Sales of hybrids in the US increased 2.3 times in May 2005 to 16,887 units from 7,275 units the prior year. However, results for all automakers were down from the torrid pace set in April.
Sales of the market-leading Prius dropped back below 10,000 to post the car’s third strongest month to date. Combined with the 2,931 units of the Lexus Rx400h—the strongest of its two months of sales—Toyota captured 73% of all hybrid sales for the month.
Honda saw a sharp drop in sales of the Civic hybrid—down 40% to 1,895 from May 2004. Sales of the Honda Accord hybrid likewise sputtered a bit, dropping back to 1,314, but still representing its third strongest month. Sales of the Insight dropped back to 52 units, a decrease of 60% from May 2004.
Ford’s Escape hybrid also dropped back off of its pace from the prior two months, posting 1,234 units—it’s third strongest month as well. (The Escape model (conventional and hybrid) as a whole did not do as well—sales dropped 40% in May from the prior year, from 23,197 units to 14,038.)
It will be interesting to see if the reports of the stalling problems Toyota has had with some Prius units, and now the NHTA investigation into those problems (earlier post), affect sales at all. Probably not, unless the scale and severity of the problem escalates.
Car Buyer’s Notebook has an interesting piece on the models leading the industry with the lowest “turn time”—the number of days a car sits on the lot before it is sold.
Toyota dominated the list with six of the ten—two from Lexus, three from Toyota and one Scion model. Toyota was the only manufacturer with more than one vehicle on the list, and the Prius hybrid has the distinction of being number one on the list every month this year.
Coincidentally, the LA Times ran a piece on the high reliability of the Prius.
It’s clearly a good time to be Toyota, and the company is working hard to maximize its strategic gains during this period (before Fortune’s wheel turns again).
Toyota clearly seeks to establish itself as a domestic North American automaker. The company has plans to build three additional auto plants through 2010—the Texas plant coming online in Fall 2006; a new Canadian plant expected to go live in 2008, and a potential eighth plant by 2010. (Nikkei)
We will continue efforts so that we’re recognized as a U.S. firm.—Toyota President Fujio Cho
Manufacturing the upcoming Camry hybrid in the US is part of that strategy; it will be illustrative to see when (if) Prius assembly moves to North America as well. Toyota’s hybrids represent 6% of the vehicles it sold in May, yet they carry a disproportionate impact on the company’s positioning and the market’s perception of it.