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State tops off list for hybrid growth
Milton Martin Honda salesman Isaac Hernandez walks past a selection of new Honda hybrid cars.

Hybrid vehicle growth

These states have the fastest growth of all hybrid passenger vehicles from 2012 to 2013:

1. Georgia: 54.32 %
2. Oklahoma: 47.38 %
3. Michigan: 35.70 %
4. Illinois: 33.82 %
5. Alabama: 30.14 %
6. South Carolina: 27.67 %
7. California: 27.40 %
8. Missouri: 27.26 %
9. Hawaii: 26.77 %
10. Arizona: 26.32 %

Source: Diesel Technology Forum

Georgia is a hot state for hybrids.

In a study released last week by Diesel Technology Forum, Georgia ranks No. 1 among states nationwide in fastest growth of all hybrid passenger vehicles in 2012-2013.

“Largely, (people’s) choice of vehicles and choice of fuel are associated with tax incentives, and, in Georgia, the incentives are very limited, so that shows there’s a genuine interest, which is good,” said Butch Miller, general manager and vice president of Milton Martin Honda in Gainesville.

Diesel Technology Forum’s analysis is based on data that includes the registration statistics of all passenger vehicles compiled by R.L. Polk and Co. in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through Dec. 31.

The study covers both hybrid vehicles, which run on gas and electricity, and clean-diesel vehicles.

In other results, Georgia ranked No. 10 among states having the most hybrid passenger vehicles, or 76,168, registered in 2013. California had the most, with 698,560.

But then California is the most populated state in the country, with 38 million people. Georgia, with nearly 10 million people, is the ninth most populated state.

Still, hybrids aren’t rolling off car lots like bread off grocery shelves, according to area dealerships.

“We’re not selling as many as we thought we would,” said William Ferguson, general sales manager at Greene Ford in Gainesville.

For some, the higher price tags that hybrids carry “outweigh the benefits” of owning such a car, he said.

Stephen McDonald, Internet sales manager at Hayes Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Oakwood, said he believes interest in hybrids has dropped over the years.

“Like with anything else, they’re no longer shiny and new,” he said. “It’s kind of gotten out of the spotlight.”

Also, people are getting used to higher gas prices, which helped kick-start the move toward the more fuel-efficient hybrid market, McDonald said.

Miller said standard-fuel cars getting better gas mileage also played a key role in hybrid sales.

“That’s forcing hybrids to raise the bar again,” he said.

Georgia also ranks No. 9 among total diesel passenger vehicles registered in 2013, with 189,018. Again, more populated states such as California, Texas and Florida top that list.

“Consumers have an ever-growing number of choices for more fuel-efficient vehicles, and this analysis shows that clean diesels are gaining in popularity all across the nation,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

Diesel car registrations are up 30 percent since 2010 while the overall market only increased 3.6 percent.

In 2013, diesel registrations increased by 410,040 nationally, and hybrids increased by 531,385. The analysis also showed while overall diesel sales were up 30 percent in the 2010-2013 period, hybrid sales increased by 64.5 percent.

“We fully expected that hybrids would outpace diesel sales based on the number of choices available to consumers during this time frame,” Schaeffer said.

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