Hybrids flying out of Bay Area lots 

When it seems that every other car on the highway around you is a hybrid, it may be true.

More hybrids were sold in the Bay Area last year than in any other U.S. metropolitan area apart from Los Angeles, according to a recent study.

Of 1,000 Bay Area households, nearly five had a new hybrid in the garage last year, according to a study from Hybridcars.com and the Polk Center for Automotive Studies.

“California has been always been the most environmentally progressive state,” said Cynthia Harris, spokeswoman for AAA of Northern California. “And because we pay the highest gas prices in the nation, it’s just logical that Californians are looking for fuel alternatives.”

California led the nation last year with 39,830 new hybrid sales, followed by Florida, New York, Texas and Illinois, the study said.

Thus far, the Prius has been the most popular sell. Toyota sold 14,785 of the cars just last month, the study said. The Honda Civic hybrid had the second-most sales with 3,440.

Doug Donnellan, vice president and general manager of San Francisco Toyota, said the Prius model has been flying out of his Van Ness Avenue lot since the car went on the market four years ago. Although more than 100 new Priuses enter his dealership each month, Donnellan said his customers have had to wait on long lists before they can drive one home.

“When the Prius came out in 2004, we had a year-and-a-half waiting list — and that continued through most of 2007,” Donnellan said. “From mid-2007 until April this year, there were cars available. But past April, there’s been a waiting list again.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Hybrid hot spots

Metropolitan areas with largest number of new hybrid sales in 2007.

Los Angeles: 17,638
San Francisco: 11,155
New York: 10,419
Washington, D.C.: 5,828
Chicago: 4,862
Boston: 4,710
Seattle: 4,502
Phoenix: 4,187
Philadelphia: 4,113
Sacramento: 3,584

Source: Hybridcars.com, Polk Center for Automotive Studies

My story

“It’s no surprise because of [The Bay Area’s] high gas prices ... I’m sure car manufacturers foresaw the demand and are now capitalizing on it.” - Michael Verheyen, 51, San Francisco, manager of business administration

 

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