With High Gas Prices, Fewer Dealer Discounts on Hybrids

For most of 2009 and 2010, it was a buyer’s market for hybrid cars. Gas prices and the economy were down, so Toyota and other dealers offering hybrids provided tried-and-true dealer incentives and customer perks to stimulate sales. The pendulum has swung in the other direction in 2011.

“We were discounting [hybrids] for a while, because they weren’t in demand,” said Anita Moyer, Sales Consultant, Las Cruces Toyota, in an interview with KRWG News in New Mexico. “Once they get in demand, we probably will not be discounting them. Gas prices go up and you can definitely see a trend in people trying to get rid of their lower mileage gas hogs.” She said that Priuses are traditionally the first cars “to fly off the lot.”

Buyers are looking for hybrids that combine fuel efficiency and an affordable price, like the Honda CR-Z.

Len Crawford, of Rudolph Honda in El Paso, Tex., said he’s seen about a 10 percent spike in people trading in gas-guzzlers. “Hybrids will cost you a little bit more, but not much. But, the difference that you see in the gas prices definitely offsets that,” Crawford said, in a report from KTSM in El Paso, Tex.

While there are nearly 30 hybrid gas-electric vehicles now on the market, increased interest is focused on smaller, affordable hybrids from Toyota, Honda and Ford—rather than luxury and SUV hybrids which continue sell in relatively low numbers.

More Interest, Less Knowledge

Higher gas prices and increased interest in hybrids comes at a time when the industry is offering these fuel-efficient alternatives in greater numbers and with a greater array of technologies—from conventional hybrids to electric cars. This is creating confusion, according to a new survey from Synovate, a London-based market research firm.

Based on a survey of nearly 2,000 new car buyers, conducted between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, 2010, there are many persistent misperceptions about green cars:

  • Only two-thirds knew that hybrids use both gasoline and batteries
  • Many respondent thought that all hybrid need to be plugged in
  • Less than half of the buyers knew that plug-in hybrids (like the Chevy Volt or upcoming Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid) can run purely and electricity; and many didn’t know that plug-in hybrids also use gasoline.

Stephen Popiel, senior vice president of Synovate Motoresearch, said, “In the short term, dealers will have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining the workings of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles.”

So, just as dealers are becoming less generous with deals on the current generation of hybrid cars, they will need to become more generous with information about the next wave of greener electric-drive vehicles.


  • Capt. Concernicus

    Only two-thirds knew that hybrids use both gasoline and batteries

    Many respondent thought that all hybrid need to be plugged in

    Less than half of the buyers knew that plug-in hybrids (like the Chevy Volt or upcoming Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid) can run purely and electricity; and many didn’t know that plug-in hybrids also use gasoline.

    —These are probably the same people that went back to buying full size trucks and SUV’s when gas prices were low back in the beginning of 2009.

  • Max Reid

    Yes Capt.

    They thought that $4 gas prices are short term trend and it will go back to $1 in the long term. Today the equity of their vehicles will go down drastically.

    Insight is the most affordable Hybrid starting at 18.2K.

    I am happy that atleast 2/3 know about hybrid. 5 years ago even 1/3 would not have known.

    As Chinese and others keep buying more vehicles, oil prices will continue to increase steadily and Americans will change their driving habits.

    Already airlines are feeling the pinch and they are increasing the fares. Last month GM gave big discounts to sell their gas guzzlers, they cannot continue this practice for long.

  • Max Reid

    OPEC, Oil companies and oilmen spread the false info that Hybrids need to be plugged in. The green media and the hybrid owners put an effort to convince the people as how it works.

    Again Oil companies are spreading the news that plugins will pollute more because of Coal fired electricity.

    But only 45 % of electricity comes from Coal while 0.9 % comes from Oil and rest from other cleaner sources like gas, nuclear, renewables.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table1_1.html

    Even this 0.9% that comes from petroleum can be phased out, if people install a room airconditioner and shut off the centralized AC. Also they can install solar panels which generate electricity during the summer months when the demand is high.

  • Anonymous

    the timing of japan earthquake can’t be worse… this may mean less hybrids will be available for awhile

  • JamesDavis

    The earthquake in Japan affected the whole world. That means that here in America, we will not be getting any electric cars for at least two decades now and the American auto makers will be snickering all the way to the bank with their over inflated priced – and under quality hybrids and ICE vehicles and Americans will be suffering with loss of jobs because they will not be able to afford to drive to work. Since America has no transit systems, Americans will be walking to work or riding their bicycles…if they have bicycles.

    Greedy, stupid businesses in America will end up destroying our economy again and we will need to start learning the Chinese language or move to China if they will allow incredible stupid people migrate to their country.

  • Anonymous

    Hello James

    GM & Ford has Hybrids with better technology, that why Fusion Hybrid gets 41 MPG while Camry Hybrid gets 34 MPG.

    But they are not applying this in small affordable hatchback like Prius.

    Dont worry, they will fix the plant in a month, though the Leaf sales this month will go down. If American automakers are greedy, then people should buy smaller vehicles.

    Today the gas prices are 3.55 / gallon and the Diesel prices are 3.92 / gallon. We can see the price of many food items have increased drastically in the last 2 weeks. Its high time, we trade in the gas guzzlers. I traded my Olds Cutlass V6 for a Prius V4.

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  • T.J. James

    I have a Camry Hybrid and I get over 40 mpg driving completely normally. The EPA estimates are about right if you drive with a lead foot all the time and can actually overestimate the fuel economy that many Americans will get from these cars. Its all about how you drive not what you drive. I just bought a Mazda 3 hatch recently and I’m regretting not buying the Fusion hybrid because I love that car.

  • DownUnder

    Anon,
    Compare Camry & Fusion:
    http://www.newcars.com/reviews/toyota-camry-vs-ford-fusion-sedan.html
    Camry MPG is 20-22 city and 29-33 highway vs Fusion 17-23 and 24-33.
    Not much different but Fusion MPG fluctuates more.

  • Anonymous

    Sean t

    I was comparing between Fusion Hybrid and Camry Hybrid and not in the regular gas models.

    In Hybrids, Fusion have overtaken Camry in sales almost the year ago and holds the lead. May be Sonata Hybrid could overtake it.

    Ideally we should get another Hybrid Hatch like Prius or Insight.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I’d be surprised if you even get a combined 40 mpg in that car…

  • Annon

    Anonymous said: “GM & Ford has Hybrids with better technology, that why Fusion Hybrid gets 41 MPG while Camry Hybrid gets 34 MPG.”

    Well, according to the users reported mileage on fueleconomy.gov:

    2010 Ford Fusion hybrid (31 users): 37.9 mpg
    2008-10 Toyota Camry hybrid (62 users): 36.7 mpg

    The difference is 3.3%.

    From users reported mileage on fuelly.com:

    Ford Fusion hybrid (10 users): 35.9 mpg
    Toyota Camry hybrid (31 users): 35.9 mpg

    In this case, the reported mileages from users are tied.

    Is the U.S. government going to ask scientists from NASA to investigate why Ford Fusion hybrid’s supposed mileage advantage is not reflected in real-life driving?

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