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As sales fall, is the hybrid car fad over?

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As sales fall, is the hybrid car fad over?

08:47 AM

Will it turn out that hybrid cars were just a fad that will go the way of bell-bottom pants?

The sales numbers so far this year seem to point to the possibility. Ford Escape Hybrid sales were off 23.7% through the first seven months of the year, Toyota Camry hybrid sales were down 42.5% and Honda Civic Hybrid sales fell 72%, Autodata reports. Toyota Prius sales are up only 4% even though the model is still fairly new.

And the Wall Street Journal points to other disturbing data. Hybrid car sales are falling in the San Francisco Bay area, the bastion of environmental consciousness. After peaking in 2007, they were down 36% last year and haven't perked up. Of course, the weak economy could factor in that as well.

Gasoline prices are generally staying less than $3 a gallon in much of the country, mitigating a lot of cocktail party boasting about how much mileage a gallon a particular car gets. And the word is out that even high mileage electric cars on just over the horizon, with the first due to go on sale by the end of the year.

But the hybrid sales issue could be bad news for automakers like Hyundai, which is about to launch a hybrid version of the Sonata sedan, or Infiniti, which has a hybrid M class on the way.



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