Hybrid Car Sales Zooming; As Usual, Ford, GM, etc. Left in Parking Lot

Now that $4+ gas is a reality, sales of hybrid cars are zooming. Of course, that’s no help to Ford (F), General Motors (GM), et al, which, as usual, have been caught making millions of land yachts no one wants. And of course they’re compounding the error by refusing to take back products that unhappy customers desperately want to unload. (LA Times):

Although hybrid cars account for only about 3% of U.S. car sales, their share is growing rapidly. Sales of hybrid cars surged 25% during the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year. And the pace accelerated last month, when sales jumped 58%. That outpaced the overall April sales gain of 18% for small fuel-efficient cars and comes as total new-vehicle sales are slumping.

And with increased demand comes a higher premium on the in vogue cars:

The shortage is pushing up prices. A month ago, Priuses were selling for an average of $25,147, slightly below the sticker price. Today, some dealers are slapping $3,000 premiums on the car — pushing prices well over $28,000, according to Jesse Toprak, Edmunds’ head of industry analysis.

Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) are currently reaping most of the benefits and another Japanese car company, Nissan (NSANY), is predicting production of an electric car by 2010.

Meanwhile, American car companies are caught flat-footed with Hummers and Escalades (see: GM). Their solution: stop taking SUV trade-ins.

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