Hybrid Sales Plummet

Posted: March 18, 2009

If you've ever been interested in a hybrid car - perhaps you see another summer of $4 gas in our future - this is a great time to make an offer on one. 

The Los Angeles Times reports, "Americans have cut back on buying vehicles of all types as the economy continues its slide. But the slowdown has been particularly brutal for hybrids, which use electricity and gasoline as power sources. They were the industry's darling just last summer, but sales have collapsed as consumers refuse to pay a premium for a fuel-efficient vehicle now that the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally has slipped below $2."

The sales drop comes just as several promising new hybrids are about to reach showrooms.  The redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius has set a new fuel economy high, averaging 50 mpg in EPA testing.  The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid has won considerable early praise from reviewers, while the new 2010 Honda Insight has taken the title of least expensive hybrid car.

MSNBC adds, "Chrysler has promised to have eight hybrids or electric vehicles in showrooms within the next few years and GM says 26 of the 33 models it sells in 2015 will run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. Hyundai and Audi will offer their first hybrids to America next year." 

The news, however, is great for those who are interested in a green car.  The New York Times notes, "Last summer, the typical Prius spent 1.6 days on the lot. But this winter, it took dealers an average 76.6 days to sell each Prius. The Camry hybrid, which moved in an average 4.6 days last summer, is sitting on the lot for an average 156 days this year, according to Toyota."

That means struggling dealerships will be anxious to negotiate with potential hybrid buyers.  The Times notes, "Customers like Chad Gallagher, a lawyer in Berkeley, Calif., are getting big discounts. He convinced a dealer to cut $5,000 from the price of a fully loaded Prius."

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