All eyes were on the automotive industry this week, particularly when the Big Three CEOs made their trip down to Washington – in their hybrid vehicles. According to Cone’s 2008 Green Gap survey, 71 percent of people consider the impact of the environment when buying a car. It should not be surprising, then, that hybrid sales have dramatically increased over the past few years. The introduction of the Toyota Prius, for example, left people waiting for up to a year to purchase. When celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio were proudly driving around in them, it seemed like everyone wanted one. More and more models were rolled out for consumers to choose from. And, as gas prices climbed up to $4, people aggressively sought out more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The recent decline in the overall economy, however, has left many people deciding to hold off on car purchases altogether. Additionally, the recent drop in gas prices no longer presents the “urgency” once felt for fuel-efficiency and, ultimately, cost savings. Does this spell the end of the hybrid boom? Well, the good news is that while total vehicle sales plummeted in 2008 (down 15 percent in January through October,) hybrids were only down 3 percent. Hybrids’ market share continues to climb.
As the Big Three CEOs present their plans to Washington, they will certainly talk about sustainability and fuel efficiency. Let’s hope that they are authentic, because not only are these plans better for the environment, but they are what consumers are looking for.
- Dena Pizzutti, Former Senior Account Executive