Hybrid cars sales were up in December 2009 by 46.3% from last December, for a total of 24,690 units sold. Most of that increase comes from Prius, which improved by almost 50% from last year.
The thing to note about that, however, is Toyota was winding down the second generation Prius and getting ready for the third generation Prius. But, at the same time, it could be argued Toyota has been rerouting Prius sales to Japan, where it's the number one selling car in the country right now. So, this months total is likely lower than they could be.
A couple of things to keep in mind with these numbers. I am not reporting mild hybrid sales here (Vue, Aura, and Malibu). Also, sales of the new S400 hybrid were not broken out by Mercedes-Benz, so I can' add them in here. And, GM did not break down their sales by model, so unlike other months, I'm just reporting GM total hybrid car sales.
|Monthly Sales ||December 2008 ||December 2009 ||% Change |
|Make ||Model ||N ||% ||N ||% |
|Chrysler ||Aspen/Durango ||46 ||0.3 ||0 ||0 ||-100.0 |
|Ford ||Escape/Mariner ||1149 ||6.8 ||1157 ||4.7 ||0.7 |
|Ford ||Fusion/Milan ||0 ||0 ||1686 ||6.8 ||0.0 |
|GM ||Total ||1729 ||10 ||931 ||3.8 ||-46.2 |
|Honda ||Accord ||1 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||-100.0 |
|Honda ||Civic ||1036 ||6.1 ||471 ||1.9 ||-54.5 |
|Honda ||Insight ||0 ||0 ||1639 ||6.6 ||0.0 |
|Nissan ||Altima ||710 ||4.2 ||842 ||3.4 ||18.6 |
|Toyota ||Camry ||1888 ||11 ||1513 ||6.1 ||-19.9 |
|Toyota ||GS ||51 ||0.3 ||54 ||0.2 ||5.9 |
|Toyota ||HS ||0 ||0 ||1980 ||8 ||0.0 |
|Toyota ||Highlander ||890 ||5.3 ||1029 ||4.2 ||15.6 |
|Toyota ||LS ||50 ||0.3 ||15 ||0.1 ||-70.0 |
|Toyota ||Prius ||7859 ||47 ||11775 ||48 ||49.8 |
|Toyota ||RX ||1463 ||8.7 ||1598 ||6.5 ||9.2 |
|Total ||16872 ||24690 ||46.3 |
|Cumulative Sales ||Cumulative 2008 ||Cumulative 2009 ||% Change |
|Make ||Model ||N ||% ||N ||% |
|Chrysler ||Aspen/Durango ||81 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||-100.0 |
|Ford ||Escape/Mariner ||19522 ||6.3 ||16480 ||5.8 ||-15.6 |
|Ford ||Fusion/Milan ||0 ||0 ||17022 ||6 ||0.0 |
|GM ||Total ||6677 ||2.2 ||8797 ||3.1 ||31.8 |
|Honda ||Accord ||198 ||0.1 ||1 ||0 ||-99.5 |
|Honda ||Civic ||31297 ||10 ||15119 ||5.3 ||-51.7 |
|Honda ||Insight ||0 ||0 ||20572 ||7.3 ||0.0 |
|Nissan ||Altima ||8819 ||2.9 ||9357 ||3.3 ||6.1 |
|Toyota ||Camry ||46272 ||15 ||22887 ||8.1 ||-50.5 |
|Toyota ||GS ||678 ||0.2 ||469 ||0.2 ||-30.8 |
|Toyota ||HS ||0 ||0 ||6699 ||2.4 ||0.0 |
|Toyota ||Highlander ||19391 ||6.3 ||11086 ||3.9 ||-42.8 |
|Toyota ||LS ||980 ||0.3 ||258 ||0.1 ||-73.7 |
|Toyota ||Prius ||158886 ||52 ||139682 ||49 ||-12.1 |
|Toyota ||RX ||15200 ||4.9 ||14464 ||5.1 ||-4.8 |
|Total ||308001 ||282893 ||-8.2 |
Ford Escape and Mariner Hybrid sales held steady, but Fords overall hybrid sales are way up with the introduction of the new Fusion and Milan Hybrids. Nissan Hybrid sales were also up, but given the limited distribution of the Altima Hybrid and Nissan sales don't really impact the overall picture.
GM Hybrid sales were down by over 46%, which is not a good indicator, given the other car makers were all up, but the picture is a little cloudier than first impressions make it out to be. Individual model sales were up and down across the board, but overall sales were buoyed by the introduction of new models (Fusion and Milan) and the Prius 'rebound' from last year.
Toyota, as usual, dominated hybrid car sales, accounting for over 70% of the hybrid car market.
Fusion Impacting Other Hybrid Sales?
Probably the most interesting thing to notice this month is the possible impact the Fusion/Milan Hybrid is having. Although nothing seems to impact the Prius sales (except for itself as it goes through new generations, gets re-routed or whatever), the Civic Hybrid and Camry Hybrid sales have been suffering. My guess is customers are opting for the new Fusion and Insight and the HS 250h. It's not enough to be hybrid, now that there are options out there. It's likely that customers are more aware now there are other possibilities, comparing those options, and are opting for the best features.
Based on previous polls, hybrid car buyers are choosing their cars for the image and status, with little regard to the cost, which may indicate why the HS has done well so far. And the Fusion/Milan hybrids may be doing so well at the expense of the Civic and Camry Hybrids because it offers better fuel economy, while not stripping out any luxuries you might want.
At the same time, the Insight has not been the Prius killer some expected, since the lower cost which was supposed to appeal, just isn't that appealing to those who are going to buy hybrid. Until the price really comes down farther (almost $20,000 isn't exactly a bargain after all), hybrid buyers are not opting to go cheaper at the expense of mileage.
Cumulative Hybrid Car Sales for 2009
I've already spoken a bit about the cumulative totals, but I'll just sum up my thoughts once again.
The cumulative reported hybrid car sales for 2009 are down by 8.2%. That isn't bad, compared to the overall decline of over 20% for light vehicle sales.
|Cumulative Sales||Cumulative 2008||Cumulative 2009||% Change|
|Toyota||241,407 ||78.4 ||195,545 ||69.1 ||-19.0|
GM cumulative hybrid sales were up by almost 32% from last year, with the introduction of the Sierra and Silverado Hybrids helping. But the SUV and truck hybrid market GM has focues on doesn't seem to be making a big impact in the overall hybrid market. That leaves them behind even Nissan despite having five models to Nissan's one. GM would probably be quick to point out they have three other models, but they are all mild hybrids and are soon to be phased out of production anyways. Instead, they will be launching themselves into the plug-in hybrid world in the coming year.
Nissan increased their sales overall by 6.1%, marking a solid increase by the Altima Hybrid, which is unusual. Most of the car makers increased sales from last year because they introduced new models, while Nissan still has just the one (which is made with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive). But sales are still limited to just eight states, making Nissan a bit player in the hybrid market.
Ford's hybrid sales were way up, marking a 71% gain over last year. Unfortunately, that's due to a doubling of their hybrid models from 2 to 4. Which means the gains aren't as impressive as you might first think. It's still not bad, and I'm sure Ford is very happy to see their market share increase to just behind Honda.
Honda hybrid car sales were up by 12.6%, marking the transition they have been making away from the Civic Hybrid to the Insight, which seems to be stealing sales away from the Civic Hybrid. While not the numbers Honda had hoped for from the Insight so far, it still puts them in second place.
Toyota sales were down for the year by 19%, despite the introduction of their new HS model. But since their new model, as compared to the Fusion/Milan and Insight, is a luxury model, the sales numbers for the HS are very good so far. But the low numbers didn't help make up for the lower numbers across the board from the other models. The Prius, especially, suffered as the transition was made from the second generation to the third generation. Sales rebounded immediately after the introduction of the new model, but not enough to make up for the slowdown at the beginning of the year.
Where To From Here?
Keep in mind that sales in 2008 were down from 2007 (almost 10%), which just goes to show you how badly and how long the recession has been affecting car sales in general. Again, hybrids outperformed the overall market by a handy margin, showing fuel economy is still a big factor in people's thinking. So even thought the market may been lowered, hybrids are still showing they are a strong emerging market.
The future is in a bit of a flux, however. The introduction of the Chevy Volt, even in limited numbers, will push hybrids in a whole new direction. Other smaller car makers will also be entering the arena with their hybrids, mostly luxury models. In other words, hybrids are truly transitioning from niche to something else.
Yes, they still only made up 2.8% of the overall market, but more and more car makers are focusing in on hybrids or diesels or plugs for the future. And with the new fuel economy regulations (CAFE rules and in California), automakers are going to have to do what they can to increase their fleet fuel economy. So, 2010-2012 should see quite an uptick in hybrid penetration.
Hybrid Car Sales in 2008
Hybrid Car Sales, December 2008
Hybrid Car Sales, November 2009