Hybrid electric vehicle sales are expected to exceed 500,000 units annually by 2008 and 872,000 units by 2013, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Hybrid Vehicle Outlook released May 28.The company said U.S. consumers purchased approximately 38,000 hybrid vehicles in 2002, and hybrid sales are expected to increase to 54,000 vehicles in 2003. "The biggest limiting factor on sales is that up until now, the hybrid engine option has been offered only in compact cars," said Walter McManus, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. "That's about to change, and when it does, we'll see sales increase dramatically."According to the company, the hybrid electric vehicle first reached the market in 1999 with the launch of the Honda Insight. The Toyota Prius debuted the following year, and the Honda Civic Hybrid went on sale in 2002. The first SUV hybrid, the Ford Escape, and the first full-size pickup hybrids-a Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra-will hit commercial fleets later this year and retail dealers in early 2004."By 2005, trucks should account for about 39 percent of hybrid sales," McManus said. "We know, based on J.D. Power and Associates studies, that consumers express interest in a hybrid powertrain option in the same segment as their current vehicle. Once those vehicles are available, and in most cases that will be very soon, hybrid sales could take off."Hybrid vehicles are expected to penetrate 1 percent of the market by 2005, and reach 3 percent market share by 2009. Hybrids will account for nearly 5 percent of the market by 2013."As more automakers enter the hybrid market, we'll see dramatic movement in market share," McManus said. "The automakers that have the most diverse product lineup should have the competitive advantage in market share growth."The 2003 Hybrid Vehicle Outlook is based on J.D. Power and Associates North American Automotive Forecasting data. Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is an ISO 9001-registered global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.