Hybrid car sales were boosted to new heights this month, due to the huge increase in sales from the Toyota Prius. Altogether, 34,637 hybrid units were sold in the month of March, an increase of 93.9% from last March. Honda also increased hybrid car sales, no thanks to the Honda Accord Hybrid. Ford increased sales by 58.7% on its Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Nissan increased sales of the Altima Hybrid by twice what they sold last month.
Overall, one of every two hybrids sold were Prius and four out of every five hybrids sold in March were from Toyota. Honda took 9.2% of the hybrid market, while Fords' slice came to 7.3%. Nissan, with the limited release of the Altima last month scooped up 1.3%.
Despite the huge increases for Toyota and Ford, the news is not all good for the hybrid car market. Except for the Prius and Escape/Mariner Hybrid, hybrid car sales for the first quarter are down from last year for all other hybrid car models.
Toyota Hybrid Sales
Increased sales for Toyota may come from the tax credits once again being halved as of April 1st. Toyota has also been offering different incentives on hybrid cars. Toyota set loft sales goals for this year when it comes to hybrids and it looks like they are trying extremely hard to meet them.
Toyota increased sales to a record high, selling 28,453 units in March. That's an increase of 137 percent from last March. The Prius had sales of 19,156 units, a personal best, and an increase of 141.8% from last year. The Prius was the number one hybrid in sales this month, making up ...% of the hybrid market. Highlander Hybrid sales were down 16.3% and Lexus RX400h sales were down 40.4%. Toyota also sold 5,144 units of the Camry Hybrid (the 2nd most popular hybrid) and 181 units of the Lexus GS 450h. Comparisons from last year will start next month, as both were put on sale in March, 2006.
Also according to the press release: TMS calendar-year-to-date hybrid sales totaled 61,635 units, an increase of 68 percent over the same period last year, while cumulative hybrid sales to-date surpassed the 500,000 sales mark.
"This month marks a milestone eight years in the making," said Jim Lentz, TMS executive vice president. "Record U.S. sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrids have now topped the half-million mark."
Honda Hybrid Sales
Honda increased hybrid sales to 3,199 units in the month of March. Honda Civic Hybrid sales were up by 26.0%, which covered the drop of 33.7% of the Honda Accord. Honda sold 2,813 units of the Civic Hybrid and 385 units of the Honda Accord Hybrid. Honda expects a new hybrid-only model to come to market in the next couple of years. This new model will replace the Insight.
Ford Hybrid Sales
Ford sold 2,523 units of the Ford Escape Hybrid/Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The Escape and it's luxury sister are totaled together by Ford. That's a pretty heft increase in sales from last year.
Nissan Hybrid Sales
Nissan sold 462 units of the Altima Hybrid. The Altima Hybrid is on sale in only 8 states, those with higher emissions standards.
First Quarter Sales are Down For Most Hybrid Models
- Honda Accord Hybrid: 1,715 to 945 units sold, down 44.9%
- Honda Civic Hybrid: 7,177 to 6,520 units sold, down 9.2%
- Toyota Prius: 22,123 to 39,682 units sold, up 79.4%
- Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 7,881 to 6,203 units sold, down 21.3%
- RX 400h: 5,750 to 3,965 units sold, down 31.0%
- Ford Escape/Mariner Hybrid: 3,829 to 5,457 units sold, up 58.7%
The downward trend in models besides the Prius may be due to the cutting of federal tax credits for Toyota and the relative stability of gas prices during the first few months of 2007. As gas prices continue to climb, I expect hybrid sales will also start to increase.
Toyota has been so much more successful for several reasons. Because their customers are slowly losing out on their federal tax credits, Toyota has been pushing out sales incentives. Also, they have started major ad campaigns on for all of their hybrid models. The Prius is the only hybrid car available to be a hybrid only model since the Insight was discontinued. That and being one of the first hybrids which also gets the best mileage makes the Prius almost synonymous with the word hybrid.
The other car companies have been focusing away from hybrid cars, despite how successful Toyota has been. Toyota increased sales in the US by 7.7%, while almost 12% of the cars sold by Toyota in March were hybrids. Perhaps its time for the other automakers to rethink their strategies.
Hybrid Car Sales, February 2007
Hybrid Car Sales, March 2007