NBC's Today Hypes Hybrids as Money Savers, But They're Not

<p><img vspace="3" hspace="3" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2006-05-10-NBCToday.jpg" />NBC’s Today hyped hybrid cars this morning but didn’t give consumers the full skinny on them. At the top of this morning’s Today show Katie Couric promoted an upcoming segment on the popularity of hybrids by way of taking this shot at the President’s poll numbers: <strong>&quot;Then another crisis facing this administration, those soaring gas prices. A poll out today says only 13 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the situation right now </strong>and now many people are trying to save money at the pump by turning to hybrid vehicles but there's a big catch, they're getting harder and harder to find.&quot; </p><p>A few minutes later NBC’s Peter Alexander’s devoted a whole piece to the increased demand for the hybrids as drivers look to lower costs in the face of high gas prices. Alexander<a href="node/4698"> piously</a> declared: <strong>&quot;Not long ago people said hybrids were for hippies. Those same people are driving them now.&quot; </strong></p><p>After airing a soundbite from an Edmunds.com representative saying more models of hybrids were in development Alexander claimed it was: &quot;Good news for drivers who don't want to wait to save money down the road.&quot; However Alexander didn’t give consumers the full story on the cost of hybrids as <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/personalfinance/printstory.php?pid=5404">Kiplin... points out: &quot;Unless gasoline prices triple, you're not likely to earn back the premium you'd pay for a hybrid car with savings at the pump. When you compare the cost of a hybrid with its gas-engine doppelg<font face="Times New Roman">ä</font>nger, hybrids typically cost at least $5,000 more.&quot; </p><p>If Today’s true aim was to save consumers money they would’ve mentioned this fact but instead all Today show viewers were left with was this extra-long commercial for hybrid cars:</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p>Katie Couric: &quot;With gas prices hovering close to $3 a gallon right now it's no surprise that many people are considering hybrid cars but there's just one problem, good luck finding one. Here's NBC's Peter Alexander.&quot;</p><p>Peter Alexander: &quot;It's a chronic condition, America's pain at the pump. So deep and persistent that drivers are giving the green light to hybrid cars at a record pace.&quot;</p><p>[Sean Feller: &quot;The gas prices are obviously the huge consideration. That was really what did it for us.&quot;]</p><p>Alexander: &quot;In Santa Monica, California Sean Feller finally got his hands on his first Toyota Prius.&quot;</p><p>[Feller: &quot;We waited three or four weeks to get it, that's right. Although we had heard that other people were waiting up to three or four months so we, we were one of the lucky ones.&quot;]</p><p>Alexander: &quot;Talk about supply and demand.&quot;</p><p>[Sean Homanyoun: &quot;The problem is not selling the vehicles, the problem is getting the cars to sell.&quot;]</p><p>Alexander: &quot;Not long ago people said hybrids were for hippies.&quot;</p><p>[clip from hybrid car ad]</p><p>Alexander: &quot;Those same people are driving them now. The average Honda Civic Hybrid races off the lot in just 10 days. Compare that to non-hybrids parked for nearly two months. And at Ford, with the help of a heavy marketing campaign, hybrid sales are up 50 percent over this time last year.&quot;</p><p>[Clip from Ford ad featuring Kermit The Frog]</p><p>Alexander: &quot;If you're in a hurry to get a hybrid consider a change in colors. At this Toyota dealership you could wait six months for a black Prius but if you're willing to go with something less popular like white, you could get it within weeks. The Prius shortage may not improve till fall. Right now Toyota is revving up production for the hybrid version of its bestselling model, the Camry, introduced just last month.&quot;</p><p>[Philip Reed: &quot;The future of hybrids is definitely that there's gonna be more and more of them coming out for more and more manufacturers.&quot;]</p><p>Alexander: &quot;Good news for drivers who don't want to wait to save money down the road. For Today, Peter Alexander, NBC News, Los Angeles.&quot;</p></blockquote>

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.