The higher purchase cost is not covered by the fuel economy savings.