It’s a persuasive argument: Buy a hybrid car, travel in comfort, average 70mpg and save the planet. Who could resist?
Well, more and more of us are falling for the argument but, as the sales manual says, it’s repeat business that matters and repeat business is where the hybrid car revolution seems to stall.
Polk Research in the States has revealed that just 35 per cent of hybrid buyers return to buy another hybrid, and if you take Toyota out of the equation that figure falls to just 25 per cent.
The problem seems to be that the reality doesn’t live up to the sales pitch, with the biggest problem being cost. A premium price is often justified by reduced running costs, but in the real world that isn’t evident unless you drive in a particular way and in perfect conditions.
Hybrid sales have dropped by almost 20 per cent in the US in the last four years (as a percentage of car sales) and with the continuing improvement in high efficiency diesel and petrol engines the hybrid future seems uncertain.
One crumb of comfort for hybrid car makers is that buyers of hybrids don’t seem to take against the car maker when they buy again, just against the hybrid technology. Twice as many buyers stay loyal to the car maker as stay loyal to the hybrid choice.
Do you think hybrid car makers might actually understand what car buyers are saying?