Lower Fuel Prices Hurt U.S. Hybrid Sales

by | Jan 6, 2009

gas.jpgJust last summer, high fuel prices were helping to drive consideration of hybrids. But as the prices of fuel tumble to about $2 a gallon, so is American’s appetite for hybrid cars, the Financial Times reports.

Last November, U.S. hybrid petro-electric sales dropped 53 percent from the previous year, compared with a 37 percent decline overall, according to Autodata.

Sales of Toyota’s Prius, the top-selling hybrid, fell by almost 50 percent in November from a year earlier. Sales of the Camry sedan was down 57 percent and the Ford Escape crossover declined 35 percent.

Ford sales analyst George Pipas told Financial Times that “The lower gas prices are, the tougher the proposition is to pay a premium for a hybrid engine.”

Industry executives have joined environmentalists in urging American politicians to consider raising fuel taxes as a way of encouraging fuel efficiency.

Edmunds.com, an online motor service, estimates that it now takes a Prius owner more than eight years to recoup the extra cost of the vehicle in fuel savings, compared with three and a half years when the petrol price was around $4 a gallon.

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