IRVINE, CA - According to Kelley Blue Book's "Blue Book Market Report for September 2010," today may be a great time to buy a hybrid -- as long as your principal motivation is to reduce emissions and greenhouse gases, rather than to save money at the pump.
During the past year, hybrid values have not kept pace with the appreciation of comparable segments or the overall marketplace, KBB said. This has created the opportunity to buy a hybrid vehicle at a substantial savings compared to last year or even earlier this year. In fact, Kelley Blue Book has seen monthly traffic for used hybrid vehicles increase 10 to 20 percent, perhaps signaling that shoppers are starting to take advantage of relatively low hybrid values.
Historically, hybrid value retention has kept pace with the overall market and handily outperformed values for compact cars. Today, Kelley Blue Book is seeing values for hybrid vehicles drop off, underperforming the overall market and shedding the premium over non-hybrid compact alternatives. Furthermore, new sales of hybrids have suffered, down 40 percent year-over-year in August, although it should be noted that hybrid sales were especially robust at this time last year because of the Cash-for-Clunkers program.
Steady gas prices have been the main factor contributing to the lack of demand for hybrid vehicles. Additionally, technological improvements have helped put the fuel economy of some new gasoline-powered vehicles on par with many existing hybrids, KBB said. For example, the new Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze are both expected to get as good as 40 miles per gallon on the highway, which is comparable to many hybrids. While the overall cost of ownership may still be relatively high for a hybrid today, for those consumers more concerned with environmental protection than dollars saved at the pump, now is the time to take advantage of this segment, KBB concluded.
"If shoppers are convinced to buy a hybrid today, they should keep in mind that it can take upwards of 10 years to recover the premium paid for a hybrid versus a comparable non-hybrid alternative (based on $3 per gallon fuel prices and 12,000 miles driven per year)," said Juan Flores, director of vehicle valuations for Kelley Blue Book. "For those consumers considering a hybrid purchase purely to save money, they must consider how long they intend to hold the vehicle."