Of course, there's a reason why sales have dropped so badly. With the new Prius due out shortly, plus the introduction of the new Insight, plus the overall market conditions, Toyota is having a hard time pushing the old Prius. Which btw, makes this a great time to buy a Prius if you don't mind getting the 'old' model.
Only two models show a positive gain from last year, the Nissan Altima Hybrid and the RX 400h. Every other model has been depressed by the economy and by lower gas prices.
Insight sales have been very high in Japan, forcing Toyota to fight back with lower prices on the Prius and using the older model as a 'cheaper' model.
|Monthly Sales||March 2008||March 2009||% Change|
|Cumulative Sales||Cumulative 2008||Cumulative 2009||% Change|
New Insight sales were very high, with Honda selling 569 units with limited sales. Ford also had an impressive first week with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids selling 451 units. Anyone who got their order in for the Ford Fusion or Mercury Milan will be eligible for the full tax credit from the federal government. Anyone who orders now will only be eligible for half the amount, so quite a few people were likely pushing Ford on the pre-orders.
GM hybrid truck sales have not been impressive so far. With over two months of sales under their belt, only 122 hybrid trucks have been sold so far.
Toyota has begun a process of losing market share in the hybrid marketplace. Right now, that drop from 82.5% in the first quarter of 2008 to 73.1% in the first quarter of 2009 is mostly due to 1) the drop in Prius sales and 2) the increase in models sold by their competitors. It's unclear if Prius sales will recover with the third generation coming out, but there should be some bounce back especially if Toyota fights back as aggressively here in the US as they have been in Japan.
Hybrid sales were still going strong even as the rest of the car market dried up. Long waiting lists were finally caught up on, then sales began to tank. Overall car sales had dropped 12% in March of 2008, even as hybrid car sales increased. That's going to create a 'false high' from last year when you compare rates of sales for hybrids vs the rest. It wasn't until May of 2008 when hybrid car sales were really affected by the economy.
If you really want a false comparison, you can see that hybrid car sales were way up compared to last month (I've seen a few car makers make that comparison, and it's just wrong to do).
Hybrid Car Sales, March 2008
Hybrid Car Sales, February 2009