- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2006

CHICAGO (Agence France-Presse) — Sales of hybrid electric-gas vehicles in the United States should more than triple over the next seven years, a leading research firm reported earlier this week.

But even as sales of hybrids soar from approximately 212,000 vehicles in 2005 to a forecasted 780,000 in 2012, they will still make constitute only a tiny portion of the overall market, California-based J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Forecasting Services said.

It estimates that hybrids will account for only 4.2 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2012, compared with 1.3 percent of those sold in 2005.

The boom will result from a wider range of hybrids available to consumers with the number of models expected to grow from the 11 currently available in the U.S. market to 52 hybrid models in 2012, J.D. Powers said.

“When hybrids were first introduced in the United States, they were only available in sub-compact cars that were not practical for all vehicle buyers,” said Anthony Pratt, senior manager of global powertrain forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates.

“This trend changed with the introduction of the Ford Escape in late 2004 and we anticipate this trend will continue in the future,” he said. “By 2012, consumers will have the opportunity to purchase a hybrid vehicle in nearly all segments, including full-size pickups, minivans and luxury cars.”

The hybrid-electric vehicle market has grown from two models and fewer than 10,000 vehicles sold in 2000 to 11 models and an estimated 212,000 vehicles sold in 2005.

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