California topped U.S. hybrid sales in 2006, according to retail sales data released this week, Hybridcar.com reports. R.L. Polk & Co., which analyzes state vehicle registration data, said California's hybrid sales totaled 67,533 new hybrid registrations, accounting for 26.5 percent of total new hybrid sales. Three of the nation's top 10 hybrid metro markets were from the state (Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego). Los Angeles remains the top metro market with 12.2 percent of all hybrid vehicle registrations in 2006. In contrast to California's new vehicle sales decline of 5.1 percent from 2005, hybrid sales growth remains strong in the state, likely due to state and local government incentives, such as the California hybrid HOV program. Nationwide, registrations for new hybrid vehicles rose to 254,545 in 2006 – a 28 percent increase from 2005, said R. L. Polk & Co. Compared with 2005's headline grabbing growth rate of 139 percent, 2006's growth rate appears deflated. However, the hybrid market is only starting its ascendancy towards wider adoption and is still largely controlled by the supply side, according to Hybridcar.com. A more stable growth pattern is expected to emerge towards the middle of the next decade as the market moves away from the early adaptors cycle.
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