The hybrid car sizzle is fast becoming the hybrid car fizzle.

Well, that sure didn’t last long.

Hybrid autos:  Already riding off into the sunset?
Hybrid autos: Already riding off into the sunset?

News reports this week are stating that the market share of hybrid vehicles is now on the decline.

That is correct:  As of 1st Quarter 2014, hybrids only make up around 3% of the total car and light truck market in America.

Rather than an increase, that represents a pretty significant drop from nearly a 3.5% share of market just one year ago.

Here are the trend stats in graphic detail, courtesy of automotive statistics and intelligence firm IHS/Polk:

Hybrid Vehicle Stat ChartActually, the number of new hybrid car models being offered is still on the increase — now there are 47 different choices compared to around 25 in 2009, with Toyota’s five Prius models collected representing ~40% of the total hybrid market.  (The Prius share is down from ~55% in 2011, by the way.)

New model offerings or not … it’s pretty clear that the public’s interest in hybrid vehicles isn’t going up commensurately.  And the litany of reasons is all-too-familiar:

  • High car sticker price
  • Costly and complex batteries
  • Improved gas mileage and energy efficiency of conventional vehicles

Looking at the year-over-year trends, I think it’s doubtful that hybrid vehicles will ever achieve the high hopes the EPA and other federal officials have had for their adoption.

How embarrassing for them.

Instead, it seems more likely that the market will gravitate from the internal combustion engine straight to all-electric vehicles.  None of this “automotive hermaphrodite” stuff in between.

The more interesting question is this:  When will that shift occur?

To that one … not many people seem to have a definitive answer.

7 thoughts on “The hybrid car sizzle is fast becoming the hybrid car fizzle.

  1. Perhaps the reason lies in confusing marketing. Here in Thailand, Toyota was advertising the Prius as “fully hybrid.” How can that be?

    By the way, two years ago we converted our Honda CRV to run on LPG, and it switches to regular petrol automatically when the LPG runs out. We have reduced fuel cost by 40 percent as a result, with no fancy batteries required.

  2. it appears to me that the hybrid producers are doing a lousy job in promoting the significant virtues of the concept.

    Plus … the image is heavily skewed toward older buyers (i.e. boring, slow, unexciting). Attitude is everything!!

  3. Seventeen years ago, when the Prius was first introduced, car buyers were not ready for an electric car and neither was the charging infrastructure. The hybrid was created as a bridge to the electric car future.

    I think the point is missed here. The hybrid is not the car of the future, the electric car is, but we are not ready to accept the limited mileage and lack of charging infrastructure. To bemoan the weakness of the hybrid market, I think, is short-sighted.

    Consider hybrids and electric cars together and call that the market and what do the statistics say?

  4. Your headline feels like hybrids are failing. They have succeeded. Their mission, in some ways, was to be a bridge.

  5. Car companies need to put some resources behind natural gas-powered cars and buses.

    Ford sells a sporty Focus Hatchback with a clean-burning diesel engine that gets 50 mpg. With performance like that, who needs electric?

  6. I bought a used 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid last year. I started a job with a commute and needed a bigger car, but wanted better gas mileage. It’s a comfortable, safe car.

    The thing is, the mileage is almost identical to the regular gas Highlander. I average 25 mpg no matter where or how I drive. The gas Highlander averages 21 combined. Even used, I paid a pretty hefty price for 4 mpg. (I did research, but believed the hype of 28 mpg promised.)

    I would not purchase another one, and I hope selling it won’t be an issue.

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