Hybrid vehicles are gradually gaining market share since their first appearance in the 90s.  Recently, the millionth hybrid hit the roads, still a small fraction out of our 135 million plus vehicles.  Although these cars represent less than 1% of cars on our roads today, they made up more than 2.5% of new vehicle sales in March of this year.  This suggests an accelerating trajectory.

So who is buying these hybrid vehicles?  Surprisingly, it may not be who you think.  The early adopter fits a simple formula.  They make over $100,000 in yearly income, have at least a four year college degree, many have a Master's or higher, and are likely to be a Democrat.  Studies show that amongst hybrid owners, Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one.

The presidential election map reveals more detail.  Many Republican voting states such as Arizona buy fewer hybrids per capita than largely Democratic areas such as Seattle.

The real issue for carmakers is to find out how to get hybrids in the hands of more buyers.  According to recent research, 2 out of 3 Americans plan to buy a hybrid in the next few years, an 80% of those questioned want a more efficient car, but consumers see the added costs of hybrids as simply too much to take on at this point.

It appears that buyers are there and demand for hybrids is high, but prices continue to hold sales back.  However the new trend of low cost hybrids like the Honda Insight may begin to make significant inroads.

Source:  Wall Street Journal