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Ownership of hybrid vehicles jumps in isles

Hawaii motorists faced with rising gas prices boosted their purchases of hybrid vehicles sharply over the past year, according to a new report.

There were 32,014 hybrid and other alternative-fuel vehicles on the road at the end of June, up 36 percent from 23,503 in June 2009, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said in its Monthly Energy Trends report. That was more than double the average of 15,193 hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles registered in 2006.

"With rising gas prices it looks like a lot of people switched from gas-powered vehicles to hybrids," said Eugene Tian, acting chief economist with DBEDT.

DBEDT counts hybrids in a category that includes "flex-fuel" vehicles, which can run on a blend of 85 percent ethanol, and vehicles powered by propane. Hybrids account for the majority of vehicles in the category, according to DBEDT.

At the same time, registrations of gas-powered vehicles totaled 915,195 at the end of June, down 1 percent from the 925,168 registered in June 2009 and 6 percent lower than the average for 2006.

The report also showed that Hawaii motorists burned 132.9 million gallons of gasoline during the first half of this year, down 9 percent from the same period in 2009. Gas prices for the January-through-June period averaged $3.48 a gallon, up from an average of $2.54 a gallon during the same period a year earlier.

The biggest reduction was on Maui, where motorists cut their fuel consumption by 25 percent to 15.5 million gallons.


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