WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Green, or lack thereof, is the reason the future of "green" hybrid and electric automobiles looks so gray for the next decade.
According to a report from J.D. Power and Associates, global sales of hybrid cars and plug-in battery-powered cars are slated to reach 5.2 million in 2020. While that's more than five times the 954,500 such vehicles projected to be sold this year, it's only 7.9% of the 70.9 million vehicles J.D. Power believes will be sold a decade from now. That's a scant 5.1 percentage point increase in market share within a decade, and it's all tied to consumer sentiment.
Consumers complaints about hybrid and battery technology included performance and power issues (14%) and complaints that the Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) Prius, Honda (Stock Quote: HMC) Insight, Ford (Stock Quote: F) Focus and other hybrid vehicles were just too ugly (36%). Half of the problem, however, rests in car buyers' wallets; roughly 40% said that hybrid technology was just too expensive, with 10% finding a trip to the mechanic just as costly.
Even after a $7,500 federal tax credit, a 2011 Chevrolet Volt still won't leave the lot for less than $33,000. The all-electric Nissan (Stock Quote: NSANY) Leaf is slightly less expensive, but still costs more than $25,000 after the credit. By comparison, a midsized Nissan Altima is far less fuel efficient at a combined 27.5 miles per gallon, but starts at $20,000. Chevy's top-selling Malibu is similarly thirsty at 27.5 miles per gallon, but can be had for around $22,000 -- or $11,000 (almost an entire Chevy Aveo) less than the Volt.
"Many consumers say they are concerned about the environment, but when they find out how much a green vehicle is going to cost, their altruistic inclination declines considerably," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. "For example, among consumers in the U.S. who initially say they are interested in buying a hybrid vehicle, the number declines by some 50% when they learn of the extra $5,000, on average, it would cost to acquire the vehicle."