Hybrids vehicles, lead by the Toyota Prius, currently make up less than 0.2 percent of the total number of vehicles driven in the U.S. But expect that to change as Americans become more comfortable with the technology.

“Close to 90 percent of current hybrid vehicles in use are concentrated in the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic models. However, between 2006 and 2008, we will see new hybrid models from Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Mazda and Nissan. Ford is looking to produce 250,000 hybrids. Nissan is looking to produce 50,000 and Toyota has increased its production estimates for all hybrid vehicles from 300,000 to 400,000 for 2006,” Mary-Beth Kellenberger, consulting analyst for Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting agency.

Because of such a growth, the need for independent automotive repair facilities will be increasing, possibly dramatically. At the moment most are performed at the vehicles dealership. But, again, according to Kellenberger, “By 2009, it is likely there will be over a million hybrid vehicles in operation with close to a third being outside regular warranty—which is the point where many consumers’ loyalty to the dealership for all types of services begins to flounder.”

The article addresses automotive shops on preparing for hybrid vehicles. And such vehicles are not the only opportunity for such shops: other alternative-fuel vehicles, such as hybrid diesel vehicles and plug-in hybrids are possibly waiting in the wings.

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