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by Tim Beissmann

Sales of hybrid vehicles to private consumers in the US are headed for their third consecutive annual decline, according to a Bloomberg report that says public demand is fading for the green machines.

Almost one quarter of all hybrid vehicles sold since President Barack Obama’s election have been US Government purchases.

J.D. Power & Associates director of forecasting, Jeff Schuster, said the technology had failed to win widespread acceptance after more than a decade in the market.

“At some point, the reality is that for this technology to be accepted, it needs to be done without a government crutch,” Mr Schuster said.

“But without a huge gas price increase or further government demand, the natural demand just isn’t going to be there.”

The premium price of hybrid vehicles is the major limiting factor, with most vehicles still a long way off being cost-competitive in the US market.

The government purchased around 64 percent of all Chevrolet Malibu hybrids produced before the model was discontinued due to a lack of public demand.

Around 29 percent of all Ford Fusion hybrids and 14 percent of Escape hybrids manufactured under President Obama have been also been purchased by the government.

But a government spokesperson said its high rate of investment in hybrid vehicles did not demonstrate a lack of demand from the public, but rather emphasised the responsibility of the government in taking the lead in driving the market towards cleaner motoring technologies.

President Obama has also thrown enormous support behind plug-in technology, promising more than $US11 billion (AU$11.4 billion) in funding as he plans for one million plug-in hybrids to be on the road within five years.

The US Government currently offers subsidies of up to $US7500 (AU$7800) for private purchases of plug-in vehicles, while around 10 states offer extra incentives to consumers.




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