You see commercials all the time about how much hybrid owners love their car. They feel urbane and worldly when they realize how much they are helping the planet and their pocket books.
A new study from R.L. Polk is saying that, like in so many other instances, commercials and real life don't always coincide. The survey on hybrid loyalty shows that most hybrid owners do not buy another one.
The data, coming from car purchases made in 2011, shows that only 35% of hybrid owners who made car purchases last year bought a hybrid again.
However, hybrid owners do tend to remain loyal to the brand they chose. Toyoto tops this list, with 60% of Prius owners buying a Toyota their next time around. In the case of Honda, 51% returned for another Honda, while only 20% bought another hybrid, from any brand. Apparently they liked the fact that it was a Honda, just not the hybrid aspect.
For dealers, it makes since to have a hybrid as part of their line, even though the segment makes up only 2.4 percent of the new car market. While not many hybrids are being sold, they do tend to bring customers back to that brand.
Though gas savings is often cited as a good reason to buy hybrid, there is little evidence that the price of gas, having nearly doubled from 2008 to 2011, has any impact on hybrid loyalty. Not only that, but hybrids do not carry more loyalty in so called "eco-friendly cities" in the United States. Markets like Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle show no more loyalty to hybrids than the nation at-large.
"The lineup of alternate drive vehicles and their premium price points just aren't appealing enough to consumers to give the segment the momentum it once anticipated, especially given the growing strength of fuel economy among compact and midsize competitors," according to Lacey Plache, Edmunds.com chief economist. "For EVs and PHEVs in particular, certain obstacles -- including consumer unease with unfamiliar technology and the lack of an adequate recharging infrastructure -- will need to be overcome before sales increase."