Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Low-energy Vehicles Work

Two Million and Counting: Are hybrids the new norm?

The average consumer, faced with the task of buying a new car or SUV, has no compelling practical reason not to consider a hybrid option. Up-front price is the only barrier to entry, and carmakers have managed to pare down this difference so that it's practically negligible on a new purchase.

Assuming, of course, all other things being equal (which they never really are). Car purchases can be as emotional as they are logical, and it's understandable if someone's dead set on a model or trim that doesn't come in a hybrid... or if the growl of a V8 is just too bad-ass to ignore.

But to the average person, these things don't matter, and a hybrid will suit their needs just fine. That in itself is an achievement by the auto industry. Just a few minutes of browsing provides some compelling illustration. For example, Toyota, one of the early leaders in pushing mainstream hybrids, has six hybrid models available as of the summer of 2012 -- dead even with the car and van range.

Two million hybrids have been sold since 2012, with sales peaking just before the recession and holding fairly steady through the decline [source: Essex and Holland]. So, while a hybrid might not be the default choice for most car shoppers, they're continuing to win new converts.