Polk released an interesting study today that shows only 35 percent of hybrid vehicle owners bought another hybrid when purchasing a new vehicle in 2011.
Hybrid models available today have doubled in numbers since 2007 yet the survey of hybrid owners do show technological loyalty. Furthermore the study breaks down repurchase decision by market and traditionally eco-friendly areas such as L.A. and Seattle do not register in the top ten.
Perhaps this is a sign of a fad that is fading or that the hybrid promises were not delivered on and the study does not mention if hybrid owners are simply keeping their vehicles longer or what the disatisfaction factors may be.
Polk did have some good news for manufacturers as the survey showed brand loyalty in hybrid owners that returned to the new car market in 2011 stuck to the same vehicle brand overall – Toyota hybrid owners went with another Toyota vehicle 60 percent of the time and 52 percent of Honda hybrid owners stayed with the Honda brand.
Hybrid vehicle sales represent just 2.4 percent of all new vehicle sold today which according to Polk is down from a high of 2.9 percent in 2008.
“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.”
Surprisingly the Polk research also indicated that uneasiness in fuel prices between 2008 and 2011 (ranging from just under $2 a gallon to nearly four bucks per these days) had little impact on hybrid segment loyalty.