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Hybrids struggling as private demand drops

Demand for hybrid vehicles appears to be falling among private companies, despite increasing interest from the public sector, research suggests.

It shows that quotation requests for hybrids from private sector employees fell by 12% between 2004 and 2006.

During the same period, public sector demand rose by 78%.

Lesley Slater, director of Automotive Leasing, which carried out the research, said: "The public sector is clearly leading the way when it comes to choosing alternative fuel vehicles, whereas it seems private sector drivers are happy to stick with diesels."

A Honda spokesman said: "Sales of the Honda Civic Hybrid in the UK have followed a similar pattern to the findings reported by Automotive Leasing – but that’s no great surprise.

"The public sector is embracing green technology to lead by example, so it’s no shock that most hybrid sales have come from Government departments or agencies.

"It’s true that the private sector is some way behind, but there are a number of major companies that are keen to choose cleaner cars as part of a wider environment strategy, so there are spikes in that trend from month to month.

"It’s also worth noting that the Automotive Leasing study was carried out over the last two years, and back in 2004 hybrid technology was relatively unknown to those in both private and public sectors."

However, a Toyota spokesman said demand for the Prius was growing in both sectors, contrary to the findings.

He said: "Based on the fleet agreements we have in place with the private sector, we are showing an increased demand of 80% for Toyota Prius from January to June 2006 against 2005.

"This substantiates the growing interest in the private sector for hybrid technology."

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