Hybrids wane, diesels gain as buyers weigh real-world mpg

Hybrids wane, diesels gain as buyers weigh real-world mpg

Kevin Massy

The Mercedes E320 Bluetec is one of several clean diesel cars coming to America CNET Networks

Barely a week after it was announced that a California man is suing Honda for the worse-than-advertised fuel economy of his Civic Hybrid, an independent study has found that he is not alone in his disillusionment.

Results from this week's J.D. Power and Associates' second annual Alternative Powertrain Study show that the number of customers considering buying a hybrid has declined over the past year, partly due to a realization of the actual mileage that hybrid cars are likely to achieve. Of the 4,000 participants surveyed, 50 percent said they were considering a hybrid compared with 57 percent in 2006. J.D. Power also attributes the drop in hybrid interest to an increase in the number of clean diesel vehicles; the study found that the number of new car buyers considering a diesel had nearly doubled over the past year.

With fleets of new diesel cars bound for the U.S. over the next few years and the demiseof some hybrid models, is this the beginning of a gear-change in the alternative-fuel economy?