Despite the massive attention on electric vehicles and new tax credits for them, hybrid vehicles continue to be more popular among vehicle shoppers, according to the Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch report for the first quarter of 2023 released May 23. It continues a trend seen in the last quarter of 2022.
The Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch report is a consumer perception survey that also weaves in shopping behavior to determine how a brand or model stacks up with its segment competitors on a dozen factors key to a consumer’s buying decision. Kelley Blue Book produces the quarterly Brand Watch reports for non-luxury and luxury brands and assesses shopping for electrified vehicles – full EVs, hybrids, and alternative fuel vehicles.
Last year, the U.S. Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which allowed a $7,500 tax credit or a portion of that full tax credit on certain EVs and plug-in hybrids, depending on a consumer’s income and vehicle price. On April 18, even stricter rules regarding the domestic content of battery elements went into effect for tax credit eligibility, knocking some models out of contention.
Still, shopping patterns remained mostly the same. Consideration for electrified vehicles in total has remained constant since the fourth quarter of 2022 and is down only slightly from the spring of 2022 when gas prices surged.
About a quarter of all new-vehicle shoppers considered an electrified vehicle – 18% shopped for a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, and 9% considered a full EV. In addition, of the Top 10 most-shopped electrified vehicles in the first quarter of this year, eight were hybrids, and half of the hybrids were Toyota models.
Toyota Dominates Top 10 List of Most Shopped Electrified Vehicles
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid once again held the No. 1 spot of most-shopped electrified vehicles, a position it has owned since Kelley Blue Book started tracking electrified shopping. Also on the list were the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (No. 3), the redesigned Prius (No. 6), and Camry Hybrid (No. 7).
Honda and Ford each had two entries on the Top 10 list. The Honda CR-V Hybrid, also perennially near the top behind RAV4 Hybrid, ranked No. 2. The Honda Accord Hybrid was No. 5. The Ford Maverick, which comes standard as a hybrid with a gas-engine optional, moved up four positions to No. 4, and the Escape Hybrid returned to the list at No. 10.
Only two full EVs are on the Top 10 most-shopped list. The Tesla Model Y ranked first among shopping for full EVs and No. 8 among all electrified models. Despite significant price cuts, the Tesla Model 3 fell off the Top 10 list. Still, Tesla had a record quarter for sales.
The Chevrolet Bolt came in at No. 9 for shopping. GM announced during the quarter that the Bolt and Bolt EUV will be discontinued by year-end.