Hybrid owners show little loyalty

April 9, 2012 at 4:00 PM
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DETROIT, April 9 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers with hybrid cars are not showing strong loyalty to hybrids when returning to dealer showrooms, a survey of car owners indicated.

Industry researchers at R.L. Polk & Co. found 35 percent of hybrid owners maintain loyalty to hybrids, a figure that drops to 25 percent if just one brand, the Toyota Prius, is removed from the equation.

The Prius remains the most sought after hybrid vehicle by far and loyalty to the brand leads the hybrid pack.

Toyota sold 136,463 Priuses in 2011. By comparison, Ford sold 11,286 Fusions hybrids, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The reason for the drop off in loyalty is not clear. Some hybrid owners are opting for electric cars to replace their hybrids, data shows. Generally, however, "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," said Lacey Plache, Edmunds.com chief economist.

Overall, hybrids represented 2.4 percent of automobile sales in 2011. That's down from 2.9 percent in 2008.

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