Hybrid Car Sales Spike as Gas Prices Soar

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    With gas prices creeping close to $4 a gallon, you wouldn't expect to see a car salesman smiling.

    But Chris Tedesco's grin seemed to grow wider with each question about the cash we are pouring into our fuel tanks.

    Tedesco is selling the gas-stingy Toyota Prius.  The hybrid vehicle averages about 50 miles a gallon and its popularity grows with each penny added to the cost of gas.

    "Our Prius sales have doubled the last two months," said the sales manager of Toyota of Huntington.

    "In times like these, the Prius sells itself," Tedesco added.

    Sales numbers seem to bear that out. 

    The number of Toyota Prius hybrids sold nationwide in February increased by some 70 percent, according to USA Today.  Sales of the Honda Civic hybrid jumped close to 54 percent.

    In addition, at Toyota of Huntington and other dealerships, consumer internet inquiries about hybrids have also doubled. 

    "Whenever gas prices go up, people get worried," said Tedesco.  "We have people coming in, getting 10 miles a gallon with their SUV and they have had enough."

    Four of five drivers surveyed by Kelly Blue Book said gas prices will impact the kind of car they buy.

    With hybrids growing popularity, however, comes a caveat from one Wantagh sales manager: these vehicles may not be for everyone.

    "You really have to consider how far you're driving, what's the price of gas, how much more is the hybrid going to cost me," said Lou Evans, sales manager of Hassett Ford/Lincoln/Subaru.

    Hybrids typically cost more than gas-powered cars and at Evans' urging, interested drivers will sit down and do the math to determine if such a purchase will indeed save money.

    The numbers don't always add up, Evans said. But, that could change if gas prices continue to push drivers to the limits of their patience and pocketbooks.