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US Sales of Hybrids in November Up 13.8% Year-on-Year

6 December 2006

Hybrid_sales_nov06_7_1
Click to enlarge.

Sales of hybrids in the US in November rose to 18,283 units, up 13.8% from the 16,065 sold in November 2005. The October 2006 tally does not yet include sales of GM’s VUE Green Line Hybrid.

Total light duty vehicle sales in November in the US increased 2.9% from the year prior, with sales of light trucks up 6.3% and sales of passenger cars down 1.1% year-on-year. In November, hybrids represented 1.52% of the new car market—an increase from the 1.38% share in November 2005, but a slight decrease from the 1.54% share in November 2006.

Hybrid_sales_nov06_2_1
Click to enlarge.

Toyota sold 8,008 Priuses in November, a 1.5% increase from November 2005. Sales of the Camry Hybrid hit 3,100 units in November. The Camry Hybrid represented 9.1% of total Camry brand sales in November, up from 8.3% in October but down from 10.6% in September.

The Highlander Hybrid posted 1,667 units, a decrease of 29.2% from November 2005. The Highlander Hybrid represented 15% of total Highlander sales, down from 16.0% in October and 20.1% in September.

The Rx 400h posted 1,327 units, a drop of 22.9% from November 2005. The Rx 400h represented 16.5% of combined Rx 400h/Rx 350 sales, down from 17.2% in October and 19.4% in September.

The luxury GS 450h sedan posted 176 units, representing 89.8% of combined GS 450h/GS 430 sales, up from 86.8% in September. The October results represented 9.5% of all GS model sales, up from 8.9% in September.

The Ford Escape and Mariner hybrid posted 1,484 units, up 32.4% from November 2005. The Ford hybrids represented 11.9% of total Escape and Mariner sales, down from 13.6% in October 2006.

Honda sold 2,208 units of the Civic Hybrid, up 6% from November 2005. The hybrid sales in October 2006 represented 11.0% of all Civic models sold, a slight increase from the 10.7% in October.

Accord Hybrid sales rebounded slightly from October 2006 with 311 sold, but still down 62.8% from November 2005. Hybrids represented 1.4% of all Accord models sold in October, an increase from the 1.2% in October but still short of the 1.7% in September. The Insight, phasing out, posted 2 units.

Hybrid_sales_nov06_3_1 Hybrid_sales_nov06_4
Hybrid car sales. Hybrid SUV sales.
Hybrid_sales_nov06_6 Hybrid_sales_nov06_5
Hybrid sales as a component of total model sales. Hybrids as percentage of total light-duty vehicle sales.

December 6, 2006 in Hybrids, Sales | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)

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Hybrid v. Suv sales remind me of Chicken Little. Gas prices go up, chicken little clammers for hybrids. Gas prices go down, chicken little wants to go 4-wheeling...

Prius is stalled. They'll have to adjust its pricing or risk ruining its brand - nice & cool, but too expensive.

Mike -

all the links to the large versions of the illustrations appear to be broken.

Mark -

consumers tend to base their estimates regarding fuel prices on past experience. Historically, whenever there was a period of very high oil prices, the oil industry responded by expanding production capacity which usually resulted in a global glut and an extended period of relatively low prices. This is why many are still lured by the siren call of deeply discounted SUVs, hoping that the average price of gas will stay well below $3 for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, high prices in the last few years are due mostly to rapidly rising demand from not just the OECD countries but also China, India, Eastern Europe etc. The US may yet suffer an economic downturn as a result of its housing glut and the weakening dollar - ultimately, a result of excessive borrowing - but there is nothing to suggest a massive reduction in global demand for oil.

On the supply side, the oil industry has allowed global production reserves to shrink substantially precisely because it had been burnt so badly by excessive production capacity growth following the 1980-81 price shock. Saudi Arabia still has some spare capacity, but no longer enough to effectively manage world oil prices. Iraq is now a semi-permanent disaster zone and Iran remains a potential threat to stability in the region. Untapped oil fields still exist outside the Persian Gulf, e.g. in very deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. However, bringing them on-stream takes several years and massive investment. This is profitable only if prices for benchmark crudes can reasonably be expected to remain above e.g. $40 a barrel for decades to come (cp. biofuels). In addition, NIMBYism continues to constrain US refinery capacity.

The upshot of all this is that those chicken little's are probably wrong: the US will likely see high average gasoline prices for at least 3-5 more years and quite possibly beyond that. Seasonal variations in demand result in fluctuations of $0.30-$0.50 per gallon either way, which is why the current price of ~$2.30 is deceptively low. See also the DOE data. (Hint: click on history 1993-2006 and choose annual view)

q -

Prius sales aren't stalled (as in falling) but they are stabilizing. I suspect this is partly due to incipient saturation of the hybrid market in its vehicle class but more so because the hybrid tax credit only applies to the first 60,000 units of any given model. As a result, Toyota currently has an incentive to push the Camry over the Prius.

Actually, the 60000 limit is based on combined Toyota & Lexus hybrid sales. As of Oct. 1, all Toyota and Lexus models had their original tax credits cut in half. This may help explain why most of those model sales dropped significantly since Sept. On April 1 2007, the credit will drop to 25%, and disappear in Oct 2007. Toyota is trying to get Congress to restore full tax credits, so write your senators and reps.

Stalled as not increasing or decreasing. I wouldn't call it stabilization either, but potential for gradual stagnation.
As posted, US tax credit is being removed. Here in Canda there was none to begin with. Its price is the same as Camry Hybrid and higher than many other vehicles. In particular I priced a reasonably equiped Smart (diesel engine) around $17K (CAD) as opposed to Prius base MSRP of around $31K. Their fuel efficiency is very close. While Prius is much bigger and the comparison is not fair, most of us are looking at an efficient commuter car which generally needs no more than 2 seats. For a family car I would prefer Camry Hybrid if I have to pay $30K+

So Prius is too expensive.

In addition to the reasons already mentioned, I would expect that many would be Prius owners are waiting for the next generation...especially those for whom price isn't an issue, but want the latest technology (hopefully PHEV).

d:

Yes, it is rather unfair to compare the Toyota Prius with the Smart diesel. They are not in the same size category.

What would be the mph of a mini-Prius (less than 2000 lbs)? It could be surprisingly higher than the Smart, specially with a larger 9 +/- Kwh battery pack.

I overheard that the Prius III (late 2008??) will have a much larger (improved) battery pack + improved electronics + more rugged electric traction and genset system and may be Toyota's first (limited) PHEV.
Unfortunately, it may not reach North America before 2010. Toyota likes to play it safe and will test the product on the local market for at least 2 years.

Will this technology be used in their smaller + larger cars and SUV's? Certainly, it is only a matter of time. By 2010/12 it will be available in most of their vehicles. Toyota is going to be the leader in PHEVs (and EVs) as they were/are with hybrids. Others will follow. Watch out for Chinese and Korean PHEVs and EVs.

GM and Ford will have to run much faster to catch up.

Interesting article on Bloomberg I just came across:

Biofuel May Cause Oil Slump

Rafael:

Don't forget that the slump in Asian economies in the late 90s that caused a big crash in oil prices. I think they bottomed out around $10 a barrel. This resulted in those nasty oil companies losing money hand over fist, with a flurry of mergers (ExxonMobil, anyone?). In other words, because prices were too low then we ended up with even fewer choices to buy gas from now.

The entire oil industry is understandably reluctant to invest too much in production when they were so unprofitable just a short time ago, really.

Instead of writing a letter to Congress/Senate to extend the hybrid credits, we can write a letter to Toyota to reduce the extras and the price and it
will automatically push the sales of hybrids higher.

If Altima-Hybrid comes under 25K tag, Accord-Hybrid sales may suffer further. Sad that GM does not publish Saturn-Vue sales. GM is in a club of its own.

I guess Honda has sold the last few units of Insight, since its sales have declined from 50 + to around 19 last month and 2 this month. Goodbye Insight.

"As posted, US tax credit is being removed. Here in Canada there was none to begin with. "

June 2006 Vehicle summary Prius sales sheet from Victoria BC Toyota shows a $2,000.00 "Tax Reduction for Alternative Fuel Vehicles."

BTW, tax reductions as incentives to adopt new technology work just the same as tax increases. The tax dollars diverted by alternative energy technology can be considered dollars no longer available to the industrial complexes.

Rafael Seidl,
PRC looks like it is going bubble. Sometime in the next 5-10 years, if the Communist leadership does not fix the problems, mainland China will face a severe economic downturn, with some parallels to Japan's lost decade. These include business/bank insolvency, speculative activity/overinvestment, corruption/waste, and civil unrest, amongst other important issues. What this will do to the energy consumption will depend on how well, economically, the wealthier parts of China weather the storm.

Max Reid,
Perhaps GM is conceding the fact that their current Green Line vehicle is not in the same catagory as the Prius, or even Honda (IMA). They may be saving for a splashy rollout in the next few year, as 2-mode hybrid models are introduced, and total sales numbers look better too.

As federal tax credits phase out, perhaps the insurance industry can step in with a "hybrid premium deduction". One firm, Farmer's Insurance, is already rolling out such a discount.

Prius sales will rebound when gas rebounds back to $3 and with the reinstatement of the 100% hybrid rebate when the dems occupy Capitol Hill- this is a no brainer.

Cervus,
From your link: "Biofuels may account for 7 percent of global transportation energy by 2030, provided governments implement International Energy Agency policies to promote alternatives to oil, the Paris-based adviser to oil-consuming nations said in its World Energy Outlook 2006 report."

Reality check: in 2005 the US produced enough ethanol to replace 1% of its oil consumption. Next year it may be what? 2.5%? Are you telling me that a 2.5% replacement of oil with ethanol is going cause oil prices to drop below $40/bbl?

7% by 2030? That will have OPEC shaking in its boots! LOL!

Oil may well drop below $40/bbl (who knows what the future holds?), but biofuels will not be the reason.

I find the following much more significant: "Prices for corn, used to make ethanol, have risen 47 percent in Chicago this year."

How much higher does the price of corn need to go to kill ethanol? My prediction:
1. Corn prices spike thanks to the large number of ethanol plants being built. Most food prices follow suit, although not as rapid or steep.
2. Ethanol producers everywhere start going bankrupt.
3. Calls on congress to bail out this important industry, that supplies us with locally produced fuel, etc. etc. Add BS of your own flavor.
4. Corn prices take a dive when ethanol producers cut back their buying.
5. Calls on congress to bail out this important industry (agriculture), that supplies us with locally produced food, etc. etc. Add BS of your own flavor.
6. Congress, spineless, clueless and unprincipled as they tend to be, showers money on the mid-west (as always).
7. Big Oil gets blamed for all of the above.
8. Big Oil continues to supply the bulk of the country's transportation energy.
9. Congress, spineless, clueless and unprincipled as they tend to be, showers money on Big Oil (as always).
10. Somehow, there is no federal funds for researching promising technologies, such as waste->fuel.
11. Private companies start developing profitable waste->fuel technologies, such as CWT's TDP, Choren's G/F-T, etc.
12. Big Oil begins to buy out those technologies that actually prove workable and (of course) profitable.
13. Big Oil starts building large waste->fuel plants in locations that make sense (NYC, LA, etc.).
14. Big Oil optimizes waste->fuel and makes it cheaper than fossil oil.
15. Oil imports to the US start a gradual decline.
16. Oil prices start a gradual decline.
17. Hardship, civil unrest, etc. in the middle East due to lost income.
18. Hugo Chavez visits the US to plead for investment in his country.
19. Chavez and others lose power, due to #16.
20. Keep on dreaming...!

FORMATTING COMMENT: Figure 2 "Monthly US Hybrid Sales" only shows every second model name. You may need to reduce the font size...

Engineer:

CWT, GreenFuel, GreenShift, Altairnano... lots of #11s out there.

I read somewhere that corn prices would need to rise over $2.50 a bushel before farmers would plant more. They may do so now that they've gone way up. At the moment, prices for both corn and wheat have risen so much that our exporters are having trouble finding buyers.

As for the rest, you're as cynical about politics as I am. :)

GM and Ford need to show they are serious about hybrids. They need to set agressive goals. Only then will Toyota and Honda be more agressive and pushing the envelope again.

100MPG hybrids should be the next target.

Cervus,
CWT, GreenFuel, GreenShift, Altairnano... lots of #11s out there.
Mine was not meant to be an exhaustive list, more an illustration that without (in spite of?) government action, waste->fuel technologies are making their way to the market. That said, CWT has an operating 500 bbl/d plant, while Choren is busy constructing a 4,500 bbl/d plant. That put them in the lead, as far as my knowledge goes. Am I missing something?

I read somewhere that corn prices would need to rise over $2.50 a bushel before farmers would plant more. They may do so now that they've gone way up. At the moment, prices for both corn and wheat have risen so much that our exporters are having trouble finding buyers.
The extra corn demand caused by all those new ethanol plants will have a number of (unforeseen) consequences. Will farmers be able (or as you point out, interested) in planting enough corn to match demand? Unlikely, IMHO.

My larger point remains: food->fuel is incredibly stupid, short-sighted, unproductive, etc. etc. A serious energy debate would reach this conclusion in short order. Serious energy policy would take this into account.

In the interim, corn ethanol is huge from the corn (and entire agricultural) industry's point of view. So, no surprise to see where the excitement is coming from. From an energy industry point of view, it is hardly worth mentioning. But try explaining that to a politician...

As for the rest, you're as cynical about politics as I am. :)
I believe the Founding Fathers saw government as part of the problem, at least potentially. Hence the unique principle behind the US constitution: protect citizens from their government.

I believe the proper role for government is to be umpire/referee and to amend the rulebook, as necessary. Other than that, government should stay of the field of play. Government as a player is always a bad idea.

Revised sequence:

1. Corn prices go up due to increasing ethanol demand. Food price go up a very small amount because the price of raw corn makes up a very small fraction of the price of finished food.

2. Farmers may plant more corn to increase supply, causing prices to level off.

3. If farmers cannot or do not produce more corn, some ethanol companies go bankrupt. Others, owned by the farmers themselves, do not, as the farmers sell the corn at a price that allows their own ethanol plant to just break even, or divert some of their windfall proftis from extra-high corn prices to keeping their plants non-bankrupt.

4. Outside investors buy the assets of bankrupt ethanol productions companies at fire-sale prices. Original investors loose their shirts, new investors make a profit running the plants even in a high-cost-corn environment because the rest of their cost basis is lower -- don't have to pay the full capital cost of the plants they now own.

5. To the extent that corn consumption goes down due to closing ethanol plants, ethanol becomes cheaper to produce, re-starting interest in its production. Step 4 happens more.

6. Someone eventually invents a viable cellulostic process / waste to oil process / battery electric car. Demand for corn ethanol for fuel drops. Farmers switch to planting switchgrass or go back to collecting agriculture support subsidies (like before ethanol drove up corn prices). Distillery owners go bankrupt / enter the vodka business / refit their plants to operate as cellulostic producers or whatnot.

7. The ethanol fuel tax credit never goes away, because it is a political sacred cow. Oxygenate rule continues to drive summer demand for ethanol, because clean air is a political sacred cow. Federal government does little else to muck around in this sector, beyond paying for some cellulostic R&D.

8. U.S. fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because anti-government and anti-tax sentiment prevents it from taking actions in other areas needed to make progress on this issue. CAFE is never adjusted or revamped. Gas taxes are never increased to price in the social costs of oil production and global warming. Car-centric and low-density urban development policies continue as before.

9. Miami, New York, Boston and Los Angeles all become less desireable places to live after they become, technically, underwater, due to rising sea levels.

Nice try, NBK!
6. Someone eventually invents a viable cellulostic process[a] / waste to oil process[b] / battery electric car[c]. Demand for corn ethanol for fuel drops. Farmers switch to planting switchgrass or go back to collecting agriculture support subsidies (like before ethanol drove up corn prices). Distillery owners go bankrupt / enter the vodka business / refit their plants to operate as cellulostic producers or whatnot.
That's a very long shot! [a] is possible, but highly unlikely. As both Cervus and I have pointed out that [b] is already happening. [c] has been in the works forever, and the results do no seem to be forthcoming.

There are two basic flaws in your thinking:
1. It will be ethanol. Actually, I believe it won't. Ethanol introduces a host of issues: special requirements for transportation and storage, changes to vehicles to make them flex-fuel, etc. Note that both Choren and TDP produces a hydrocarbon fuel that can be refined into the same diesel and gasoline we are all famaliar with: No need to make changes to anything and you can blend the renewable with the fossil at any convenient ratio.
2. The farmers will produce the energy crop. Not in the short term, and quite possibly, never. The simple reason is that the farmers can't do it cheap enough (and support themselves). Besides, we need them to produce food. To put it another way: Why pay a farmer for corn/switchgrass, when you can get paid to take waste? Why set-up in distant farmland, when you can set-up at a large city, take their waste and sell them fuel?

7. The ethanol fuel tax credit never goes away, because it is a political sacred cow. Oxygenate rule continues to drive summer demand for ethanol, because clean air is a political sacred cow. Federal government does little else to muck around in this sector, beyond paying for some cellulostic R&D.
Neither the fuel tax credit, nor the oxygenate rule can save ethanol. The coming corn shortage takes ethanol prices to where the tax credit cannot help them. Ethanol is not the only oxygenate. You can use Choren's process to produce a number of different oxygenates, including ethanol.

8. U.S. fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because anti-government and anti-tax sentiment prevents it from taking actions in other areas needed to make progress on this issue. CAFE is never adjusted or revamped. Gas taxes are never increased to price in the social costs of oil production and global warming. Car-centric and low-density urban development policies continue as before.
Here's my advice: Don't wait for the government. Our elected "leaders" obviously can't or won't make the tough calls. But watch the market. Waste->fuel will eventually undercut oil. As a nice side benefit, it also reduce GHG emissions, and saves the planet, free of charge.

1. Corn prices go up due to increasing ethanol demand. Food price go up a very small amount because the price of raw corn makes up a very small fraction of the price of finished food.
I doubt it. Ever noticed how high fructose corn syrup seems to be used in everything? (On a side note: ever wonder why everybody is so overweight?) Expensive corn prices will affect a host of foods: it is not only what we eat, but also what our food (think cattle) eat. We will find out soon enough...

2. Farmers may plant more corn to increase supply, causing prices to level off.
We are talking about some pretty substantial increases in supply, 25 to 50%. Your faith in the farmers' ability to just crank up production overnight is touching. I'm not so sure.

3. If farmers cannot or do not produce more corn, some ethanol companies go bankrupt. Others, owned by the farmers themselves, do not, as the farmers sell the corn at a price that allows their own ethanol plant to just break even, or divert some of their windfall proftis from extra-high corn prices to keeping their plants non-bankrupt.
Farmers are going to sell corn at a loss (to the ethanol plant) to keep it running? And then sell ethanol at loss? Remember, if ethanol gets more expensive than gasoline (after including the subsidy), the buyers will just turn to gasoline. Possible, but unlikely. It would be far easier (and less risky) to sell the corn to the highest bidder and mothball the ethanol plant. Use the windfall profits to cover the cost of mothballing.

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