One of the main reasons people purchase hybrids and electric cars is to be economic, but low cost at the gas pump, puts a spin on the situationAmericans bought about 13,000 battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles in December – one of the best months on record for those kinds of cars and trucks.
But that’s only about four days worth of sales of the Ford Motor Co. F-Series pickup, underlining how difficult it is to convince drivers to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles when a gallon of gas at U.S. pumps costs considerably less than $2 (U.S.).
“This is arguably one of the biggest challenges the industry faces,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice-president of auto consulting firm LMC Automotive Ltd., of Troy, Mich.
There’s an electric or hybrid or fuel-cell vehicle on the stands of virtually every auto maker at the North American International Auto Show, which opened to the media in Detroit on Monday, and if they’re not on display, they’re on the drawing boards or coming to market later this decade.
Among the introductions and commitments made by auto makers on Monday was the appearance of the first hybrid minivan, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (Chrysler) offering that option on its redesigned people haulers. Luxury maker Audi AG said it would offer three new hybrid vehicles over the next three years and Toyota said it would offer a fuel cell-powered vehicle in its fleet by 2020.