Falling fuel prices and penny pinching consumers are not a plus for energy-saving technology, particularly the big ticket variety. And the latest auto sales figures complicate the plans of those who’d push Detroit towards making hybrids as one of the bailout concessions.
From the Financial Times:
US hybrid petro-electric sales in November shrank 53 per cent from a year earlier, compared with a 37 per cent drop overall, according to Autodata, a market-research firm. December sales, to be announced on Monday, are to show a similar trend.
Sales of most hybrid models have dropped sharply. Demand for Toyota’s Prius hatchback, the top-selling hybrid, fell by almost half in November from a year earlier. The Camry sedan was down 57 per cent, and the Ford Escape crossover 35 per cent.
The setback has been pronounced for larger models…
Edmunds.com estimates that a Prius owner must now wait more than eight years to recoup the extra cost of the vehicle in fuel savings, compared with three and a half years when the petrol price climbed above $4 a gallon last spring. The average price is now about $1.61.
Mr Pipas said that belt-tightening in the face of the weakening economy had become the dominant factor in the US car market. Small cars accounted for 18.7 per cent of sales in the three months to November, up from 16.6 per cent a year earlier, in spite of the slide in petrol prices.