Gas engines still rule the marketplace, study says

When hybrid cars first debuted, there was a lot of laughter in the industry. And rightly so. The first hybrid models were expensive and ugly, a combination that was just too much to swallow for car lovers, even those concerned about the environment. But, while the mainstream media has been touting the rise of the electric vehicle – and recent advertising shows car makers are following suit – it seems that gas-powered car fans may have the last laugh after all.

On April 9, Polk, the automotive data and research company, released the results of a new poll that indicates that many of the Americans that buy electric cars quickly fall out of love with these models. According to the study, only 35 percent of current hybrid vehicles owners chose to buy another hybrid vehicle when returning to their local dealer in 2011.

Additionally, researchers indicated that this figure may even be a bit generous, as it was buoyed by popular models, particularly the Toyota Prius. Without factoring in Prius owners in the survey, Polk indicated that the rate at which hybrid vehicle owners are buying alternative cars again drops below 25 percent.

“The lineup of alternate-drive vehicles and their premium price points just aren’t appealing enough to consumers to give the segment the momentum it once anticipated, especially given the growing strength of fuel economy among compact and midsize competitors,” Lacey Plache, a chief economist for, said in the release.

This perception could change, however. At the 2012 New York International Auto Show, which we covered earlier this week on the blog, showcased hybrid cars that prove that all hybrids aren’t “uglier than homemade sin,” as one blogger suggests.

The Fisker Atlantic may be the car to change perception. With sleek lines, a luxury-interior and a proposed modest price tag, the high-end vehicle – and the many others that will likely follow in its footsteps – could prove to be just what the industry needs to finally get car fans onboard with electric vehicles.

Gas Engines Still Rule