Greens to Hybrids: We Don't Love You No More

 Over at National Review Online’s Planet Gore, Henry Payne has an intriguing little post pointing out that Obama’s forced marriage between car consumers and hybrids won’t work. That’s because even the most committed greens end up divorcing their hybrids and buying a non-hybrid the second time around – despite the hefty upfront dowry they have gotten from Uncle Sam for their first marriage.

A study by a Michigan-based research firm Polk found that only 35 percent of hybrid-owners choose to purchase another hybrid. Even worse, if you remove the Toyota Prius, the most popular hybrid from the mix, commitment to hybrids drops to 25 percent. This means that a whopping 75 percent of non-Prius hybrid customers chose to ditch the hybrid – and this is for the greenest of green consumers, mind you. Payne notes:

That helps explain why hybrid sales have flat-lined at just 2 to 3 percent of vehicle sales after over a decade on the market — and despite huge buyer tax incentives and a doubling of hybrid model offerings since 2007…

No doubt because they can’t justify their $5,000-plus markup over a standard gas model, a markup they don’t get back in gas savings.

But that of course hasn’t stopped President Obama from effectively mandating that all new vehicles in U.S. sold by 2025 be hybrid-electric or electric. That’s because only one vehicle, Nissan Leaf, currently meets Obama’s 56 mpg fuel-economy mandate, Payne points out. Even the vaunted 2012 Prius, at 50 mpg, falls short. There is no technology currently available or on the horizon that will allow standard gas cars to meet that standard -- although one can't rule out divine intervention.

But don't worry if that doesn't come: When the car companies start heading toward bankruptcy once again because there is a mismatch between what consumers want and what their government wants them to produce, Uncle Sam will come to the rescue with electric-car-loads of taxpayer dollars.

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  • tarran||

    One of the more entertaining sights in the wealthy suburb of Boston that I live in (home to famous Massachusetts liberals like Mitt Romney ;) ) is the sight of Priuses (Prii?) careening down the hills in winter-time.

    The heavy battery pack + the tires w/ only a lil' bitty contact patch makes for some amusing slaloming.

    Not so fun when you are in a car stopped at a crosswalk and you see one of those guys sliding towards you in the rear view mirror.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    People done here need to learn of snow tires.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Toyota has declared it to be Prii. Probably better would be Priora or Priores.

  • Agammamon||

    Screw 'em, as far as I'm concerned its Prius' (sic) pronounced pry-us-es

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's it supposed to be prior to, anyway? A cost-effective car?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Apostrophes are for possessive, not plural.

  • Randian||

    A study by a Michigan-based research firm Polk found that only 35 percent of hybrid-owners choose to not to purchase another hybrid.

    I assume you meant "chose not to".

    That is a pretty amazing number, as it demonstrates severe dissatisfaction with the product.

  • ||

    I would assume he mean "choose to", as in "holy shit, these things have such a shitty ROI that only 35% choose to get more of them".

  • Anacreon||

    Wow -- they already fixed "only 35 percent of hybrid-owners choose to not to purchase another hybrid" to "only 35 percent of hybrid-owners choose to purchase another hybrid". Now that's the kind of service that keeps me coming back to Reason!

  • NAR||

    The ROI on my hybrid is great eight years later. I still get significantly better mileage than new non-hybrid versions of the car, and have more than saved the difference.

    That said, my next car is likely not to be a hybrid because I have different needs now that my kid is getting older and we got a big-ass dog.

  • NAR||

    So if people drive a small car in their 20s, but then get a larger car when they have kids, does that mean that people are dissatisfied with small cars?

    Nope. It means that at this point in their life that type of car is not the right one.

    People are taking more from this study than is there.

  • Agammamon||

    Who can afford a $5k+ price premium on an econobx in their 20's?

  • Rasilio||

    Um, I don't think there are very many 20 year olds buying $40,000+ cars, at least not ones they paid for themselves.

    A more likely story is they got the Hybrid at 18 as a gift from Parents of Grandparents for their birthday or graduation or some such but 8 years later when it is time to replace it because the Battery is fixing to die and they can't afford the $10,000 repair they find the can't afford a $40,000 car and so buy something more affordable.

  • ||

    That is a pretty amazing number, as it demonstrates severe dissatisfaction with the product.

    Not necessarily. There were not nearly as many good high-mpg cars 6-7 years ago as there are today. If high mpg is your main selling point, there are cheaper ways to do it that hardly existed a few years ago.

    (Full disclosure: my fiance drives a Prius and I hate it.)

  • Agammamon||

    Given that the main sellikng point of hybrids is the low gas mileage and that the competitors are roughly equal if not still slightly worse in this area, then I would say that people are very dissatisfied for the price they pay to get that performance and choose another product.

  • Ramjet||

    Why do I keep reading this blog? Almost always so depressing....

  • steve walsh||

    Compare the hybrids to a Chevy Cruze and you'll find a significantly better value in the Chevy. Costs less up front, and any loss in terms of gas mileage adds up to less, during the life of the car, than the upfront cost differential.

    I needed a rental car for a trip from Boston to Albany and got a Cruze; it was a nice ride and made the round trip on a single tank of gas. I've driven a family member's Prius and would say the Cruze is every bit as comfortable to drive.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Depends on when you buy (and how long you keep the car). I bought a new Prius 15 months ago for 20K. Two months later, 3-year old ones were going for 22K, new ones for 25K. Same exact pattern happened this winter. As soon as the spring gas price increases come, the demand outstrips the supply. During the winter, there is no hybrid premium on the Prius.

    I get 58 mpg in mine. See no reason to buy a Camry, nor any other hybrid on the market as they are all vastly inferior to the Prius and aren't worth the premium.

    And there is zero-value in any UAW-built automobile.

  • Evil Otto||

    And the Cruze is a quality GM product, so you won't have to pay much in repair costs.

    I tried typing this with a straight face but failed miserably.

  • Tim||

    SOVIET INDUSTRY IS BUILDINK MORE TRAKTORS!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    MNG would disapprove.

  • NAR||

    What forced marriage is Obama doing? I bought my hybrid in 2004 and got a good tax break on it when the House, Senate and White House were all in GOP hands.

    Plus, you could probably make the same argument about many other types of cars. I drove a Ford Ranger pickup before I bought my hybrid -- did that mean I hated pickups? No, it meant I had a newborn baby and needed a different type of car. Before the pickup I had a two door hatchback, but got a pickup since I bought a house and needed to move stuff. Didn't mean two door hatches were on the downside.

    My next car might be a hybrid, might not be. But it's not because I am giving up on the technology, just that it might not meet with what I need at that time.

    But I am rapidly beginning to consider Reason magazine similar to Daily Kos, ideologically biased just on the other side of the aisle.

  • Evil Otto||

    Dalmia also fails to analyze how many owners of gas-only vehicles switch to hybrids. She doesn't seem to be comfortable in our dynamically changing marketplaces, since she expects that any type of product must keep 100% of its users or disappear.

  • ||

    I would suggest that's an independent question. Repeat buyer analysis is more important than first time suckers.

    Fool me once, twice, blah blah

  • ant1sthenes||

    "What forced marriage is Obama doing?"

    I believe that's referring to the eventual increase in mileage requirements that will allegedly force all non-hybrids or electrics out of the markets (though if electrics don't have some kind of mileage/kW rating, that's ridiculously unfair, and environmentally unsound).

  • LarryA||

    though if electrics don't have some kind of mileage/kW rating, that's ridiculously unfair, and environmentally unsound

    Whatever for? Electricity is free and produces absolutely no pollution. Sez so on the label!

  • Brandon||

    Wow, your poorly-presented anecdote is certainly more convincing than the study cited in this article. I'm on TEAM BLUE now!

  • Evil Otto||

    Oh look, Dalmia didn't do the research again. Roughly 15 seconds of googling reveals an analysis of actual hybrid registrations by the same Polk research firm, rather than the bizarre proxy of owner loyalty, which shows that but apparently that's more than Reason expects from its writers.

    And of course, the registration study indicates that hybrid ownership is actually growing fairly strongly.

  • Greg F||

    And of course, the registration study indicates that hybrid ownership is actually growing fairly strongly.

    You are missing the point of the article. The subject was only 35 percent of hybrid-owners choose to purchase another hybrid. The link to registrations being up doesn’t address that at all.

  • Greg F||

    Hey Reason! I tried to post a comment and got the message:

    Your comment contains a word that is too long (50 characters).

    There was no word that long.

  • Greg F||

    Well figured it out. If you use quotes it considers everything in the quote to be one word.

  • mr lizard||

    Just buy a smart car. The repair shop gave me a hideous one as a loner. Ran a full day of errands and the gas needle didn't budge.

  • Agammamon||

    'Cuz it cost over 12 grand and a freaking *Yaris* which has, like, twice the internal volume costs 14.5K.

    ANd their website makes you sit through a 30 second flash screen (with no option to skip) before you get to the part where you can select the option to go to the damn crap you came to see in the first place.

    And its not even a cool video.

  • LarryA||

    Evidently none of your errands involved shopping.

  • Drake||

    I was going to buy a diesel VW at one point. Ran the numbers and the fuel savings wouldn't pay the difference in purchase price for years.

    If the EPA lets in more diesels, I would definitely consider them. I have no interest in hybrids.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The weather report came in. There's a chance that Tulpa drives a hybrid.

  • PapayaSF||

    There is no technology currently available or on the horizon that will allow standard gas cars to meet that standard

    The technology exists, but not the ability to use it to create cars that are both affordable and pass mandated crash safety tests.

  • LarryA||

    There is no technology currently available or on the horizon that will allow standard gas cars to meet that standard -- although one can't rule out divine intervention.

    Does an election count?

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