Hybrid buyers who want a new car don’t buy another one, study says

Article by Christian A., on April 9, 2012

Although gasoline prices keep rising, it appears that the customers who bought hybrid vehicles in the United States and want a new car want something else besides another hybrid. According to a Polk study, almost two-thirds of U.S. hybrid buyers chose a non-hybrid car. Moreover, repurchase rate among hybrid buyers dropped to 22 percent, but the big surprise is that the Toyota Prius owners are excluded.

Back in 2009, the loyalty rate for hybrids was 41.8 percent, while in 2010 this was 41.8 percent and 35 percent in 2011. Still, there are good news for the carmakers that invested heavily into developing hybrid vehicles, as these cars attract new buyers to the brand and may also help them to retain them. A good example is Toyota, which expanded its Prius line to three body styles and earlier this year introduced a plug-in version.

According to Polk, back in 2011, 60 percent of Prius owners back in the market bought a Toyota brand vehicle. Honda is far away as 52 percent of hybrid owners stayed with the brand but less than one in five bought another hybrid from any brand.

The big problem for hybrid carmakers is that other manufacturers are developing non-hybrid vehicles that need less fuel to cover the same distance. As a result, the hybrid U.S. auto sales dropped 2.4 percent in 2011, down from 2.9 percent in 2010.

The processes used in building the new Toyota Prius will reduce pollution at every stage, from production to driving to disposal.

Prius’ third-generation will extend its record of continued fuel economy improvements. From the first-generation that rated 41 EPA combined mpg to the current model with an EPA rated combined city/highway 46 mpg, combined technologies increased fuel efficiency to an estimated 50 miles per gallon for this new Prius.

New Toyota Prius will be powered by a bigger and more powerful 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine. Seemingly contradictory, a larger engine actually improves highway mileage. With more torque, the new engine runs at a lower average rpm on the highway. Lower rpm means less fuel use. Mileage is even more improved in cold-start conditions and at higher speeds.

An electric water pump and new exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system contributes to engine efficiency. The 1.8-liter engine is the first Toyota power plant that does not require belts under the hood, meaning it can be associated with potentially less maintenance and improved fuel economy.

A standard multi-information display panel monitors energy and fuel consumed, providing feedback through three different displays that help drivers develop better driving habits.

A full hybrid from the start, the Toyota Prius has differentiated itself from most other hybrids. It can rely on just the engine, just the battery or both. It combines the best parallel and series designs for hybrids, achieving operating ability in electric mode and battery charging while running the car.

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