New Polk study finds hybrids struggle to attract repeat buyers

By on April 10, 2012 10:49 AM
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A new study by automotive research firm Polk has found that buyers of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. are not particularly inclined to remain part of that greener fold when it comes time to replace their vehicles. Since 2007, the number of hybrid choices in this market has more than doubled and fuel prices have risen from under $2.00/gallon in 2008 to nearly double that amount today. Even so, only 35 percent of owners decide to purchase a second hybrid. Equally telling, when stats for the world’s most successful hybrid, the Toyota Prius, are removed, the overall hybrid loyalty rate dropped to less than 25 percent.

More promising for automakers, Polk’s research revealed that hybrid owners did show a relatively high level of brand loyalty when it came time to buy a new vehicle. In 2011, 60 percent of Toyota hybrid owners stayed with the marque, while 41 percent bought another hybrid (Toyota or other). A similar, if less definitive, trend was seen in the case of Honda. There, 52 percent of its hybrid model buyers remained customers of the brand, and just under 20 percent opted for another hybrid.

According to Polk data, hybrids represent only 2.4 percent of the total new vehicle market in the U.S. compared to an all-time high of 2.9 percent in 2008.

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