Hybrid Car Sales, October 2008 ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hybrid Car Sales, October 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hybrid Car Sales, October 2008

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.

Honda had close to a 30% decline in Civic hybrid sales, but Civic hybrid sales are still up 12% on the year.  If the trend continues, Honda Civic Hybrid sales may be the only hybrid sales up for the whole 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 Oct-07 Oct-08 % Change
Honda Accord 243 1 -100%
Honda Civic 2,286 1,621 -29%
Honda Insight 0 0 -
Toyota Prius 13,158 11,804 -10%
Toyota Highlander 596 1,022 71%
Toyota Camry 3,511 2,792 -20%
Toyota GS 450h 71 22 -69%
Toyota RX 400h 1,392 615 -56%
Toyota LS600hL 175 55 -69%
Ford Escape/Mariner 2,084 1,997 -4%
Nissan Altima 927 554 -40%
GM Yukon/Tahoe/Escalade 0 795 -
Total 24,443 21,278 -13%
Make Model Cumulative, 2007 Cumulative, 2008 % Change
Honda Accord 3,051 197 -94%
Honda Civic 26,114 29,218 12%
Honda Insight 3 0 -100%
Toyota Prius 150,272 142,367 -5%
Toyota Highlander 16,684 17,594 5%
Toyota Camry 44,390 42,210 -5%
Toyota GS 450h 1,676 585 -65%
Toyota RX 400h 13,585 13,113 -3%
Toyota LS600hL 638 893 40%
Ford Escape/Mariner 20,619 17,012 -17%
Nissan Altima 6,233 7,756 24%
GM Yukon/Tahoe/Escalade 0 4,181 -
Total 283,265 275,034 -3%

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

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