Gas-Electric Car Sales Expected to Rise in ’10

By dancurranjr On December 15th, 2009

nissan-ultima-hybridSales of fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrids are expected to rise next year, outpacing the U.S. auto market’s overall growth, according to a new forecast.

Automotive research firm predicted U.S. auto sales would recover modestly next year, to 11.5 million cars and light trucks from an estimated 10.3 million this year.

Its forecasters expect hybrids to outperform the market, even though they cost more, on average, than comparable gas-powered models.

Hybrids are expected to increase their share of the market to 3.2 percent in 2010 from around 2.8 percent this year, according to Edmunds. It expects the market share for hybrids to grow by about half a percentage point a year for the foreseeable future.

The share of diesel-powered light vehicles is expected to dip next year to 2.1 percent, from 2.2 percent this year, reflecting a reduction in the availability of diesel models due to more stringent emission rules coming into force.

The high point in the past decade for diesels was in 2006, when they accounted for 4.1 percent of total sales.

Pure electric vehicles will hit the market next year but will account for less than 1 percent of total sales, Edmunds estimated.

On the basis of past alternative-fuel trends, early adopters will snap up zero-emission electric cars right away, “but it will take some time before significant market share builds for the segment,” said Zhenwei Zhou, Edmunds’ senior statistician.

A poll conducted last month by Kelley Blue Book, the car pricing specialist, found that diesels topped the list of alternative technologies that consumers would consider.

Asked what type of alternative-fuel or alternative-powertrain vehicle they would be most likely to buy, 34 percent of respondents said diesel, 31 percent said hybrid, 21 percent replied electric, and 8 percent said compressed natural gas.

KBB said demand for hybrids and other fuel-efficient models would be underpinned next year by rising gasoline prices.

Consumers have several new hybrids to choose from, including gas-electric versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, Toyota’s redesigned Prius, a premium Lexus HS 250h and an all-new Insight from Honda Motor Co.


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