According to R.L. Polk & Co.'s director of industry analysis Lonnie Miller, when he asked a group of over 300 people in Detroit a question about how many of those present drove hybrid vehicles, only three hands went up. On average, throughout the U.S. 2.5% of people own hybrid vehicles. If Detroit followed the mold, nearly eight hands would have went up. However, Detroiters are still set in their ways of driving pickup trucks and large SUVs.
Furthermore, the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit displayed numerous electric and hybrid vehicles in a market that does not seem to show strong support towards hybrids. Hybrid vehicles garners a lot of attention from the press and the public, but sales remain low. Out of a total sales of 13.19 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, only 315,000 were hybrid vehicles, falling short of the predicted sales of 350,000 units.
Sales of hybrid vehicles are expected to increase dramatically by 2012. However, all is not positive for makers of hybrid vehicles. Higher priced hybrids can scare off buyers. Hybrids carry a premium over standard models and many would be buyers do not see it fit in their budget to splurg for the hybrid model. Furthermore, more than twenty hybrid vehicles are on the market today, and no increase in brand loyalty has been seen by industry observers.
To further that point, less than one out of every five hybrid owners return to buy the same vehicle again. Many of those previous hybrid owners do not even buy another hybrid vehicle. When the time comes to purchase a new vehicle, only approximately 30% of previous hybrid owners buy another hybrid vehicle.
Owners of hybrid vehicles who do buy another hybrid vehicle are a different group of car buyers. They are dedicated to hybrids and show their support by joining hybrid groups and forums and frequenting hybrid dedicated websites, according to industry analysis by R.L. Polk.
Finally, having a successful hybrid within a lineup of vehicles does create a strong affect towards how people view a company. For example, due to the sales success of the Prius, industry analysis has shown that the public believes that all Toyota vehicles are fuel efficient.
The hybrid market is still misunderstood. As this new market ages, companies will discover new ways to market their products to a different crowd of buyers. Hybrid buyers have diffrent interests, many being concerned about the environment. Marketing schemes will have new focus. As Lonnie Miller of R.L. Polk said, "We're in this new mindset. There is a much greater sensitivity to all things green."
Source: Wardsauto, R.L. Polk