Hybrid's Next Step is Good PR

Carmakers focus on teaching buyers about technology

Published: 11-Jan-2005

DETROIT - For hybrid vehicles at this year's North American International Auto Show, the "wow" factor is over.

Nine years after Toyota introduced the first gas-electric hybrid, automakers expect to sell 200,000 hybrid vehicles this year in the United States, according to Anthony Pratt, an analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.

Since 2000, hybrid sales in the United States have grown at an average annual rate of 88.6 percent, according to Michigan-based R.L. Polk & Co. But to keep posting those kinds of gains, automakers will to keep improving hybrid engines and keep hybrid prices down. Hybrids currently cost around $3,000 to $4,000 more than regular gas versions.

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