The Bush Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy may have thrown their weight behind the technically challenging, and distant likelihood of a ‘Hydrogen Economy’ of fuel cell cars, but the current transportation market has gone in another, simpler direction on its own. With registrations up 25.8 percent in 2003, hybrid-electric vehicles appear here to stay, and are likely to represent an increasing percentage of cars on U.S. roads.Southfield, Michigan – May 7, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Nationwide registrations for hybrid vehicles rose to 43,435 in 2003 according to R. L. Polk & Co. The Honda Civic hybrid accounted for 50 percent of all registrations with a total of 21,750. Toyota Prius reached 20,387 registrations amounting to 47 percent of the market share. Honda Insight accounted for the remaining three percent, with 1,298 total registrations. “People are buying hybrids because of mileage benefits and environmental concerns. With the rising cost of gas in the U.S., hybrid registrations will likely increase in 2004,” said Lonnie Miller, director of Polk’s Analytical Solutions. “Hybrid technology allows for much improved mileage and lower emissions while maintaining the functionality and convenience of gasoline-powered vehicles. It is a smart technology that is accessible and easy to produce.” There are a number of new hybrid vehicles planned for the coming year from several manufacturers including hybrid versions of the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram Pickup, Ford Escape, Honda Accord, Lexus RX 400 and the Toyota Highlander. These new hybrid offerings will expand the market and appeal of hybrid vehicles to a larger consumer base. More new hybrid vehicles are being planned beyond 2005 which will continue the growth of this new technology and market. Total U.S. hybrid vehicle registrations saw a 25.8 percent increase compared with 2002. Since the introduction of hybrid vehicles in model year 2000, hybrid vehicle sales have increased over 570 percent with a compound annual growth rate of 88.6 percent. During calendar year 2003, California and Virginia retained their number one and two positions with 11,425 and 3,376 hybrid registrations respectively. Florida rose to third place with 1,996 registrations, followed by Washington with 1,972 registrations. Rounding out the top five was Maryland with 1,851 registrations (see Table 4). Los Angeles was the number one market for hybrid registrations, with 4,701. Washington, D.C. and San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Calif. took second and third places, with 4,024 and 3,813 respectively. Rounding out the top five markets were New York City and Seattle/Tacoma, Wash., with 1,768 and 1,700 registrations respectively. Hybrid Owner Characteristics “Hybrid buyers have some important differences when compared to buyers of gasoline engine vehicles,” Miller said. “They are slightly older on average, and their average income is higher. We’re also seeing hybrid vehicles drawing more interest from women, on average, than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.” According to Polk’s motor vehicle registration database, women account for 38.8 percent of all hybrid registrations. Women account for 36 percent of gasoline engine vehicle registrations. The average age of a hybrid vehicle buyer is 49.6 years, compared to an average age of 47.6 years for buyers of gasoline engine vehicles. The average income of hybrid vehicle buyers is $78,350, compared with average income of $71,576 for gasoline engine vehicles.