Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Detroit Auto Show: Where are the Hybrids?

When I walked up to the Toyota display here at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit I was struck immediately by the automakers change of pace.

Hybrids are on the back burner.  Trucks in front center.

Toyota's turnaround reflects what all the automakers are feeling about hybrids.  They're important, but no more so than well designed internal combustion cars, trucks and SUV's.

So at this year's show, there are fewer gas electric models prominently displayed, less talk about the rush to build hybrids, and less fear that American's are running to ditch their gas guzzling trucks and SUV's.

Where Are the Hybrids?

Part of that is because oil prices at this year's show are around $56 a barrel. Last year they were over $70.

The other part of hybrid cool down is the realization that buyers are chaffing at paying a premium of $1,500 to $3,500 for a hybrid that gets 45 miles per gallon. After all, they could pay far less and get a gas sipping compact like the Nissan Versa which gets over 30 miles a gallon.

The hybrid hype has officially died down. It's ok to go back to the gas station to fill up your truck.

Questions?  Comments?

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