Are Hybrids and Electric Vehicles "Overhyped?"

October 29, 2010

Forget about the headlines and excitement around the impending delivery of the long-awaited Chevrolet Volt plug-in extended range hybrid and the Nissan Leaf plug-in EV, and the ever-increasing sales figures for the Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid on the planet.  The researchers at J. D. Power and Associates say that future global demand for hybrid and battery electric vehicles may be "over-hyped." 

Their "Drive Green 2020" report predicts green vehicle sales will remain in the single digits because of a variety of concerns we buyers have with the new technology. These include:

  • we want to be green, and are interested in buying green vehicles, but don't want to pay the extra price
  • prices won't come down until sales volumes increase, or until government incentives -- federal, state and local -- off-set the price premium
  • we  remain concerned about hybrid and electric technology, especially battery life and the cost and environmental issues of replacing a spent hybrid or electric car battery
  • we buyers are not sure about the resale value of an alt-powered vehicle because of the other concerns
  • we aren't in love with the look or overall power and performance of alt-powered vehicles
  • we suffer "range anxiety", or the fear of running out of battery power between charges
Of course, the J. D. Power prediction of continued single-digit sales, and our concerns about price and performance, all go right out the window if and when gas prices go back to $4 a gallon.
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