Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sales of Hybrid Cars Free-Fall

It's no secret that the recession has taken its toll on car sales across the country. Consumers are not buying much of anything these days, especially new cars. But the Los Angeles Times reports that hybrids are a conspicuous blight on this grim landscape.

Just last summer you couldn't lay your hands on a Prius. Charging a premium for hybdrids has become standard practice, and when gas was touching $5 a gallon, people were lining up to buy them. Now, however, with gas back around $2 and the economy swooning, you can't give hybrids away.

According the Times, Toyota could barely maintain a 2 day national supply of Prius's last summer; currently there is an 80 day supply.

In a way, hybrids sales are a microcosm of the larger problem facing the Obama Administration as it tries to jam its energy agenda down the country's throat. The Times notes:

"In January, President Obama called on the industry to "thrive by building the cars of tomorrow" and prepare for federal and state regulations that could push average fuel economy above 40 miles per gallon by 2020."

At best, this seems like an ill-timed mandate; at worst it makes the new President look hopelessly out of touch with what is going on in the real world. With the auto industry reeling, urging companies to make more of a product they can't sell doesn't make business sense.