Overall, sales were pulled down by slow Prius sales, as customers are seen to be holding off in anticipation of the next generation Prius which is out for sale in May/June. New Insight sales were strong, if not as remarkable as elsewhere in the world. Ford noted the strong sales of the Fusion and Fusion hybrid in their press release, but still, sales were below their target.
But probably the biggest story (other than the overall malaise) is the drop in market share for Toyota, as Honda and Ford pushed ahead with their new hybrids.
Toyota v. Honda, the new Hybrid War
April continued a general slide in all auto sales, with a decline of 34.3%. Hybrid sales, as always followed Prius sales, and Prius sales have been slow the past few months. Sales of the Prius this month were down over 61%, but relief may be on the way.
Anticipation of the new Prius, the economy and lower gas prices have kept buyers away. The next generation Prius, however, reportedly has 40 - 50,000 pre-order already and Toyota has already increased production numbers in anticipation of a large demand.
Honda sold over 2 thousand of the new Insight, which indicates a strong start to their new dedicated hybrid in its first full sales month. But that number is way below the sales goal. If they intend to sell 100,000 Insights in the US a year, they need to sell 4X as many. That's going to be hard going up against the new Prius and the economy.
GM, Nissan and Ford
GM sales remained stable, maybe even a little bit stronger than in the past few months. But comparatively speaking, they are still far behind Toyota and Honda.
Nissan sales fell dramatically, but it's always hard to tell what that's an indicator of. With the Altima hybrid only being sold in limited areas, it could be Nissan is losing sales to the new Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid. Or it could be simply a limitation on production.
Ford showed a net gain in hybrid sales, although the number of Escapes and Mariners sold were way down (40% decrease).
Overall Hybrid Market Changes
Strong sales of the hybrid Fusion and Milan helped Ford increase their market share to 11%, while Honda's new Insight helped them go from 16.8% to 26.2% of the market. In January, 3 out of every 4 (78.7%) hybrids sold in the US were made by Toyota. This month Toyota was down to 58.7% of the market. It may be temporary, but it shows how much more competition there is, and it's not going to be easy for Toyota to hold on to it's hybrid image.
By the end of June, we'll have a much better grasp of the new hybrid market. There are two big questions. 1) Will the Prius retain it's hold, or will the Insight break Toyota's hold on the hybrid market. And 2) will there be a big enough space for all of the midsize sedan hybrids (Fusion, Milan, Camry, Altima, Civic). It seems like the Camry and Altima are being pushed down, as the Fusion/Milan push their way in. And the Civic seems to have benefitted a great deal from the new Insight being sold next to it. By June, as the new Prius takes hold, we'll have a much better idea about all of this.
|Monthly Sales||April 2008||April 2009||% Change|
|Cumulative Sales||Cumulative 2008||Cumulative 2009||% Change|
Hybrid Car Sales, March 2009
Hybrid Car Sales, April 2008