Call it the devil you know versus the devil you don’t, but new car buyers are giving the nod to compact sedans over hybrid vehicles. In July of 2009, hybrids represented 3.6 percent of new car sales, but in May of 2010, that number fell to just 1.6 percent. Some of the decline stems from short supply of the best selling Toyota Prius hybrid, but even available hybrids from manufacturers such as Ford and Hyundai failed to take up the slack.
Today’s compact sedans often come well equipped with heated leather seats, premium audio systems, navigation and other features not typically associated with “entry level” cars. Many get fuel economy approaching 40 miles per gallon, which makes them nearly as efficient as some hybrid offerings. Most significantly, their conventional drivetrains cost less to produce, meaning that even a well equipped compact sedan typically sells for thousands less than a hybrid would.
It’s too early to call the hybrid segment dead, especially since manufacturers will be launching more hybrid vehicles in the coming years than ever before. It will be interesting to see how the segment bounces back once the Toyota Prius regains general availability; unless sales take a step upward, manufacturers may have a hard time convincing customers that hybrid alternatives are worth the price of admission.
Source: Left Lane News