By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Let's hope commentators and business experts who believe hybrid car sales are down because gas is cheap (for the moment) are wrong. I hope my fellow Americans are more forward-thinking in the major purchases than whether gas is $2.00 or $4.00/gallon. It may be just above $2.00/gallon right now. But we all know as soon as U.S. and world demand rises, pulled from the doldrums as countries come out of the recession, gas is going right back up to where it was.
People should buy hybrids because they use the technology of the future and because they are (overall) easier on the environment, not because Americans are only concerned about gas prices. I've heard the stories about hybrids needing new, very expensive, batteries every so often. I also know some people say recycling these powerful batteries puts just as much strain on the environment as using a gas engine.
Sorry, I don't believe it. I still think hybrids are to greenies as oil is to OPEC--the sine qua non. But auto experts say gas prices are the only thing driving hybrid sales:
U.S. auto sales last year fell 18 percent to 13.2 million, with hybrids representing about 2.3 percent of all new-car sales. First-quarter 2009 data is even more gloomy. Total light vehicle retail sales in the U.S. were down more than 38 percent, according to New Jersey-based market data firm Autodata.
Nationwide sales of hybrid vehicles peaked last April when gas was about $3.50 a gallon. Hybrid sales for February 2009 barely reached 15,000 units, down two-thirds from that April high. Dave Sinclair Jr., vice president of the Dave Sinclair Automotive Group, said interest in hybrids jumped when gas reached $4 per gallon. "At $2, they don't have any interest in them."
If that's correct, it's too bad!
Check out our political cartoons.