SURGING DEMAND for new hybrid cars is also being reflected in the used market, with the online car supermarket buyacar.co.uk reporting its highest ever proportion of hybrid customers.
But a gap is emerging between brands when it comes to the popularity of hybrid as a consumer choice over diesel or petrol, buyacar analysts say.
Hybrid cars remain a minority choice among customers on buyacar.co.uk but comparing sales this year to April 20th with the same period last year they have shot up by 27%.
And in terms of market share on buyacar.co.uk, hybrids have increased by 17%.
Sales of many car models where there is a choice of fuel types are now seeing the hybrid option dominate, but this appears to reflect individual brands' reputations as hybrid car makers, rather than the true availability of a hybrid choice.
For example, Toyota's Yaris hybrid outsells the petrol variant by three to one, doubtless due to the Toyota brand's longstanding heritage of hybrid cars which most famously began with the legendary Prius.
In contrast, when it comes to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, diesel still wins the hearts and minds of buyers with less than 5% choosing a hybrid. In the case of the Mercedes A-Class the hybrid share of sales falls to a negligible 1.3%, with diesel outselling petrol also by a factor of two to one.
The same goes for the Volkswagen Golf - where petrol proves most popular - and the BMW 3 Series, which continues to see diesel account for 76.4% of sales.
Car size does not appear to be a factor, as the Outlander, from outgoing brand Mitsubishi, sees hybrid accounting for 57% of sales this year.
No customers have opted for the Hyundai Ioniq petrol variant this year, with the hybrid accounting for 100% of sales.
Peter Gibney, Head of Commercial Operations at buyacar.co.uk, said: "With the clock ticking down toward the end of new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 and pure electric vehicles remaining an unknown quantity for many buyers in the used car market, it is perhaps no surprise to see hybrids suddenly gaining popularity.
"Because the hybrid variant typically costs more to buy, where there is a choice of fuel type, it seems unlikely that consumers are choosing them purely to save money on their motoring. But it seems plausible that choosing a hybrid is a tentative step toward the electric future and that's what we think is accelerating hybrid sales this year.
"The increase in choice, with new hybrid models introduced in the past couple of years now reaching the used market, is also doubtless having an impact.
"Plugin hybrids in particular represent a logical choice for anyone interested in moving towards electric as their next choice. Many models will cover a typical commute on electric power only, so they provide much of the experience of running an EV but without the range anxiety that remains the biggest block for most people contemplating going electric.
"There's still a long way to go for motorists to wean themselves off traditional fuels and this month hybrids still only represent around one in 20 sales, but every sign is that the corner is now being turned and hybrids are on the march."
*Article Source www.buyacar.co.uk