Hybrid car sales were down 23% in the month of May (about 10,000 units). That's the biggest drop-off ever for hybrids.
Automakers sold more hybrids in May 2007 than they had in any other month (see figure) after seeing a big drop in April of 2007. So, increasing sales this May was unlikely. But a 23% drop is still disconcerting.
Most of that drop can be assigned to the "limited availability" of the Toyota Prius, which usually makes up half of all hybrid car sales in the US. This month, Prius sales were down by 37%.
But blaming the Prius won't cut it, either. Only three hybrid vehicles, led by the Altima Hybrid which was up 96%, increased sales from last year. Honda increased sales of the Civic Hybrid by 3% and Lexus increased sales of the RX 400h by 23%. All other hybrid vehicles were down or had no comparison from last year.
With the big drop-off in monthly sales, comes a big drop-off in cumulative sales, which are down 13% for the year.
For most of the hybrid vehicles on the list, most of the drop-off does not come from a lack of demand, as days-to-turn are still low. Instead, it's a lack of hybrid vehicles to sell from the manufacturer. For instance, the overall rate of sales puts the Prius about where it was last year. In other words, if the rate keeps up, Toyota will sell just as many Prius this year as they did last.
Smaller car sales were way up in May. The Corolla, Camry, Accord and Civic passed the F-150 for place in the US as customers continue to search for some relief from high gas prices. That may indicate consumers are looking for relief from sticker shock at the pump, but are avoiding the higher prices you have to pay for the hybrid powertrain.
Toyota continues to dominate the market. 3 out of every 4 hybrids sold in the US come with a Toyota or Lexus badge. And, despite the drop-off in sales, 43% of them were a Prius.
|Total ||45,095 ||34,696 ||-23% |
|Make||Model||Cumulative, 2006||Cumulative, 2007||% Change|
It may also be a push-back from last month's 46% increase: Hybrid Car Sales, April 2008.