Hybrid vehicles are no longer the property of a few eco-minded drivers. Data from the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures indicates there are nearly 11.5 million alternative fuel vehicles in use in the United States. Sales data shows an unprecedented 1.5 million such vehicles were sold in 2006, surpassing industry expectations by 50 percent. In the second quarter of 2007, close to 490,000 alternative fuel vehicles were sold, an increase of 27 percent over the same period in 2006. From the first to second quarters of this year, hybrid sales were up 48 percent – from 74,056 to 109,716 vehicles.
Sixty models of alternative fuel vehicles are now on the market, including hybrid electric, ethanol-capable E-85, and clean diesel. A mere 12 models were available in 2000.
The main concern, according to the alliance, is the need to develop more sources of fuel for the ethanol and diesel vehicles. A recent alliance study shows that while more than 74 percent of American consumers are familiar with alternative fuel vehicles, they are concerned with the availability of fuels. Consumers want to protect the environment and protect the nation’s energy, the study found, and most consumers think the government needs to fund more research and development, as well as provide incentives to purchase alternative vehicles.