Hybrid retail penetration is the lowest its been since January (PIN Insights, pdf). As a percentage of total retail sales, hybrids have fallen the past four months, from 2.6% in June to 2.1% in September. That 2.1% is the lowest hybrid penetration since January, which leads to the following conclusion from PIN:
While manufacturers are talking about building more environmentally
friendly vehicles, U.S. consumers may not be ready to purchase them.
While there's no doubt hybrid sales have fallen off, especially over the past two months, that decline is due mostly to the fall of the Highlander Hybrid as it switches over to the new model year. Toyota has not been pushing the change, which means that people aren't pushing to buy the old model.
We also seem to be in a flat point in gas prices. If gas prices continue to stay flat, hybrid car sales are bound to slow down, but if they trend upwards again, expect hybrid sales to go up.
One other counterpoint on whether US consumers are willing to buy hybrids: if you look at the Prius, which has become almost synonymous with the word hybrid, you see that sales were up (again) over 19% from last year.
It seems like some would rather look at the short term, rather than the long term sales picture.