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While buyers are still hungry for cheaper gas-thrifty hybrid cars, some of the bigger models are sitting longer on sales lots, according to a report in USA Today.
The smaller Toyota Prius and Honda Civic gas-electric hybrids remain hits that are in short supply. But the luxury Lexus RX 400h SUV and Honda Accord sedan hybrids have been taking longer to sell than their conventional counterparts.
Ford Motor and Toyota have added some modest incentives to their hybrid SUVs, often a signal that sales haven’t met expectations.
The problem, analysts say, is that the bigger, fancier hybrids often carry a higher price differential compared with their conventional versions. The sticker price of a Toyota Highlander SUV hybrid is $6,590 more than the six-cylinder gas-only model. By comparison, the compact Civic hybrid costs $2,890 more than the most comparable conventional model.
The Highlander hybrid delivers a government-rated 33 miles a gallon in city driving, 28 on the highway. The conventional six-cylinder model gets 19 mpg in the city, 25 on the highway.
“The customer will only pay so much” extra for a hybrid, says Tom Libby of the Power Information Network, which provides data to the auto industry. It also helps to have a distinctive look, which the Prius does.
While buyers “want to be ‘green’ when they can, it all comes down to price,” says Mark McCready, pricing expert for CarsDirect.com.
But Ron Cogan, publisher of the “Green Car Journal,” says consumers will catch on to the bigger hybrids.
The Prius and Civic were easy decisions for buyers worried about high gas prices because of their relatively low prices and high gas mileage. “For the other categories, it’s going to take longer to capture the attention of buyers,” he says.