According to the Kelley Blue Book's “Blue Book Market Report for July 2012”, hybrid and alternative-energy vehicle sales jumped over 164% last month. This comes to defy the notion that when gasoline prices are down, alternative energy and fuel-efficient car sales go up. The contrary happened last month as gasoline prices went down, unlike past summer seasonal hikes.
Toyota Wins Big With Lexus. And who would make the most out of this situation? Toyota’s Lexus, and more to the point, its Lexus CT200h. Sales of the hybrid grew by nearly 500% year-over-year. Following closely is the Chevrolet Volt with sales improving over 200% year-over-year.
History Flashback. When we compare the numbers from 2011, those numbers point to a healthy increase in alternative fuel vehicles. Considering that by January 1st of 2011, 13,777 alternative energy vehicle sold when gasoline price was at $3.09, today’s numbers are not too shabby with 23,778 vehicles sold at an $3.54 for gasoline at the pump.
According to Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for the Kelley Blue Book, the reason for all of this is that: "The Toyota Prius was the most significant driver of segment gains, with sales surging more than 300 percent from June of last year. The Prius has been in high demand since the introduction of the subcompact Prius c and wagon-esque Prius v. Sales numbers for the Prius also look especially strong due to the inventory shortages that plagued Toyota at this time last year."
Dips And Highs. However, history does point to the fact that when gasoline price comes down, budgets are freed to acquire other more traditional vehicles. Indeed, when in June 2011 gasoline prices went down 13 cents to $3.68, 8,995 alternative energy vehicles were sold. Confirming the trend again, by October 2011 when gasoline price came down to $3.45 from 3.61, 15,462 fuel-efficient vehicles were sold. The following month, 20,039 were sold as gasoline went further down $3.38. Finally the biggest spike came this year when wild petroleum fluctuations gave us the following: In February 25,163 alternative energy vehicles were sold when gasoline was at $3.58. The following month that number jumped to 35,687 when the price at the pump surged to $3.85. April continued the trend with 29,799 vehicles sold at $3.90 a gallon.
Obviously, we are now dealing with more than the simple dynamic that when gasoline price goes up, people buy fuel-efficient cars. It would almost suggest that people are unnerved with the wild swing of petroleum prices and prefer to play it safe. In the meantime, we can only welcome a 164% jump in alternative energy vehicle price as gasoline prices are at a seasonal low level.