Apr 192012

Hybrid Re-Purchase Rate

You would think that hybrid buyers would be a loyal breed. Making the jump to a hybrid is one that many car buyers still haven’t made, but those that do have been considered ideologically aligned with the idea of going greener. But a study by the US marketing agency Polk has found that only 35 per cent of hybrid owners decided to repurchase another hybrid last year.

Toyota Prius - Plug in Hybrid

Toyota Prius - Plug in Hybrid

Fuel Efficient Diesel or Petrol

The numbers showed that the repurchase rate on hybrids last year was below that in 2010, and that many hybrid buyers had instead switched to fuel efficient diesel and petrol vehicles. Last year, only 35 per cent of hybrid vehicle buyers bought again, compared to just fewer than 40 per cent in 2010 and a bit less than 37 per cent in 2009.

Hybrid take up dropped

In terms of hybrid take-up, there was also another worrying figure. While hybrid car sales accounted for 2.9 per cent of the overall vehicle market in the US in 2008, that figure had dropped to 2.4 per cent last year. The expectation among most car market trend-watchers was that hybrid take up would increase and that these vehicles would gradually build market share. So why is this not happening?

Low C02 Emissions is the Key

The main reason seems to be price. If the main market for hybrid vehicles lies with people that want to help reduce emissions, by the same token, these are also people that generally justify the purchase of a hybrid for other reasons, namely lower running costs. The theory of hybrids dictates that the buyer is prepared to pay more to purchase the vehicle and spend less running it. The problem with this, however, is that many car manufacturers are now producing fuel-efficient diesels that emit only a fraction of the CO2 that petrol vehicles were producing not so long ago.

Diesel and Petrol Price Compete

These are vehicles that are not only cheap to run, they are also cheap to buy. In other words, they are directly competing with hybrid vehicles. This has been shown again in the US, where the proportion of diesel vehicles on the road is steadily increasing ashybridtake-up gently stagnates and declines.

Toyota Buyers Differ

But that isn’t true of all hybrid vehicles on the market. The ever-popular Toyota Prius, for example, was shown to have a high repurchase rate in the recent Polk study. Last year research showed that some 41 per cent of buyers of the Japanese-produced hybrid decided to repurchase the vehicle or another hybrid on the market.

Manufacturers Strive to run cars on less fuel

What can we learn from this in terms of making our cars greener? Well, the reason hybrids are not doing that well is actually good news in terms of C02 reduction. After all, it means that other fuel-efficient cars are competing and, overall, that automakers are striving to run cars off less fuel.

New Toyota Prius+ Hybrid - 7 Seat MPV

New Toyota Prius+ Hybrid - 7 Seat MPV

Green and Saving Money on Fuel

This is due in no small part to the correlation between saving money and saving fuel. If hybrids are to compete, they really need to come down in cost, and that will surely continue to happen. Hybrids losing ground shows that competition to make cars greener is healthier than it’s ever been, which shows these cars have at least had a dramatic impact on the car industry.

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