US consumers not loyal to hybrid technology, says Polk report
The research looked at buyer habits since the beginning of 2008, a period during which the United States has seen fuel prices per gallon almost double, as well as the effects of the recent recession. In 2008, hybrids made up 2.9% of the total car market , which fell to 2.4% during 2011, despite the number of available models more than doubling.
Brad Smith, director of Polk's Loyalty Management Practice, said: ‘Having a hybrid in the product lineup can certainly give a brand a competitive edge when it comes to attracting new customers. The repurchase rates of hybrid vehicles are an indication that consumers are continuing to seek alternative solutions to high fuel prices.’
Brand loyalty is high though. Of the Toyota hybrid owners who bought another in 2011, 60% stayed with Toyota, while 52% of Honda hybrid owners stayed with the manufacturer when buying last year. Data from car review site Edmunds.com showed buyers were comparing hybrids to efficient conventionally-powered vehicles.
Edmunds.com chief economist Lacey Plache commented: ‘The lineup of alternate-drive vehicles and their premium price points just aren't appealing enough to consumers to give the segment the momentum it once anticipated, especially given the growing strength of fuel economy among compact and midsize competitors. For EVs and PHEVs in particular, certain obstacles — including consumer unease with unfamiliar technology and the lack of an adequate recharging infrastructure — will need to be overcome before sales increase.’