March 7, 2009

Demands, prices down for hybrid autos

Hybrid vehicles are losing their appeal among U.S. consumers now that gasoline prices have come down, auto industry analysts said.

As a result, there is an oversupply of new hybrids and a drop in prices for used hybrids, USA Today reported Friday.

Juan Flores -- director of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book -- told the newspaper used hybrid values are down 23.5 percent from their summer 2008 peak, even though used vehicle prices overall are rising in response to increasing demand as Americans turn away from new car purchases.

With gasoline selling for around $4 a gallon last summer, used hybrids were selling for roughly the same as new ones -- and people who wanted new hybrids had to deal with waiting lists and selling prices significantly higher than sticker prices, the report said.

Now, Flores said, hybrid sales are hurting.

The premium between a hybrid and a non-hybrid is probably not justifiable in the minds of the consumer during this recessionary period, because you're not going to make your money back, he said.

In many cases, new hybrids sell for $3,000 more than their non-hybrid equivalent, USA Today said.

Mike Jackson, chief executive officer of AutoNation, an automobile retailer, told the newspaper demand for hybrids -- and other highly fuel-efficient autos -- has nosedived.

The industry switched over to producing fuel-efficient cars all summer, and now, all those vehicles are in stock, he said. Now, we have fuel-efficient cars as far as the eye can see.