Study: EVs Get the Headlines, but More Americans Shop for Hybrids

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime in a two-tone color schemeElectric vehicles (EVs) are in the news everywhere you look. But twice as many car shoppers consider buying a hybrid. And a much-hyped revamp of federal EV tax credits did almost nothing to change demand for EVs.

Those conclusions come from Kelley Blue Book’s first-quarter Brand Watch report for electrified vehicles.

Our 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. We publish separate reports for the non-luxury and luxury car markets.

Toyota won a closer look from more of the car-buying public than any other non-luxury brand last quarter. BMW continued its dominance of the luxury market.

Hybrids Get Twice the Attention of EVs

About a quarter of all new-car shoppers considered an electrified vehicle – an industry term encompassing hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs – last quarter. Eighteen percent researched a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Plug-in hybrids are hybrids that can travel a certain distance (usually around 30 miles) on electric power alone before using gasoline.

Half that total, just 9%, looked at an EV.

Tax Credit Changes Didn’t Affect EV Demand

Federal EV tax credit rules were looser in the first quarter. Looser rules allowed many EVs to qualify for a tax rebate of up to $7,500 starting Jan. 1. The rules tightened, eliminating many cars, in April. That made the first quarter the best time for most Americans to qualify.

It made little difference. Consideration for EVs remained nearly constant from the fourth quarter of 2022.

Toyota the Big Winner

But the dominance of hybrids, and Toyota’s hybrid-centric lineup, is the big story of the study. Four of the electrified models in the top 10 that got a close look from the most shoppers were Toyota hybrids. The first electric vehicle doesn’t show up until the eighth position.

Chevrolet’s Bolt EV remains in the top 10 most-considered electrified models even after the company announced that it will cease building the car this year.

The Top 10 Most Considered Electrified Vehicles


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