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Hybrid Cars in Slow Lane on LI

Many car-makers offer hybrids but are people buying them?

Hybrids are all the rage in the media but are people buying into the hype of the hybrid?

Not according to one Long Island dealer. While customers are very concerned about fuel efficiency, many aren’t buying into the hybrid vehicle trend just yet.

“What I have found is people don’t go for hybrid vehicles,” said Wayne Rampone Jr., vice president of Ramp Ford in Port Jefferson Station.

On Motor Trend’s website is a list of car reviews the auto magazine has conducted from car-makers like Ford, Chevy, Honda and Volkswagen who you’d pretty much expect to offer models of hybrid vehicles.

But did you know that Ferrari makes a hybrid car? Porsche also has a prototype hybrid: A 918 Spyder.

(Surprisingly, the "Mixte” was the world’s first hybrid vehicle built by Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of Porsche, back in in 1902, according to J.D. Power’s website.)

This list of companies rolling out hybrid technology in autos is as long as the list of auto manufacturers itself; in other words everyone. This trend seems to show a strong buy-in by the auto industry. But, is the hybrid car as big a seller as the media implies?

According to hybridcars.com, the share of auto sales from hybrid cars was about 3 percent of the total marketplace in February 2013 or about 40,000 vehicles sold. That’s slightly higher than 2012 when in Feb. the site reported sales of hybrids peaked at around 36,000.

According to Rampone, his customers want smaller cars that get great gas mileage but haven’t been able to recapture the cost of a hybrid when compared to other fuel-efficient cars.

“A lot of people don’t realize you pay thousands of dollar more,” he said. “On Long Island people lease and there isn’t enough time to realize the savings.”

John Feinberg, a car enthusiast from Mount Sinai, said he opted for a Subaru Impreza instead of a hybrid last November when he went looking for a new car. He estimates that he gets about 30 MPG.

He picked the car because it fit his lifestyle. As a student, volunteer first responder and with a job to get to he puts in a lot of driving and All Wheel Drive was a big draw since he needed something that could get him where he needs to go in all kinds of weather.

David Tesser said he had a bad experience with his hybrid. After he bought his car from a Honda dealer in Riverhead he was ”shocked on how bad the gas mileage is.”

“I also had to have them replace the battery since it wasn’t working properly,” he said.

Feinberg, who also writes about cars on his blog called The Checkered Flag, wasn’t ready to jump into a hybrid vehicle just yet.

“I don't feel hybrid technology is where it should be right now,” he said.

Did you buy a hybrid vehicle or are you considering one? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Raymond Collins April 01, 2013 at 01:05 PM
If you want economy, there are cheaper non-hybrid cars with better gas mileage. If you want to save the environment, there are cheaper cars with better gas mileage that pollute the world less while being produced. If you want fun and economy, there are cheaper, lighter, faster cars with better gas mileage available. I, for the life of me, can't see the niche hybrids fill, besides being able to use the HOV lane with only one person (and holding everyone up behind you).

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