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Study Finds Growing Number Of Hybrid Drivers Trading In Fuel-Sipping Cars For SUVs

(CBS SF) – Lower gas prices could be leading to drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles to trade in their cars for conventional vehicles, including SUVs, according to an analysis from auto research website

So far in 2015, Edmunds reports about 22 percent of people who traded in their hybrids and EVs bought a new SUV, up from 18.8 percent in 2014 and 11.9 percent three years ago.

Edmunds said only 45 percent of hybrid and electric trade-ins went to another alternative fuel vehicle, which is down from 60 percent in 2012.

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"For better or worse, it looks like many hybrid and EV owners are driven more by financial motives rather than a responsibility to the environment," Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell said in a statement.

According to AAA, the nationwide average for a gallon of regular is $2.48 as of Wednesday, down from $3.67 a year earlier.

Car sales information from Autodata reported in USA Today found sales of the electric Nissan Leaf, the best-selling EV in the U.S., are down 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid are down 7.7 percent and the Prius Plug-In hybrid are down 61.4 percent.

Bay Area-based Tesla Motors could be bucking the trend. The electric car maker reported deliveries of 10,000 Model S sedans in the first quarter, up 55 percent over the same period in 2014. Tesla did not break out how many of those vehicles were sold in the U.S.

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