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Hybrid Car Review: Innacurate Reports

Monday, September 18, 2006

Innacurate Reports

It's disappointing to see stories like this.

Hybrid Buying Guide 2006 -

As the highest-volume and most famous gas/electric hybrid, Toyota Motors' Prius sedan sets the tone for the hybrid market. So what does it mean that its American sales are down 3% this year?

Are buyers suddenly less fuel-conscious? Have they stopped liking the car's looks? More likely, the demise of a $3,000 tax credit is to blame. Hybrids are simply not the deals they once were.

If you read the second paragraph from the story above, you'll see how the writer attributes slower sales to the loss of the tax credit. Too bad the 'demise' of the tax credit (for Toyota) won't occur until the end of the month.

Sales of the Toyota Prius are down because Toyota started building the Toyota Camry hybrid. This took away production from the Prius. According to Toyota, every Prius made was being sold (and quickly according to days-on-the-lot numbers). With production of the Toyota Camry Hybrid being switched to the US soon, the production and sales of the Prius will most likely see a jump up.

The only stumbling block in the future may be the demise of the tax credit. After September 30th, consumers who purchase hybrids from Toyota will qualify for half of the credit.

The following paragraph is more accurate:
Other hybrids have hit the wall too. Sales of Honda Motor's Accord Hybrid sedan are down 64%. Ford Motor's 2006 Escape Hybrid SUV is carrying a $1,000 rebate and 0% financing. Last September, according to Automotive News, the 2005 model was not carrying any incentives, unless they were part of a company-wide sale affecting most 2005 Fords.

But the reasons for this drop in sales is more complex than what's indicated. The Honda Accord Hybrid was built to be a 'performance' hybrid. The electric engine was designed, not to give you the best fuel economy you would expect from a hybrid, but Honda focused on an increase in power, instead. Unfortunately, you're not getting that much more power over the conventional engine. With the premium for the hybrid engine thousands over that of the conventional engine, it just isn't worth the extra money. The Honda Civic Hybrid, on the other hand, was designed for fuel economy. And the sales are telling. The Civic hybrid is currently the third most popular hybrid being sold behind the Toyota Prius and Camry Hybrid. And sales are increasing, with car sales up 14.3% from last year (through August).

The Ford Escape Hybrid seems to suffer simply because it's a Ford, not because it's a hybrid. But, Ford is still increasing sales. In fact, through August, Ford has increased sales of the Escape and Mariner by 56.3%.

Overall hybrid car sales have increased 24.8% over last year. Now, some of that is because of the introduction of some new models, including the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Lexus GS450h. But not all. Despite the huge decrease in Accord hybrid sales, the market is still increasing.

There is some interesting, factual material in the article. It's just too bad that quite a bit of it is just plain wrong or misleading.

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