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Mr. Lacy predicts hybrids and electrics will double their market share to 8.5 percent by 2017, in part because there will be more options on the market. Last month, 35 hybrids and electrics were on sale, double the number from 2008.

The proliferation of models also will bring down costs. Hybrids cost around $2,000 to $4,000 more than their gas counterparts, which can make them less attractive to buyers. Automotive information site Edmunds.com estimates it takes 11 years’ worth of gas savings to recoup the $4,595 premium on the Honda Civic hybrid, or 5.2 years to make back the $3,400 premium on the Toyota Camry hybrid.

But those gaps are narrowing, said Jessica Caldwell, senior director of pricing and industry analysis for Edmunds.com. The price difference between the Camry and Camry hybrid has fallen by $800 since the hybrid was introduced.

Toyota Motor Co.’s Prius hybrid cars were the runaway best-sellers last month. They made up 57 percent of all hybrids and electrics sold. The Prius C, an entry-level hybrid that is 19 inches shorter and $5,000 cheaper than the regular Prius, sold nearly 4,900 in March, its first month on the market.

“The success of the Prius C shows there is a strong appetite for a cheap, fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle,” Ms. Caldwell said.

Mark Chasey, general manager of McEleney Toyota in Clinton, Iowa, said about half of the cars his dealership sells are hybrids. He could sell even more if they weren’t in such tight supply. Toyota currently has a 17-day supply of Priuses, far less than the optimal 60 days.