How Hot Are Hybrids Globally?

In 2008, worldwide interest in hybrid cars began to spike at the beginning of the summer, just as gas prices began to skyrocket. At least that’s when Google’s (s GOOG) year-end Zeitgeist, released (and covered on GigaOM) today, shows a jump in searches for the term. Surely that’s just in the U.S., where “good weather and vacations” (according to the Energy Information Administration) cause demand to average about 5 percent higher in the summer, right? Funny you should ask. We did — and found that while U.S. Googlers have the strongest interest in hybrid cars, hybrid searchers from Malaysia, Canada, and Singapore are not far behind. From there, regional search volume drops off precipitously.

To be sure, Google presents an imperfect science for judging demand for hybrid-electric vehicles. In Malaysia, for example, Honda (s HMC) has made a big push for its hybrid-electrics there, but made hardly a dent in a market where some local manufacturers use “hybrid car” to describe dual-fuel-option (natural gas or gasoline) vehicles, according to CNET Asia. Still, the top 10, which is ranked according to Google’s search volume index, offers a glimpse of relative interest in the technology. The numbers represent the likelihood of users in each country searching for “hybrid car,” on a scale of 0-100. Google divides the total number of searches for each country by the number of searches for this particular term, and then normalizes the data based on the country’s traffic volume.

  1. United States: 100
  2. Malaysia: 66
  3. Canada: 60
  4. Singapore: 56
  5. Australia: 45
  6. New Zealand: 42
  7. South Korea: 35
  8. India: 30
  9. Hong Kong: 23
  10. United Kingdom: 22