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Despite Gas Prices, Hybrid Sales Stall

Car sales are up again, but despite rising gas prices, few consumers are buying hybrids. Instead, they’re choosing less fuel-efficient – and less costly — subcompacts and mid-size vehicles.

Toyota

March sales rose 22% from the previous month and 13% from a year ago to an annualized rate of 14.3 million vehicles, according to data released today by Edmunds.com. Experts credit rising gas prices as a leading factor for this spike in consumer demand. Sales of subcompact cars and mid-size cars made up 24% of total market share in March, up three percentage points from a year ago – the biggest growth in any category, according to forecasts by Kelley Blue Book. But despite the large swings in gas prices, hybrid sales have barely budged: they made up just 2.1% of market share last month, almost unchanged from a year ago. Of the 1.4 million cars that sold last month, less than 30,000 of them were hybrids. “Interest in hybrids is not as high as one would think especially in light of high gas prices,” says Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence at TrueCar.com.

Hybrids were supposed to thrive as gas prices skyrocketed and consumers looked for ways to lower their costs at the pump. But that demand hasn’t materialized largely because of their cost. Typically, a hybrid car will cost $1,000 to $4,000 more than the same car with a conventional gas engine, says John O’Dell, a senior editor at Edmunds.com. And in some cases the hybrid version could cost a whopping $30,000 extra.

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It takes years for a driver to recover that premium, often longer than he or she might intend to own the car. At $4 a gallon, they’ll need four to 12 years to break even on most average hybrid models, according to Edmunds.com. For instance, the best-selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius – which just recorded its best month since 2007 — costs $6,000 more than the comparably-equipped gas-powered Toyota Corolla. At $4 a gallon, the buyer who drives about 15,000 miles a year would need seven years to break even and start seeing a payback in gas savings. That drops to six years if gas prices hit $5 a gallon but rises to nine years if gas prices fall to $3 a gallon.

The premium on some luxury hybrid cars is so high some drivers might never break even. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7 costs about $98,000 compared to the non-hybrid BMW 7 Series at roughly $80,000. At $4 a gallon, a driver would need 33 years to break even. With the Lexus LS 600h L that’s priced at $106,000, they’ll need a lifetime – 87 years – to break even when compared to the non-hybrid Lexus LS 460 that runs about $77,000.

To be sure, drivers can recover their costs much faster with some hybrids. At $4 a gallon, the Ford Fusion Hybrid has the quickest payback period – four years – when compared to the regular Ford Fusion. The same is true for the hybrid Honda Insight when compared to the non-hybrid Honda Fit, according to Edmunds.com. In the luxury market, the hybrid Lexus CT 200h is actually cheaper by $3,700 than its counterpart, the non-hybrid Lexus IS 250.

Beyond the sticker price, consumer psychology has also contributed to lagging hybrid sales. O’Dell says consumers get accustomed to rising gas prices and as a result put off purchasing a hybrid until gas prices rise even further. Now, he says, gas prices will need to reach $5 to $7 a gallon before consumers turn to hybrids in droves.

Also, incentives to buy hybrids are limited. While some cash-back and cheap financing opportunities exist, they’re not as common as they are on larger cars, says Toprak. In part, that’s because manufacturers’ have a limited supply of hybrid vehicles and their profit margins are smaller on these cars.

Still, car analysts remain optimistic that hybrid sales will rise in the future. New federal fuel economy requirements will go into effect in four years, and they’ll likely raise the fuel economy standards that car manufacturers will have to meet. To make that happen, more manufacturers will likely roll out hybrids and those with existing hybrids will probably produce more units, which in turn should bring their prices down, says O’Dell.

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      Effing Tigers,what have they done lately to warrant this type of interest?
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      Bump when your “walking man” icon actually moves
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      Effing Tigers, what have they done lately to warrant this type of interest?
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      huckelberry said…
      Effing Tigers, what have they done lately to warrant this type of interest?
      Haha. I’ve been on Square 6 since 9am. I’m starring so hard just to imagine him moving a square.
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      Mine moved up to the second from the last spot. [yay]
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      Just moved to 8th, gonna suck to wait all this time and then they will be sold out anyway
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      9 months ago
      Only singles left now.
      tritongreen
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      Motown Spartan
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      via 247Sports Mobile
      Zombie said…
      Virtual waiting room for Tigers opening day tix
      Gotcha, thanks.
      Motown Spartan
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      9 months ago
      all my guys are moving…must be sold out
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      9 months ago
      I signed in around 9:55 and was in waiting room for a little bit and then was assigned the first square. Got in around 10:03 and by that time only had standing room only for 2-4 and just singles.
      My guess is they are holding a lot of tickets left for season ticket packages and partial packages they are still trying to sell.
      Trust me they will have more tickets as the game gets closer to sell.
      Nickyb
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      grrr… 6th now. hoping for standing room at least
      NoodleIncident
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      9 months ago
      I love that stubhub will blow up with opening day tickets now…
      10 votes needed
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      9 months ago
      Oh they will have more tickets..just not for the public.
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      9 months ago
      I tried to click on right at 10 and ended up at the back of the line. Stub Hub again.
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      via 247Sports Mobile
      tritongreen said…
      Only singles left now.
      God, you are a douche. Thanks for having your “people” use multiple computers to ensure you can keep skull-fucking normal people trying to get tickets. I don’t mind when up post MSU stuff, you seem to be a pretty true Spartan, but please don’t post in ticket threads. It’s normally salt in a wound and beyond arrogant.
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      OhioGMSpartan said…
      God, you are a douche. Thanks for having your “people” use multiple computers to ensure you can keep skull-fucking normal people trying to get tickets. I don’t mind when up post MSU stuff, you seem to be a pretty true Spartan, but please don’t post in ticket threads. It’s normally salt in a wound and beyond arrogant.
      Eat me. If I can save some people some time so that they could get singles vs. nothing at all, I will.
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      oh tRCMB
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      OhioGMSpartan said…
      God, you are a douche. Thanks for having your “people” use multiple computers to ensure you can keep skull-fucking normal people trying to get tickets. I don’t mind when up post MSU stuff, you seem to be a pretty true Spartan, but please don’t post in ticket threads. It’s normally salt in a wound and beyond arrogant.
      Just spoke to a friend who was using 4 computers, checked in at the same time around 9:50. Based on where they were assigned in line, he is pretty sure it is random. One of his computers was at the front, and he was only able to buy one single.
      spartytom
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      spartytom said…
      Just spoke to a friend who was using 4 computers, checked in at the same time around 9:50. Based on where they were assigned in line, he is pretty sure it is random. One of his computers was at the front, and he was only able to buy one single.
      Dont tell them this! They love a good conspiracy theory when it involves ticket brokers.
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      tritongreen said…
      Eat me. If I can save some people some time so that they could get singles vs. nothing at all, I will.
      How noble of you. Doing it all for the people
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      spartytom said…
      Just spoke to a friend who was using 4 computers, checked in at the same time around 9:50. Based on where they were assigned in line, he is pretty sure it is random. One of his computers was at the front, and he was only able to buy one single.
      it said that line assignments would be random in the initial message
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    • But, currently Hybrid car is too expensive comparing with non-hybrid same model. I’m really wondering when hybrid car can be similar with non-hybrid car.

    • Nah! We own two 2007 Prius Touring Models that cost $25K each. Our gas savings is approx. $4K for each car. Most of the alternative cars mentioned are not in the same category as to size and features. Sorry but a Corolla is NOT a Prius. We do have the peace of mind knowing that mideast nuts did not get as much of our money as before. Now if we can only get rid of Obama.

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109.73MDow Volume:
Avg Vol: 113.01M
Unchanged
224
Decliners
2653
Advancers
3709
Price Chg %Chg 1 Day
Range: 1 Day
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Dow
/quotes/zigman/627449/realtime 16,375 +23 0.14%
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S&P 500
/quotes/zigman/3870025/realtime 1,951 +2 0.12%
GlobalDow
/quotes/zigman/629063/realtime 2,326 +13 0.54%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/662444/delayed 1,125 -9 0.80%
Oil
/quotes/zigman/2331095/delayed 46.25 0.00 0.00%
FTSE 100
/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed 6,194 +111 1.82%
DAX
/quotes/zigman/2380246/delayed 10,318 +270 2.68%
CAC 40
/quotes/zigman/3173214/delayed 4,654 +99 2.17%
FTSE MIB
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IBEX 35
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Nikkei 225
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/quotes/zigman/1652085/delayed 25,765 +311 1.22%
Singapore
/quotes/zigman/1709939/delayed 2,906 +28 0.98%
Euro
/quotes/zigman/16008136/realtime/sampled 1.11 -0.01 0.91%
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/quotes/zigman/16008150/realtime/sampled 120.09 -0.24 0.20%
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/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled 1.53 0.00 0.30%
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/quotes/zigman/16008115/realtime/sampled 0.70 0.00 0.31%
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/quotes/zigman/1652083/delayed 96.34 +0.36 0.37%
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/quotes/zigman/15866666/realtime 2.16 -0.02 1.13%
German 10y
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Italy 10yr
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Spain 10yr
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Bad Credit 22.73% 22.73% 22.48%
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