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Published: May 26, 2023 4 min read
photo collage illustration of a man deciding on buying an EV or a hybrid
Rangely Garcia/Money; Getty Images

Electric vehicles may get all the attention, but American drivers actually still favor hybrid cars, which sell in higher numbers.

Car buyers today are about twice as likely to consider hybrids compared to fully electric vehicles (EVs), according to a new Kelley Blue Book survey.

There are two main categories of hybrids: 1) Conventional hybrids, which have an electric motor that supplements a gas engine to get superior mileage; and 2) Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), which have gas engines but also (appropriately) plug in to charge and can travel about 30 miles without using any fuel.

Combining these two classifications, 18% of people are considering hybrids when they shop for a new car, according to the survey. Meanwhile, only about 9% of car shoppers are looking to buy EVs.

EVs vs. hybrids: Why buyers prefer hybrids

In the next decade, electric vehicles could come to represent a dominant share of the auto market. Seven states have announced plans to ban sales of new gas-powered cars after 2035, and brands like General Motors intend to be all electric by that time.

But in the current car buying environment, many drivers aren't ready to make the switch to fully electric vehicles, which usually require charging after a couple hundred miles. That can be off-putting for some buyers, considering that the country's charging infrastructure is still being developed and charging generally takes significantly longer than filling up a tank with gas.

Hybrids tend to be cheaper than EVs. In April, the average price of a hybrid/alternative energy car was $40,123, which compares to an average price of $55,089 for EVs, according to Cox Automotive.

Though the availability of EV models is improving and dozens of new EV model launches are planned in the next two years, there are more hybrid models right now. For now, hybrids boast bigger sales totals too. Cox Automotive reported that last year about 245,000 hybrids sold in the second quarter, while EV sales were just under 200,000.

EVs are in the spotlight because they make up a fast-growing segment of the car market and appear to be the future of the auto market. But hybrid versions of classic vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V are more widely considered by shoppers than even Tesla’s Model Y, the top-selling electric vehicle.

The RAV4 was the fourth best-selling car in the U.S. last year and Toyota reported about 400,000 RAV4 sales in 2022, more than 168,000 of which were hybrids. According to Kelley Blue Book, 231,400 Tesla Model Ys were sold in 2022.

10 popular hybrids and EVs

Impressively, Toyota produces four models that are among the top 10 most considered hybrid and electric vehicles, according to Kelley Blue Book:

  1. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  2. Honda CR-V Hybrid
  3. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
  4. Ford Maverick Hybrid
  5. Honda Accord Hybrid
  6. Toyota Prius
  7. Toyota Camry Hybrid
  8. Tesla Model Y
  9. Chevrolet Bolt EV
  10. Ford Escape Hybrid

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