Despite all the clamor about how hybrids are going to save the planet, cure cancer, facilitate the second coming, etc., sales of battery-pack-mobiles are down nearly ten percent for 2008. At the beginning of 2008, it looked like hybrids were going to have their best year ever, driven by high fuel prices and a recessive economy. That recession, however,has caused consumers to cut way back, leading to dramatic drop in fuel prices, killing much of the argument for a hybrid's price premium. Consumers shy away from hybrids when fuel dips below $3.50 per gallon, and the incessant clang of news stories about expensive fuel also dries up, causing the issue of fuel efficiency to fall from consciousness.

Toyota is still the hybrid sales king, with 241,000 units shifted in 2008. Honda managed to ring up 31,000 sales, and Ford came in third with nearly 20,000 vehicles sold. While nearly every automaker offering hybrids is down (Nissan actually saw a 5 percent increase, and General Motors garnered a whopping 179 percent jump thanks to its 2008 introductions), Ford was hardest hit, with a 22 percent drop. Some might say "we told you so" about the way things have played out - by the time everyone got on board with more efficient offerings, the bottom has fallen out of the price of fuel - and others might use the sales figures to agitate for a gas tax to stimulate the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles.

[Source: Auto News - sub req]