According to a recent report from National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), hybrids have saved the country 5.5 million barrels of oil since they were introduced in 1999. Unfortunately, the US net imports of oil in 2003 were 11.24 million barrels per day, and 8.55 million barrels per day went to light duty vehicle use.
Hybrid sales keep increasing, though. It seems like each month, their market share increases.
I wonder how they calculated that savings? Did they compare hybrid mpg vs the average mpg use or did they compare the Toyota Prius against the Corolla and the Civic Hybrid against the Civic? It's hard to guess at what the other car a buyer would have gotten instead of a hybrid.
The Green Wombat had this to say
Of course, that impact would be magnified if General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and other U.S. automakers focused less on creating hybrid versions of monster SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and more on developing small and mid-sized hybrids. Or all-electric cars, for that matter.
But that's kind of foolish. As my post on how much more you save on the lower part of the fuel economy scale points out, increases of fuel economy on those gas hogs make a bigger difference than at the upper end of the scale.
Update: according to the physorg writeup:
The conventional vehicles selected were models by the same manufacturer that most closely matched the hybrid electric vehicles in terms of size, weight and performance.
I'm not sure that's a fair assessment of what these drivers would have done in the absence of hybrid cars. The early adopters may have been taken in by the automaker, but I doubt it. The appeal of a hybrid was either the technology or the fuel economy.