Owners of gas-electric hybrids and battery electric vehicles are less and less likely to trade for another one, according to data from auto buying and research site Edmunds.com. Even more surprising: they are increasingly likely to shift to SUVs.
The disenchantment with clean-air fuel savers appears to be the result mainly of relatively low fuel prices, though there also seems to be a decline in their being seen as “special.”
“For better or worse, it looks like many hybrid and EV owners are driven more by financial motives rather than a responsibility to the environment,” says Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell. “Three years ago, when gas was at near-record highs, it was a lot easier to rationalize the price premiums on alternative fuel vehicles. But with today’s gas prices as low as they are, the math just doesn’t make a very compelling case.”
It’s a blow to the sentiment of Earth Day today, the 45th annual fete for the planet.
And it’s bad news for automakers, who need to sell more and more alternative-power vehicles to meet tightening federal fuel-economy rules.
To avoid a backlog, General Motors recently cut the prices of its Spark EV and Cadillac ELR extended-range electric and temporarily halted production of its Chevrolet Voltplug-in car.