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Old 01-13-2012, 04:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Consumers Do Not Find Hybrids Appealing

For the last number of years, automakers have been pushing gas-electric products at auto shows across the world. However, according to researcher LMC Automotive, hybrid sales in the United States have slowed last year to 2.2 percent compared to 2.4 percent in 2010.

Mike Jackson, chief executive of auto retail chain AutoNation Inc., said that while 75 percent of customers that walked into his showrooms wanted to talk about hybrids, hybrids only make 2.5 percent of AutoNation sales. Jackson revealed, "What happens from the 75 percent consideration to the 2.5 percent commitment? They look at the price premium for the technology, which is already subsidized and discounted, and say 'the payback period is too long; not for me.' It's a back-of-the envelope conversation on the part of the American consumer."

According to Chevrolet vice president of U.S. marketing Chris Perry, the Chevy Volt gets people into the showroom but with less than 8,000 units sold last year, consumers often entered a dealer to have a look at the Volt but eventually left with something else.

The challenge hybrids face is the continuing development of the conventional internal combustion engines. David Champion, senior director of the Auto Test Center of Consumer Reports, pointed out that the basic Honda Civic reaches a 32 mpg combined city and highway mileage while the Civic hybrid achieves 44 mpg. Saving a consumer approximately $322 dollars a year in fuel, the sticker price premium will require an owner to operate the Civic hybrid more than six years to see any financial advantages.

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