12.5% Of The US Car Buying Market Accounts for 29% of Hybrid And 41% Of Electric Vehicle Sold In 2012.

2013 Chevy VoltIf fuel efficient car ownership were a competition, the western United States just annihilated the rest of the country. Tom Libby of Polk has crunched the numbers for the first 10 months of 2012 and despite only representing 12.5% of the market, the western United States accounted for 29% of new hybrid vehicle sales and 41% of new electric vehicle sales.

According to Mr. Libby’s data, 7% of all new vehicle sales for the top 15 DMAs (Designated Marketing Areas) were hybrids. And in the San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose DMA, nearly 10% of the new cars sold were hybrid. Of the top 15 DMAs for hybrid and electric car sales – 9 were located in California, 4 in Oregon and 1 each for Washington and Arizona.

In the bottom 15 DMAs, which were predominantly located in Louisiana and Texas, hybrid sales represented 1.5% of new car purchases and electric vehicles only .01%. The bottom 15 DMAs represent 6.6% of the new car buying market.

What can you take away from this data? If you’re buying a hybrid or electric vehicle and you live on the west coast, you should probably haggle more. [Polk via GCR]


All Traffic Moves Faster With Hybrids In HOV Lane – Even The HOV Lane

Clean Air Vehicle Sticker - CaliforniaResearchers from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), Michael Cassidy and Kitae Jang, just completed a study about the effect on traffic speed caused by the inclusion and now exclusion of Hybrid cars from the HOV lane. Since 2005, California has allowed Hybrid vehicles access to the HOV lanes as an incentive to purchase low emission cars. That all ended in July 2011 when lawmakers decided to do away with that perk.

What happened? According to Cassidy and Jang’s analysis, it slowed down traffic in all lanes – even the HOV lanes with carpoolers only. It seems to go against logic but the now less-congested carpool lane drivers slowed down to match the reduced speeds of the more-congested highway traffic. And safety may be another reason HOV/carpool drivers are slowing down; they’re anticipating cars jumping in and out of their lane. [NY Times]


How Do You Justify Purchasing A Hybrid Vehicle vs Non-Hybrid Vechicle?

hybrid-vs-non-hybridBased on the NY Times Green Blog story, “Hybrids vs. Nonhybrids: The 5-Year Equation”

If you are deciding right now on what type of car to get – hybrid or non-hybrid – just based on fuel consumption, can you justify the additional expense of a hybrid over five years? That is the question Consumer Reports attempted to answer and it was later reported in the NY Times Green Blog.

They used examples including the Lexus RX350 (non-hybrid) vs the Lexus RX450h (hybrid) which costs $6200 more than its non-hybrid brother. The RX350 gets approx 21 mpg and the RX450h gets 26 mpg and based on sheer fuel efficiency numbers and according to the report, buying the hybrid 450h would only make fiscal sense if gas were priced at $8.77 gallon for the next five years. Check out the article for more information on this and other models.

But for me, the numbers just don’t seem to add up. With the Lexus RX350 vs RX450h comparison, the $6200 price difference breaks down to $1250 per year for five years. (The article based its numbers on driving an average of 12,000 miles per year.)

Gas price Lexus RX350 (21 mpg)
(cost to operate)
Lexus RX450 (26 mpg)
(cost to operate)
(per year)
$2.80/gal $1600/year $1292/year $308
$8.77/gal $5011/year $4047/year $964
$11.35/gal $6480/year $5232/year $1248

Through my very simple calculations, the sweet spot for buying the Lexus RX450h Hybrid seems to be when gas prices hit $11.35/gallon.

Cost effective or not, should you buy a hybrid? That’s up the individual. At the very least, driving a hybrid will reduce your consumption of gasoline or you could just find ways to drive either type less than the 12,000 miles per year average. Either way, the ultimate goal is to find ways to consume less whether you drive a hybrid or not. The NYTimes article may help some decide what to buy but I’ve already made my decision. I’m driving my car until I’m Fred Flinstoning it to where I need to go.