Hybrids are still niche vehicles, but at their current rate of growth, they could dominate the roads in another five or 10 years.
U.S. hybrid sales jumped more than 34 percent to a total of 338,851 in 2007, according to CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore. The only other vehicle segment that grew faster than hybrids in 2007 was what CNW calls "budget cars." Sales of these small, inexpensive models, which include the Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris, grew at an astonishing rate of nearly 48 percent.
With rising gas prices and higher fuel economy standards mandated by the federal government, analysts expect hybrid technology to proliferate in the coming years. "You're going to see wider availability of hybrid powertrains as options on more and more vehicles," says David Wurster, president of the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based market research firm Vincentric. "I don't think they're going to be the 'unique' vehicles for much longer because it's going to become commonplace technology."