Many hybrid owners don't buy a second
Hybrid vehicles are proving a one-time infatuation for many American car buyers. Almost two-thirds of hybrid owners bought something other than a hybrid when they returned to the market in 2011.
And if you exclude Toyota Prius owners, the repurchase rate dropped to 22 percent, according to an R.L. Polk study.
Polk says hybrid loyalty has slipped for a couple of years. The repurchase rate was 35.2 percent in 2008. It rose to 39.6 percent in 2009, fell to 38.9 percent in 2010, and was 35.0 percent in 2011.
What's going on? Brad Smith, director of Polk's loyalty management practice, said less expensive fuel-efficiency technology is advancing rapidly, reducing the advantage of more expensive hybrids. Maybe that's why hybrids accounted for just 2.4 percent of U.S. new-vehicle sales last year, down from a peak of 2.9 percent in 2008, according to Polk registration data.
Smith said: "The premium price points for hybrids are just too high when so many conventional small and mid-sized cars have improved fuel economy."