The idea of producing large, luxury-vehicle hybrids is turning into a "what were they thinking?" exercise in futility, USA Today reports. General Motors is discontinuing hybrid versions of the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs, while Mercedes-Benz and Toyota's Lexus division are doing the same with their S-Class hybrid and LS hybrid sedans, respectively. The culprit? Big price increases for fuel economy improvements that border on the unimpressive.
Granted, the Escalade hybrid gets 31 percent better fuel economy than the standard version, but that still maps out to a combined fuel-efficiency rating of just 21 miles per gallon. That can be seen as a worthwhile increase, if it didn't cost over $8,000 extra. The 2014 Escalade Hybrid, for example, starts at $74,425 while the non-hybrid can be had for $66,295. Meanwhile, the Lexus full-size hybrid costs $6,000 more than the regular version but only gets 1-2 mpg better combined fuel economy. The result of all these high costs? Low sales. Through April, GM sold 82 of its hybrid SUVs and pickups, down from 541 a year earlier. And the LS hybrid sales were in single-digit territory for April. That isn't stopping Lexus from promoting its hybrids as the right solution (with the wrong facts), though.
There are still automakers giving big hybrid vehicles a shot, though. Nissan's Infiniti division is selling a hybrid version of its QX60 and says an impressive 10 percent of QX60 buyers choose the hybrid, which costs just $3,000 more. Looks like money talks.