R. L. Polk & Co. Analysis Shows Hybrid Registrations Continue to Rise

Segment affinity among hybrid buyers revealed; West Coast remains leader

Apr 21, 2008, 01:00 ET from R. L. Polk & Co.

    SOUTHFIELD, Mich., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Nationwide registrations
 for new hybrid vehicles rose to 350,289 registrations in 2007 - a 38
 percent increase from 2006, according to R. L. Polk & Co. The Toyota Prius
 continued to lead the segment with 179,178 total new registrations - 51.2
 percent of hybrid market share.
     "Auto buyers are benefiting from new hybrid launches, and fleecing of
 old models that didn't work. There is a lot of excitement being generated
 within the industry as manufacturers adjust plans to adapt to consumer
 demand," said Lonnie Miller, director of Industry Analysis at Polk. "While
 the Toyota Prius has a stronghold on the midsize car hybrid segment, the
 Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape share leadership positions in the SUV
 hybrid segment. As hybrid buyers migrate within a brand, manufacturers have
 to be prepared to meet their expectations for offerings if they want
 consumers to remain loyal."
     While most of the market continues to see hybrid models enabled by
 various forms of gas-electric powertrains, the entire hybrid segment will
 evolve as other technologies are developed and tested. With the end-goal of
 providing more fuel-efficient vehicles, future offerings will expand beyond
 the current generation of hybrid models.
     "Hybrids are a great foray into the world of fuel-efficiency for many
 buyers," said Miller. "Unfortunately, we still have an uphill battle for
 diesel and ethanol adoption given the need for more consumer education and
 improvements with filling station infrastructure. It will be interesting to
 see how more advanced technologies progress this whole category, but they
 can't come soon enough."
     Segment Affinity
     Polk's analysis shows that buyers of specific hybrid models
 predominantly come from the vehicle segment shared by their new hybrid
 purchase. In 2007, 55 percent of new hybrid buyers previously had a midsize
 car, midsize SUV or small car model. These vehicle segments represent the
 majority of the volume in the hybrid category and indicate consumers may be
 predisposed to a body style first before choosing a hybrid model.
     "In cases such as the Lexus LS600h, more than half of these buyers came
 from the prestige luxury segment," said Miller. "In the case of Honda Civic
 hybrid buyers, nearly 30 percent already had a small car in their driveway.
 There's a strong relationship between the vehicle previously owned and the
 segment they may buy when selecting a hybrid."
     For manufacturers' marketing departments, these findings mean they may
 be able to repurpose some of the brand research and customer studies for
 non-hybrid models when creating new hybrid offerings or hybrid marketing
 campaigns. In addition, more luxury hybrids are available than ever before,
 allowing customers to obtain a hybrid without sacrificing features,
 amenities and performance they might otherwise be used to.
     Regional Dominance
     Geographic trends for the segment remain largely unchanged in 2007,
 with California continuing to hold 26 percent of hybrid market share
 followed by Florida, New York, Texas and Washington (Table 1). For the
 second year in a row, Oklahoma had the greatest increase, up nearly 148
 percent. Similarly, Los Angeles and San Francisco led cities nationwide
 combined with more than 19 percent of the segment's market share (Table 2).
     "The coasts continue to dominate the hybrid segment, though we continue
 to see gains in the Midwest as fuel prices hit home for the 'manufacturing
 belt' states," said Miller.
     About R. L. Polk & Co.
     R. L. Polk & Co. is the premier provider of automotive information and
 marketing solutions. Polk collects and interprets global data, and provides
 extensive automotive business expertise to help customers understand their
 market position, identify trends, build brand loyalty, conquest new
 business and gain a competitive advantage. Polk helps automotive
 manufacturers and dealers, automotive aftermarket companies, finance and
 insurance companies, advertising agencies, media companies, consulting
 organizations, government agencies and market research firms make good
 business decisions. A privately held global firm, Polk is based in
 Southfield, Mich. with operations in Australia, Canada, China, France,
 Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. For more
 information, please visit www.polk.com.
Table 1 - Top 10 Hybrid States (2007 Calendar Year) Rank State Total New Share of U.S. Volume Increase Hybrid Hybrid from Registrations Volume 2006 CY (%) 2007 CY 2007 CY (%) 1 California 91,417 26.1 35.4 2 Florida 19,283 5.5 49.5 3 New York 17,385 5.0 49.4 4 Texas 17,196 4.9 37.0 5 Washington 13,107 3.7 51.5 6 Illinois 13,094 3.7 37.9 7 Virginia 11,952 3.4 14.6 8 Pennsylvania 11,089 3.2 31.9 9 Massachusetts 9,982 2.8 35.5 10 New Jersey 9,645 2.8 36.1 Source: R. L. Polk & Co. U.S. New Hybrid Registrations, 2007 Calendar Year. Table 2 - Top 10 Hybrid Metro Markets (2007 Calendar Year) Rank Market (DMA(R)) Total New Share of U.S. Volume Increase Hybrid Hybrid from Registrations Volume 2006 CY (%) 2007 CY 2007 CY (%) 1 Los Angeles 40,634 11.6 31.1 2 San Francisco 27,292 7.8 32.3 3 New York 20,692 5.9 45.2 4 Washington D.C. 12,744 3.6 12.2 5 Seattle 11,098 3.2 53.2 6 Chicago 10,611 3.0 39.2 7 Boston 10,438 2.8 33.9 8 Philadelphia 8,670 2.5 26.4 9 Sacramento 7,871 2.2 59.9 10 Phoenix 7,829 2.2 85.4 Source: R. L. Polk & Co. U.S. New Hybrid Registrations, 2007 Calendar Year.

SOURCE R. L. Polk & Co.