Despsite success of Prius, some automakers still hybrid shy

MarketWatch notes that some automakers are still reluctant to commit to a hybrid program because the premium cost is unlikely to match the benefits.

A Nissan official acknowledges there is a market for hybrids but wonders if it can be profitable and sustainable. Nissan will offer a hybrid version of the Altima next year, but hasn't offered a price or mileage estimate; also the company has no firm specifics on any alternative-fuel strategy.

Many critics of the auto industry point to the Prius as a shining example of hybrid popularity. But the story stresses that other hybrid models don't share that success record. Analysts point to the uniqueness of the Prius as it was a vehicle totally designed around the hybrid powertrain. Other hybrids are knockoffs of existing models. And that's where the extra cost problems rears its ugly head. The Prius has no incestuous competition against which consumers can compare sticker prices.

Dodge will have a hybrid version of the Durango in 2008. The company is working with GM and BMW on joint hybrid technology, yet officials say there's no need for a "strong presence in the near term."

[Source: MarketWatch]

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