Toronto, Ontario – Alternative fuels are continuing to gain acceptance with Canadian buyers, although hybrid sales are falling, according to a new report by J.D. Power and Associates.

Retail sales of light-duty vehicles equipped to run on sources such as diesel, ethanol and gas/electric grew from 2008 to 2009, but traditional gasoline-powered cars and light-duty trucks still accounted for approximately nine out of every ten new-vehicle sales in 2009.

Diesel penetration increased by 0.2 percentage points in 2009, as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen continued to expand their portfolio of diesel models.

In contrast, deliveries of hybrid models fell to 1.3 per cent of the market, constituting a drop of nearly one-half percentage point in comparison to 2008. The very low retail turn rates (the time they sit on the dealer lot before being sold) for hybrid models in 2008 did not repeat in 2009, mostly due to the stabilization of gasoline prices.

The increase in deliveries of flexible-fuel vehicles, able to run on ethanol, increased almost twofold to 7.4 per cent, driven by consumers seeking both fuel efficiency and availability.

Among individual major metro markets, diesel penetration in Calgary/Edmonton was much higher than in any other market, although the results were down from the prior year, at 6.0 per cent versus 6.6 per cent. Hybrid penetration was the highest in Vancouver at 1.8 per cent, more than one-third greater than the national average, and marginally higher than Toronto.

Gasoline-powered vehicles accounted for 93.9 per cent of all new-vehicle sales in Montreal, although this result was down by 2.3 per cent from the prior year. 

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