Edmunds.com analysis finds hybrids and EVs struggle to maintain owner loyalty in US; trade-ins for SUVs
Car buyers are trading in hybrid and electric cars for SUVs at a higher rate than ever before, according to a new analysis from car-buying platform Edmunds.com. According to Edmunds.com, about 22% of people who have traded in their hybrids and EVs in 2015 bought a new SUV. The number is up from 18.8% last year, and it is nearly double the rate of 11.9% three years ago. Overall, only 45% of this year’s hybrid and EV trade-ins have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel vehicle, down from just above 60% in 2012. This marks the first time loyalty rates for alt-fuel vehicles have fallen below 50%.
For better or worse, it looks like many hybrid and EV owners are driven more by financial motives rather than a responsibility to the environment. Three years ago, when gas was at near-record highs, it was a lot easier to rationalize the price premiums on alternative fuel vehicles. But with today’s gas prices as low as they are, the math just doesn’t make a very compelling case.—Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell
Edmunds calculates that at the peak average national gas price of $4.67/gallon in October 2012, it would take five years to break even on the $3,770 price difference between a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460). At today’s national average gas price of $2.27/gallon, it would take twice as much time (10.5 years) to close the same gap.
Edmunds’ analysis comes at a time when overall sales of alternative vehicles have continued to slide. EVs and hybrids accounted for 2.7% of all new car sales in the first quarter of 2015, down from 3.3% during that same period last year. The share of SUVs, meanwhile, has increased from 31.8% in Q1 2014 to 34.2% in Q1 2015.