What Stops People From Buying Hybrids?

Despite the fact that hybrid sales have shot through the roof (relatively speaking) as gas prices have increased, and that there are more hybrid makes and models to choose from, there are still plenty of reasons why hybrid cars might not be for everyone.

In order to try and find out why there’s not a hybrid car in ever driveway, I recently put up a poll on Daily Fuel Economy Tip which asked, “What’s stopping you from buying a hybrid car?” While it wasn’t unexpected, the responses were pretty varied:

  • 49% of respondents stated that hybrid cars are too expensive
  • 29% of respondents stated that they were waiting for plug-in hybrid vehicles
  • 11% of respondents stated that they just are not interested in buying a hybrid vehicle
  • 9% of respondents stated that hybrid cars are too small
  • 2% of respondents stated that they already owned a hybrid car

While I wasn’t all that surprised that the number one reason for not buying a hybrid was their price, I was pleasantly surprised that the number two reason was that people are waiting for plug-in hybrids to come out.

For those of you who don’t know what a plug-in hybrid is, it essentially combines the benefits of an electric car with the benefits of a hybrid car. Thanks to the larger battery capacity and the ability to charge while not moving, plug-in hybrids can average as high as 100 mph for the first one hundred to two hundred miles traveled between charges.

Thankfully, as stated in a previous article, you don’t necessarily have to own a hybrid or shell out a bunch of money to own a car that gets great gas mileage.


  1. When I was looking for a new car, I was trying to get a hybrid, but it was ridiculously expensive.

    You forgot another reason people don’t buy: They look like crap. Really, what does the Prius have to look like that? With the exception of the Accord, Civic and a few others, why do hybrids always look like something out of a funky Science Fiction movie?

    Baz L
    Day In The Life of Baz

  2. I think the technology is not good enough yet, at least not for me. Making the engine and motor share the same crankshaft keeps both from working at their optimum efficiency. Electric motors run easily over a wide range of speeds while IC engines are much better adapted to running within a narrow speed range, especially if fuel consumption is important. It seems obvious that successful future hybrids will use an IC engine that is decoupled from the electric motor(s) and run at an optimum speed to generate electric power for the motors which will power the wheels (and active suspension?) directly.

  3. Steve H. says

    The main thing that stops people is that it’s not cost effective to buy hybrids yet. Consumer Reports did a study of total costs of ownership of several hybrids, including tax benefits, comparing them to conventional cars of similar size. In no case was it a great cost advantage to buy a hybrid.

  4. JUST JACK says

    Just go to the Honda dealership and pick up a hybrid-civic. They are roomy enough for a family of 4, get 49-51 mpg and cost about $23k, $1,000-1,500 more than a conventional civic. Just get some other wheels, the ones that come on the hybrids are ugly as hell.

  5. @ #3 Doug, what you are describing is what GM has planned for the Chevy Volt.

  6. The technology is not there? To the writer who wrote that, you should do your homework. My new Prius is getting from 44 to 48 mpg, and that is in stop and go traffic jams, city and highway driving, every day. And who cares how it looks? So you are going to spend hundreds of dollars a year more in gasoline just to sit in a car you think makes you look cool? Here’s a hint for you – no one is looking at you or your car. And whoever said it is not cost-effective is wrong. I like spending $25 every other week for gasoline, versus the $45 every 4 days in our RAV. The new Prius has as much pickup as my 5-speed RAV and there’s more room. I paid $24K for the Prius 2 months ago and I’ll get a $700 rebate for my trouble. (your tax dollars at work!)

  7. William Wilgus says

    In the same sense that the extra expense of a Diesel is only justified if you do a lot of driving, hybrids only make sense if you do a lot of city driving. Also, since a hybrid has more components, there will be more repairs required.

  8. Lambert John says

    Hey, if I could afford a hybrid, I would buy one in a heartbeat. I do agree with one writer however, when he said that most of them are ugly – the Prius especially.

    Some folks consider their car an extension of who they are. You can say all day long, “well, who cares?” But the truth is, this is America, and we are a “cool car” nation. Always have been. People do actually care what they drive. Just look around you when you’re driving around town today. Do you see a world of Prius’? Probably not.

    The two things that would help increase hybrid sales is #1, make them affordable. And #2, make them ascetically appealing. There you go, a recipe for success.

  9. When there is a hybrid peoplemover/minivan like a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Tarago, that’s when I start thinking about replacing my current car. I’ve been wanting one of these for the past three years…

  10. I don’t own a hybrid like most people, because of the price. But there are lots of other reasons. I drive a toyota echo (now called Yaris in the US but was always called Yaris in Europe). It is not a hybrid (although its pretty ugly like the prius, haha) anyway, it has plenty of room (4 door, fine for a family of four, five in a pinch, I also like the real big trunk). It gets close to 40MPG. Never had any problems with the car, I actually own two of them, the oldest is from 2000. I bought the second one, a 2001 model with 38k miles on it for just $5.5k a couple years ago. Unlike the civic, it has no timing belt (has a chain which never has to be replaced) and has an ATF filter for additional reliability (never have to change ATF) and even uses a special spark plug that is good for 120,000 miles.

    For great reliability, great MPG, and most important, dirt cheap price, the Echo/Yaris makes so much more sense right now than a hybrid. According to Edmunds real world driving stats, the prius is only getting low to mid 40’s MPG (yea, I know there are lots of individual drivers getting better).

    My other concerns about the hybrid (and this may be unfounded – I don’t know) – how long do the batteries last? Do current owners even know? How much does it cost to replace them? How environmentally friendly are their disposal? With all the extra systems/parts how does the toal projected maintenance cost compare to traditional vechicles over the estimated life of the car? Are there enough competant mechanics that know how to work on these cars or do you have to take it to the dealership for service?

    As for “plug in” – these only make sense if you are one of the tiny minority that has access to renewable energy (solar panels, hydro, etc.) In generally electricity is the least efficient type of energy you could possibly use for a car. I hope people aren’t planning to buy these plug in cars and charge them using electric from coal fired power plants – that is just plain stupid (wasteful, expensive, inefficient, and bad for the environment).

  11. I bought a 2007 Camry Hybrid in 2006 I have
    over 40,000 mi. on it. It is a very good looking car, 4dr, seat 5 people easy, good trunk space, 10yr. 150,000 mi. warrenty, I get
    39mpg hyway 40mpg in town, I can walk away from most midsize cars from a stop, or on a hill. the electric motor has 199fptg. I enjoy driveing it very much. It has a 17.3 gal. tank
    I can go 636mi. on a tank. It is very good at the price of gas now.

  12. Most hybrid vehicles are extremely ugly.

  13. so u have to shell out an extra 2000 to get this ugly vehicle that gets better gas milage…or get a cooler one that fits ur wants and needs and spen about that in a year or two for gas…i dont see an advantage to buying these vehicles.

  14. The added efficency of a plug-in hybrid will provide a much larger incentive for people to purchase them. But how are we going to supply that electricity?


  1. Anonymous says:

    What’s Stopping People from Buying Hybrids?

    Despite the fact that hybrid sales have shot through the roof (relatively speaking) as gas prices have increased, and that there are more hybrid makes and models to choose from, there are still plenty of reasons why hybrid cars might not be for everyone.

  2. […] Daily Economy Fuel Tip surveys why people don‘t buy hybrids now. […]

  3. […] of my favorite sites, Daily Fuel Economy Tip, has a great article on What Stops People from Buying Hybrids. A few of the issues are listed […]

  4. […] Daily Economy Fuel Tip surveys why people don‘t buy hybrids now. […]

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