First Coast Embracing Hybrid Cars to Save Gas
|Jacksonville users up 38% in 1 year, auto tracker says By LARRY HANNAN, The Florida Times Union
Bill Learn has a simple explanation why he bought a four-seat 2008 metallic gray Toyota Camry Hybrid two weeks ago.
“It was the price of gas,” said Learn, who works for the American Red Cross in Jacksonville as a solutions manager. “I don’t see the cost of gas coming down anytime soon.”
He is not alone. Hybrid cars, which are quiet and fuel-efficient because of their mix of electrical power and internal combustion engines, are becoming the “must have” cars for people fed up with gas over $3.50 a gallon.
Northeast Florida drivers and businesses are increasingly looking to purchase hybrid cars, which get 40 to 50 miles per gallon. From 2006 to 2007, the number of people with hybrid cars in Jacksonville increased by 38 percent, from 939 to 1,300, according to R.L. Polk & Co., an auto information and marketing company.
During the same period, the number of hybrid cars in Florida increased by 49.5 percent, from 12,900 to 19,283.
In 2007 about 353,000 hybrids were sold in America, which is about 2.2 percent of all cars sold that year, said John Tews, spokesman for J.D. Power and Associates, a marketing research firm.
That number is expected to increase to about 422,000 in 2008, which would be about 2.6 percent of all the cars sold in America, Tews said.
Car dealerships in the region said the demand for hybrids is so great they can’t keep them in stock.
Esmond Donawa, new car director at Ernie Palmer Toyota on Cassat Avenue, said people have begun pre-ordering the hybrids before they even arrive.
People tell him the make and color hybrid they want, and the next time that model comes in it goes to the person who pre-ordered it, he said.
The demand for hybrids is higher than it’s ever been. They sell seven to 10 hybrids a month and have told Toyota to try to send them more because they’re selling so quickly, Donawa said.
Learn paid about $30,000 for his hybrid. While that is more than he wanted to pay for a car, he believes that in the long run he’ll save money by not having to buy gas as often.