October continued the downward trend for hybrid car sales, with a 13% decline in reported sales. (A side note: Sales did go over reported sales from 2 years ago for the first time since July) With 21,278 units sold in October, the trend for 2008 is being sealed, with a small decline in sales for the first time since hybrids came onto the market. It's not hard to figure out why hybrid car sales are declining. Compared to the industry as a whole, hybrids are not declining as fast as other car segments, but the overall downward trend is pulling even hybrids down. Add in lower gas costs and the extra hybrid car cost isn't as appealing to as many car buyers.
Toyota lost ground, with a 14% decline in general. The Prius, which still accounts for over half of all hybrid sales each month, was down 10%. That sort of decline for the mainline of all hybrids shows where the hybrid car industry is right now. Toyota sold around 30,000 Prius in the last two months of 2007. Even if Toyota were to match that, Toyota wouldn't reach the 180,000 they hoped to sell. And that's very surprising given the really high demand for the Prius at the beginning of the year. As with last month, the only increase in sales comes from the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which had a 72% gain from last year. But that just shows you how low the sales were as Toyota made the switchover to the new model for the Highlander last year.
Nissan continued their limited sales of the Altima Hybrid, while Chrysler hasn't reported any sales of their new hybrid models, yet. GM sold 795 of their dual mode hybrids, which gives them just over 4,000 hybrid SUVs for the year. Given the upcoming retirement of both the Chrysler hybrids and the GM SUV hybrids, sales will most likely be limited in the next few months.
|Make||Model||Cumulative, 2007||Cumulative, 2008||% Change|
With the retirement of Chrysler and GM hybrids SUVs, the next big thing in hybrid sales will come from Ford as they release the Fusion and Milan.
There are only three things that could drastically change the current negative environment: 1) the overall economy could improve, 2) gas prices rise up again with the end of the election period, or 3) if Toyota somehow figure out how to increase production of the Prius. The third is the most unlikely since Toyota is working on changing over the Prius, which is probably why the Prius sales have declined. Until then, it looks like the hybrid car industry will remain stagnant or continue to decline.
Hybrid Car Sales, September 2008
Hybrid Car Sales, October 2007