At first, mainstream consumers in the 1990s were reluctant to consider hybrid automobiles as a viable option. There was some concern over the longevity of the technology and the cost effectiveness. Now consumers are beginning to understand the importance of hybrid vehicles and see the benefits of owning these eco-friendly cars.
The research firm Mintel conducted a study to determine the current popularity of hybrid vehicles. Mintel discovered that 2012 US sales of plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and electric cars have reached nearly 440,000 units, a growth of 73% since 2011. This accounts for only 3.3% of the US car market. Families are gravitating toward mid-size hybrids like the Chevrolet Malibu Ego and the Toyota Prius because they feel they can help the environment without sacrificing the quality and comfort.
Experts predict 2013 will yield even greater interest and increased sales. New models are down the road, including the Honda Accord Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Hybrid. In 2013, mid-size plug-in hybrids will also make their mainstream debut. The Ford Fusion Energi and Honda Accord Plug-in will make their debuts and automobile manufactures hope to generate interest in plug-in vehicles.
There are obstacles. Electric cars have a reputation to overcome. Studies have determined that 87% of shoppers are concerned about battery life and 86% are skeptical about the ability to find charging stations outside of their homes. 85% feel that the recharge time takes too long.
Mintel estimates that by 2017, electric cars and hybrids will account for 850,000 of automobile sales, which will total 5% of the auto market.