Rising fuel prices are persuading more Australians to switch to hybrid models to save money, a move that has been helped along by Toyota lowering the pricing on its Camry and Prius hybrid models.
These factors are also encouraging more private buyers to swap to hybrid models, with sales to private buyers going up by 84% in June, almost double the increase in sales to the fleet market, traditionally bigger hybrid buyers.
In 2011 there were 8,820 hybrid cars were sold in Australia, with only 2,212 of these going to private buyers. Toyota have sold over 4 million hybrid models globally (including the Lexus brand) and Australia has over 40,000 Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles on the road.
Apart from the fuel savings, private buyers are becoming aware of how reliable they are and also eyeing off incentives offered by the government and car insurers: owners in Victoria get $100 off their registration for a hybrid model and both the RAC in WA and the NRMA offer discounts on insurance policies for green vehicles. To qualify the RAC are looking for emissions of less than 150g of CO2 per km (and say that 360 models currently meet this standard) and the NRMA give a discount for cars with consumption of less than 5.5l/100km.
And manufacturers are rushing in to satisfy demand – Toyota, Honda, Lexus and BMW now all have hybrid choices, with Holden and Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti planning new green models very soon.
It’s taken a while for the hybrid idea to take off – Honda introduced the first hybrid, the Insight, back in 2001 – but it certainly seems to be on its way now.