It's not easy being green: Hybrid car sales drop with gas prices

The cars of tomorrow aren't selling so well today.

Sales of hybrid cars, which run on electricity and gasoline, have collapsed as gas prices have dropped to about $2 a gallon, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

As part of a plan to sex up their image with consumers and the federal government, American automakers promised more hybrids while asking the government for bailout money.

President Obama called on the auto industry to "thrive by building the cars of tomorrow" and prepare for regulations that could push average fuel economy above 40 miles per gallon by 2020.

But Americans aren't buying, at least not as long as gas prices remain low. Hybrid sales peaked in April 2008, when gas averaged $3.57 a gallon, but dropped almost two-thirds last month to 15,144 hybrids sold nationwide, according to the Times story. That's barely better than in January, when hybrid sales were at their lowest since early 2005.

Remember when U.S. Toyota dealers used to have waiting lists for Priuses, and they cost thousands more than the sticker price? No more. Toyota dealers across the country have 80 days' worth on hand and are offering $500 factory rebates.

Maybe the best way to end the recession and get people buying cars again, or at least buying hybrid cars, is to triple the price of gas. It won't make oil-rich countries happy, but Detroit would be rolling again.

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