Loyalty waning among hybrid, electric car owners

Apr 27, 2015

The iconic wedge-shaped Prius is still the most popular hybrid vehicle in the U.S. by far.
Credit JBleeker / Creative Commons

The hybrid honeymoon may be over, at least while gas prices remain low.

Fewer than half of hybrid and electric car owners who traded the vehicles in during the first quarter of 2015 bought another hybrid or electric, according to Jessica Caldwell with Edmunds.com. 

"I think it shows how sensitive people are to fuel prices," says Caldwell, "and also the fuel economy of normal everyday cars has gotten a lot better."

Hybrids are also mainstream now.

"That special or unique quality is gone," she says. "So if you need more space, and gas prices are low, some of these owners, they're making the jump."

Caldwell says most people are trading in their hybrids for very fuel-efficient small cars.

But a surprising 22% of owners traded in hybrids for SUVs, back into "enemy territory," as Caldwell puts it.