Many drivers are betting that gas prices remain relatively low and are dropping their hybrids in increasing numbers, according to new numbers by Edmunds that were picked up by The New York Times.
Research shows that more than half—55 percent—of hybrid and elective vehicle owners are returning to gas-only models for their new purchases. That number represents the lowest loyalty for gas-sippers since information was first tracked four years ago. With gas prices lower, it’s taking much longer for owners of generally more expensive hybrids and electrics to earn back their investments with pump savings.
Many of those switching to gas vehicles are snatching up SUVs, which were shunned only a few years ago. “More than one in five are switching to a conventional sport utility vehicle, nearly double the rate of three years ago,” the Times reports, though noting that SUVs and trucks are much more fuel-efficient than during the big-car craze of a decade ago.
As you’d expect, electric and hybrid vehicles aren’t doing so hot. Industry leader Toyota has seen its Prius sales drop 11.5 percent from last year. Meanwhile, sales of Chevy’s plug-in Volt tumbled 19 percent in 2014. Toyota and General Motors, which owns Chevy, are standing by their fuel- and emissions-efficient cars, saying gas prices are unstable and their cars are only getting better. Case in point, next year’s Volt will be able to travel further and carry more people. It will also be about $1,200 cheaper than last year’s model, though still $33,995.