Gas prices are up! People aren't buying hybrids! Sales up 26%!

One thing is beyond doubt, the price of gas is going up. Right now in southeast Michigan it's at about $3.20 a gallon and at the rate it's been climbing it will likely be at $3.50 by Memorial Day. So you would think that under these circumstances anyone who is actually looking at a new car would be taking a serious look at a hybrid. Not according to a Detroit News writer who says that very few actually purchase a hybrid.

But of course as the old line from the numbers guys says, Tell me which side of the argument you are on and I'll give you the statistics to prove you're right. She focused on the fact that hybrids only comprised 1.5 percent of US sales in 2006. While this is true, it's also true that several mainstream hybrid models currently available only came out later in the year or earlier this year such as the new Camry hybrid, the Altima and the new Saturn Aura Green Line.

What the writer fails to note is that while still a relatively small fraction of the total market, it is a fairly rapidly growing segment of the market, and one which is likely to grow quite a bit faster in the next couple of years. April 2007 sales of hybrids grew 26% compared to 2006 and for the second consecutive month, the market share was over two percent. The hybrid sales figure also don't include General Motors sales since they don't break those out separately yet. If sales of the Saturn Vue and Aura were added in hybrid sales would be even higher. Increasing availability of relatively inexpensive mild hybrids like those from GM will also help since they are less dependent on disappearing federal tax credits.

[Source: Detroit News and Green Car Congress]

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