2007 hybrid boom hits Midwest, not isles
Hawaii was the only state to sit out the boom in sales of new hybrid vehicles in the first seven months of this year, an auto information and marketing company said yesterday -- an anomaly local auto dealer executives attribute in part to early adoption here.
Southfield, Mich.-based R.L. Polk & Co. said yesterday that U.S. sales of hybrids were up 49 percent in the first seven months of this year, due largely to a boom in sales in the Midwest. Hawaii was the only state to report a decline.
Polk said Americans registered 215,997 new hybrid vehicles in the 2007 period, compared with 144,721 in the same period of 2006.
Wes Kimura, vice president of Hawaii Toyota retailer Servco Automotive, said high gas prices in Hawaii led consumers to turn to hybrids sooner.
"The growth of hybrid sales on the mainland shows that they are only now catching up with the demand experienced in Hawaii," Kimura said. "The demand remains very strong for our Prius as well as our Camry Hybrid, with both being in very short supply."
And Maui Toyota Scion is showing a year-on-year increase in hybrid sales, according to General Manager D.J. Farias. "We pretty much sell them as soon as we get them," he said.
However, Hawaii's overall car sales have fallen by 11.9 percent as compared to the first seven months of 2006, said David Rolf, executive director for the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.
The Polk study found that hybrid sales were up 57 percent in the Midwest, the most of any region. Hybrid sales rose 52 percent in the West, 49 percent in the Northeast and 42 percent in the South.
Star-Bulletin reporter Allison Schaefers and the Associated Press contributed to this report