A new study finds that only about a third of hybrid owners buy another hybrid.
Industry researcher R.L. Polk & Co. says hybrid nameplates have more than doubled since 2007, but just 35 percent of hybrid owners bought another hybrid when returning to the market in 2011.
If you factor out the high-loyalty Toyota Prius, hybrid loyalty drops to 25 percent. But a higher percentage of hybrid owners — 60 percent for Toyota , 52 percent for Honda — stayed within the brand when shopping for their next car.
Hybrids represent just 2.4 percent of the new-car market, down from 2.9 percent in 2008 when gas hit an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon. But Polk finds overall hybrid loyalty changed little as gas prices fluctuated between $2 and $4 from 2008 to 2011.
Interestingly, traditional eco-friendly markets such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Ore., stayed near the national average for hybrid loyalty, while unlikely places such as West Palm Beach, Fla., and Phoenix had the highest loyalty rates.
This story first appeared in USA Today.