According to a survey by Polk Automotive, only 35% of current owners of hybrid cars would by a hybrid again.
What’s more troubling is that when the two “big hitters” of the market – the Toyota Prius and the Honda Hybrids are removed from the data, the number of people saying they would buy another hybrid drops to only 25%.
However, hybrid owners appear to maintain brand loyalty when returning to the new car market.
For example, in 2011, 60 percent of Toyota hybrid owners returned to the market to purchase another Toyota, according to Polk, while 41 percent of them purchased another hybrid from any brand. In the case of Honda hybrid owners, more than 52 percent of them stayed with the Honda brand, while just under 20 percent of this same owner group bought another hybrid vehicle from any brand.
To us, that number is staggeringly low. It appears to be saying that hybrid owners are not satisfied with their hybrid cars to the point where they would want to by a similar car again.
We tried to think of reasons why this would be so and aren’t coming up with many. Our first thought was “well, maybe hybrids are similar to a first car. People seldom buy their first car a second time.” For example we don’t know of many people or families that continued to by Ford Pintos or Volkswagon Rabbits after owning one. Most of the time the needs of the buyer changed. More room for kids, families, cargo required a larger car.
But that reasoning doesn’t apply to hybrids as there are hybrid vehicles across the spectrum of all cars. When you can go out and purchase a small Toyota Prius or a Porsche Cayenne SUV hybrid, you know the market covers the needs of all buyers.
So what in the wide, wide world of sports is a’going on here?
The only thing we can think of is a general dissatisfaction with the “hybrid experience.” People are simply not pleased with hybrid cars for some reason.
The numbers are even more troubling when one examines the market overall:
Hybrid vehicles represent just 2.4 percent of the overall new vehicle market in the U.S., according to Polk, down from a high of 2.9 percent in 2008.
As more and more hybrids have entered the market, the number percentage of hybrids in the market has dropped?
When given the doubling of gas prices since 2008, purchase incentives, rebates, and the “Cash for Clunkers” program, one would think the number of hybrids being purchased would have soared.
But they haven’t.
This is a perplexing report and one that needs to be studied more to find root causes of why there is little loyalty to hybrids overall.
Until that happens, one can only look at the numbers and shake ones head in what appears to be a rejection of the hybrid by the American car buying public.