Hybrid Cars Not the Answer, Say Online Auto Consumers - CarGurus.com

Consumers speak their opinion on CarGurus.com - want better gas mileage, but majority not willing to buy hybrid cars.

Cambridge, MA, April 16, 2007 - CarGurus.com, a leading online automotive community, today announced the results of a survey of more than 500 online automotive consumers. Between February and March, 2007, visitors to www.cargurus.com were asked if their next car would be a hybrid. The majority of respondents - 80% - said their next car would not be a hybrid.

While these survey results measure consumer purchase intent, market data indicates that when it comes time to actually buying a car, the number of consumers purchasing hybrids is even lower. According to nationwide auto registration data recently compiled by R.L. Polk & Co., overall, the hybrid category in 2006 reflected just over 1.5 percent of all new vehicle registrations in the U.S.

Is Performance an Issue for Hybrids?

What could be some of the reasons holding consumers back from buying hybrids? As seen in CarGurus' previous online survey (January 2007), consumers are quite concerned about gas mileage but are equally focused on performance. The top two reasons consumers cited in this January survey for buying their next car (tied for first place) were better gas mileage but also better performance. Hybrid cars do deliver better gas mileage (the 2007 Toyota Prius gets 55 miles per gallon), but are not really known for their performance characteristics (the 2007 Prius delivers a 0 to 60 mph time of 10 seconds).

A number of car manufacturers, however, are working on hybrid performance cars. Lexus produces the GS 450h, which has a 340-horsepower engine, 0-60mph time of 5.2 seconds, and gas mileage of over 26 miles per gallon. Compared to an equivalent BMW 5 series car, the 450h gets 23% better gas mileage at about the same level of performance.

Alternatives to Hybrids

Besides these newer performance-focused hybrids, there are other alternatives for consumers looking for better mileage and performance. Pure electric cars are being developed by companies such as Tesla Motors that get the equivalent of over 135 miles per gallon with the performance of an exotic sports car (0-60 mph in 4 seconds). That's 2.5 times better mileage and 60% better acceleration than a Toyota Prius.

"Automotive consumers want it all - performance and fuel efficiency - and are clearly not willing to make the tradeoff that's inherent with hybrids," said Simon Rothman, former worldwide VP of eBay Motors and board member at Tesla Motors and CarGurus LLC. "The current generation of hybrids may deliver relatively better gas mileage, but don't deliver on performance and can't justify their more expensive price tags. Electric cars make a lot more sense in terms of mileage, performance, and cost, as well as being a safer alternative for the environment."

"In our January survey, consumers told us they wanted both better gas mileage and performance in their next car purchase. This month's survey shows that the overwhelming majority of online automotive consumers feel that hybrid cars are not a viable purchase option," said Langley Steinert, founder and CEO of CarGurus. "One can assume that the lack of performance in today's hybrids is what is holding consumers back. Going forward consumers are going to push manufacturers to build cars that deliver on both of these product dimensions."

Survey Methodology

From February to March, 2007, CarGurus ran an online survey on its site, www.cargurus.com. 505 respondents completed the survey and were asked whether their next car would be a hybrid and asked to vote Yes or No.

Survey Results

Question: Will your next car be a hybrid?
Answer: No - 405 (80.0%)
Answer: Yes - 100 (20.0%)

About CarGurus LLC

Located in Harvard Square, Cambridge MA, CarGurus LLC is an online automotive community founded by Langley Steinert, formerly Chairman and co-founder TripAdvisor LLC. CarGurus' founders, board, and investors bring a wealth of experience from such leading web companies as TripAdvisor, eBay, Expedia, and Yahoo. For more information about CarGurus visit us at www.cargurus.com.

Amy Mueller