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Hybrids Post Strong US Sales in November; Up 82% Year-on-Year

6 December 2007

Us_hybrid_sales_2007111
Total hybrid sales by month. Click to enlarge.

Reported sales of hybrids in the US in November rose 82% year-on-year to reach 33,233 total units, representing 2.8% of all light-duty vehicles sold during the month. GM does not break out its hybrid sales separately, and so is not reflected in the hybrid number—thus, the actual hybrid total and new market share will slightly higher.

Total light-duty vehicle sales in the US dropped 1.6% year-on-year in November to 1,179,848 units, according to Autodata, with sales of light trucks dropping 7.4% and sales of passenger cars increasing 5.5%.

Us_hybrid_sales_2007112
Hybrid share of new vehicle sales by month. Click to enlarge.

Toyota posted a strong month, with Prius sales hitting 16,737 units, up 109% from the year before. Camry Hybrid turned in 5,118 units, up 65% from the year before and representing 14.5% of all Camry models sold. Sales of the Highlander Hybrid were back up after a slump for several months to 2,577 units—an increase of 55% from November 2006 and representing 20.9% of all Highlander models sold.

On the Lexus side of the house, sales of the Rx 400h climbed 26% to 1,674 units compared to November 2006, representing 20.8% of Rx 350/400h models sold. The high-end Lexus 600h posted 170 units, for 6.4% of the 2,668 units sold of the LS 460/600h models. The GS 450h posted 100 units, down 43% from November 2006, and representing 46.3% of the combined GS 460/450h sales and 4.5% of all GS models.

Us_hybrid_sales_2007113
Hybrid component of brand sales. Click to enlarge.

Ford turned in strong results for its Escape and Mariner hybrids, with combined sales up 50% from the year before to 2,224 units, representing 15.2% of combined model sales.

Honda’s Civic Hybrid posted 3,238 units, up 47% from November 2006 and representing 12.9% of all Civic sales in the month. The Accord Hybrid posted 204 units (0.9% of all Accord sales), down 34% from the year before.

Nissan had its best month yet for the Altima Hybrid, with 1,191 units representing 6% of all Altima sales. The Altima Hybrid is sold in only eight states.

December 6, 2007 in Hybrids, Sales | Permalink | Comments (43) | TrackBack (0)

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"Reported sales of hybrids in the US in November rose 82% year-on-year to reach 33,233 total units, representing 2.8% of all light-duty vehicles sold during the month.
Total light-duty vehicle sales in the US dropped 1.6%."
An 82% increase in hybrids while total sales dropped slightly shows a very encouraging trend.

"Sales of the Highlander Hybrid were back up after a slump for several months to 2,577 units—an increase of 55% from November 2006 and representing 20.9% of all Highlander models sold."
Sounds like Toyota was accurate when it said the slump was due mainly to supply side issues.
Hybrids being 20% of Highlander sales suggests that at least some SUV buyers are influenced by fuel consumption.

These figures make me wonder what could be achived with appropriate incentives in place
- GHG tax on all fossil fuels
- modest gasolene tax (funding PATP ins)
- feebate on new car sales based on CO2
- annual registration fees based on CO2
- incentives for hybrid R&D
- think of some more incentives

I wonder at what point they will decide to kill the GS460? Maybe they are keeping it to justify the costs for other vehicles using the same engine.

It seems to be very close to a 50/50 split most months with the GS450H and GS460.

Polly,

Yes, IMO the numbers reflect availability more than consumer demand. One of those November Prius's was mine. I went to the Honda dealer to test drive the Civic Hybrid; they had exactly zero cars on the lot. If they made more they'd sell more.

The Toyota dealer had 8-10 Prius's, and I was able to pay less than MSRP. It's encouraging to see that Toyota now seems able to meet demand.

Lastly, I also own a 4Runner. I'll drive it a lot less now that we've got the Prius, but when it's replaced it will be with a hybrid, likely a Highlander. Some SUV drivers don't care about fuel economy, but I think most do.

What I would like to know is, what happens when the batteries of the Prius start to fail? Will the owners buy a new battery pack for an old car (the warranty of the batteries lasts for 8 years) or will (can?) the Prius be used without the battery pack.

Any answers welcome.

Polly
The French and the Finnish are soon introducing a feebate system based on CO2 emissions with cars. To quote a story from AutoblogGreen “In France beginning at the start of 2008, any vehicle that emits more than 160 g/km of carbon dioxide will be charged a tax ranging from €200 up to a maximum of €2,600 for vehicles that emit of 250 g/km. Cleaner cars that put out less than 130 g/km will get €200 back with rebates increasing to a maximum of €1,000 for cars like the Smart and VW Polo BlueMotion that produce less than 100 g/km.”

http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/12/05/france-introduces-co2-tax-and-rebate-system-for-new-cars/

It is going to be very interesting to see how efficient this system is in changing the buying behavior towards less polluting vehicles that also help to reduce oil dependence. I think the effect will be large and much larger than a tax on fuel that involved a comparable amount of tax money over the lifetime of a car as this lump sum fee.


You do the same thing that happens when your clutch or auto transmission goes out (those are things the Prius doesn't have, BTW). Your fix or replace it. But fortunately that hasn't been much of a problem (the oldest hybrids are now 10 years old, and there are a couple of Priuses with over 200000 miles and no problems). Also, chances are you'll only have to replace a few cells, not the whole thing.

Hybrids won't work without a battery pack, but they will still work if a few of the many cells start to go bad.

Your concern about the batteries seems to be based on all the scare tactics from the anti-hybrid crowd. Hybrids have much higher reliability, resale values, and satisfaction ratings than typical cars.

Two of those hybrids (his and hers Priuses) are going to a neighbor of mine who is trading in a like-new Scion tC and a 3- or 4-year old Nissan Quest minivan.

He's an engineer with three kids. He did the math, looked at his kids and thought about their future, and then signed a couple of sales contracts.

Too bad we can't get more people to stop everything else they're doing and pay attention to energy and environmental issues for about 15 minutes. That's all it would take to start a stampede of customers toward the nearest hybrid dealers.

Hybrids aren't going away like that B movie, "The Brain that wouldn't die"!

I have always felt hybrid sales are driven more by supply. The demand is higher then the supply. If they produced 25% more hybrids next month they would sell them. Maybe not double but the demand still exceeds the supply. These cars simply do not build up on the lots.

The first hybrids to languish on the lots might be the GM models. Of course I think they will sell because the salespeople want to sell a $50k SUV and make a fat commission.

According to a friend who is a Toyota dealership mechanic, the Prius is far and away the least reliable car that Toyota currently sells. That is saying a lot, considering that Camry V6 transmissions have the life expectancy of a live hand grenade... He tells me that there are an unusually large number of TSB's and silent recalls for the Prius, which means that he ends-up working for half a day when you come in for a regular oil change.
As to what will happen to the batteries, the short answer is that Toyota doesn't want them, except in cases where the law says that they have to take them (warranty period). If you crash your car or are out of warranty for whatever reason, they will end-up in landfill (provided you can find a dump to take them). Toyota doesn't currently recycle the batteries, so they may yet end-up in landfill, leaking toxic chemicals into the water table.

If you haven't yet purchased a Prius, the environmentally sensible thing to do is to get a Corolla and spend the $6,000 you've saved on insulating your house, putting-up solar panels and planting a vegetable garden instead of a lawn. The downside is that you won't get as much bragging potential ("I am getting a better R value than George Clooney is.")


Hi Bernard,

The Prius battery uses nickel and caustic soda. These are not nearly as hazardous a lead and sulphuric acid in standard car battey. Indeed, nickel is also used to make eating stainless steel utensils, and caustic soda to make soap.

Think about that when your in the shower in ten years, washing with recycled Prius battery electrolyte soap, and eating breakfast with recycled Prius electrodes forks.

Bernard,
NiMH battery is not toxic: it does not contain Cadmium, only Nickel which is also expensive metal (~$5000/ton). You can make a lot of money if you know how to recycle this battery.

@Bernard comments,
Where did this stuff come from?
Toyota still has a $200 dollar bounty for all used battery packs as far as I know, so they are taking them in. The battery in the Prius has a phone number to call to Toyota's disposal program. Both Honda and Toyota have recyling programs in place. People are stealing catalytic converters for a lower price for the metal in them.

http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/environment/recycle/battery/index.html

Nickel is a usefull and valuable metal, in very short supply, which can be and is recycled. There was an article here in GCC, where a Japanese firm was testing a method of cryogenic breaking up and recovery of battery material that recovered 99% of the useful material. All batteries need to be recycled. What about the regular Pb-acid ones in cars? Why just concentrate on the ones in hybrids?

As for the TSB's and silent recalls. I've only remembering one recall for the Prius. It keeps being in the lists of better made cars. For the rest, just heresay. Let's see an actual article of proof on its quality. According to Consumer Reports the payback for the orginal NAm Prius is under 4 years with gas at $2/gallon the first 2 years $3 the third and $4 the fourth. What's the price of gas now?

According to an MIT lifecycle study, 80-85% of a vehicles pollution comes from the actual driving. If you have to drive and drive the average american amount (~10 500 miles/year) and plan on keeping it at least 4 years, getting a Prius will be a better choice.

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2004/fcvt_fotw306.html


@Chris,
The logic in the cars take care of recharging to optimize life. They are warrenteed 8-10 years, 150-200 thousand km. If they fail before that, then they get replaced at the manufacturers' cost. The batteries are not a long term energy storage solution and are not meant to be. They are for storage of braking energy and for use in boosting acceleration. In the Prius, they are only 6.5Ah, I believe. According to EPA testing, after 100000km, they have only 40-50% of their original capacity but the mileage doesn't really drop all that much in the PDF that I saw. Why? Because of the way it's being used. In any case, even by the time it fails, you can bet that the costs of any replacement would have dropped dramatically.

http://www.eaa-phev.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius_Battery_Specs

Hi, Andrey, may I ask you to add initial or something to your handle at GCC, or other vice it will be two Andreys commenting.

As for nickel, it current price is 26 000 $ per ton (down from 55000 per ton in May, and expected to rise back to no less than 35000), and there is no way NiMh batteries will not be recycled. It is, actually, required by law, same with regular lead acid batteries. Current rate of recycling of automotive lead batteries in US is 98%, and about the same recycling rate is achieved in all western countries. Old catalytic converter could be sold to recyclers for up to 100 bucks, the older converters have higher price due to higher content of Platinum group metals.

Metal recycling is extremely lucrative business, and practically all old cars are recycled with total recycling rate close to 95%; most of the waste is chemically inert glass.

As usual, even after seven years since first Hybrid was sold in the US, there are STILL a lot of myth and misinformation about hybrids.

At least the good news is that more and more people are owning hybrids and the usual BS that get posted in the comments will eventually get overwhelmed.

bernard wrote:
As to what will happen to the batteries, the short answer is that Toyota doesn't want them, except in cases where the law says that they have to take them (warranty period). If you crash your car or are out of warranty for whatever reason, they will end-up in landfill (provided you can find a dump to take them). Toyota doesn't currently recycle the batteries, so they may yet end-up in landfill, leaking toxic chemicals into the water table.
=====================
Where do you get your info from? What you wrote is simply incorrect. Toyota PAYS $200 for the old batteries and most auto recyclers know that. Thats alot of dough for an easy to get out item so they are basically all recycled.

Aym

Thanks for the answer and the link. My question wasn't meant critical at all. I just wanted to know whether there will be even more demand for batteries from such replacements. Like hampden wireless I suspect that supply, especially supply of batteries is the bottleneck factor here. While you can recycle the nickel in the batteries you can't yet recycle the lanthanium. China controls 95% of the available lanthanium (that's why GM goes to china now to produce hybrid cars) and their production can barely match the local demand.

Jack Lifton from Resource Investors wrote a good trilogy about rare earth recently. I think it's a good read.

http://www.resourceinvestor.com/pebble.asp?relid=16618

To answer two questions. As I clearly stated, I got my info from a Toyota dealership mechanic. This particular mechanic has been with the brand for over 20 years. I'll take his word over Wikipedia any day of the week. I should mention that this is in Canada, so Toyota warranties and policies may be different.

As for the hybrid payoff, fueleconomy.gov claims that the Prius will use roughly $500 less in fuel per year than a Corolla (which is the same size car). The Prius also lists at $6,000 more. That's a 12 year payoff before you figure-in interest (and higher maintenance for the hybrid). A four year payoff would imply that you are driving three times as much as the average American. That is possible, but by definition not typical.

Bernard,

You better re-check your numbers as you are FAR off the mark (on price)!

Prius has standard ABS, EBD & traction control which all require option C on a Corolla LE + automatic tranny gives a base price of roughly $18,000 to get similar equipment as the Prius or a $2900 difference. Stop cherry picking facts that don't line up just because you want to try to reinforce your point...I can do the same "cherry picking" tactic as follows:

Prius has more shoulder room than Corolla and Matrix.
Prius has more hip room than Corolla and Matrix.
Prius has more leg room than Corolla and Matrix.
Prius has 6 cubic feet more passenger volume than Corolla.
Prius has more luggage capacity than Corolla.

Yet I didn't specify if I meant front space, rear space, or both...but I cherry picked whatever facts I wanted to without lieing to reinforce the point I was trying to make. See how fun this can be?

Bernard: To use your source, fueleconomy.gov lists the Corolla as a compact, and the Prius as a midsize. They are NOT the same size. The Prius is closer in passenger volume to a Camry than it is to the Corolla, and has more trunkroom than either. Second, to get your $500 difference in fuel, and $6,000 difference in price, I see you're looking at the manual transmission. Otherwise, the difference in fuel usage rises to about $600, and the difference in price comes out to about $5600, which would give a non-discounted payback of 9 1/3 years Third, keep in mind that the Prius has a LOT more standard features.

If you take the Prius to be a model half way between a Corolla and a Camry, you get a difference in fuel usage of about $700 a year, and a difference in price of about $4000. So there you'd be looking at a non-discounted payback of 5.7 years.

Bernard is either a troll or just ignorant.

His claims about batteries are just WRONG, and comparing a Prius to a Corolla isn't right either. Ever tried fitting 2 people and 3 bikes inside a Corolla? NOT happening.

Sounds like a bad case of Prius envy. Try it sometime, and you might change your tune.

As for the TSBs...most apply to early 2004 models - it's normal for a new car to have extra issues. But do the TSBs mean it really has problems, or is Toyota fixing things preemptively under warranty to keep their customers happy?
Besides, Toyota pays dealers nicely for TSB/warranty work. A good mechanic can do jobs much faster than what they are typically listed as, so why is the mechanic complaining? Maybe he's not happy because after 20 years of doing the same things, he has to learn a few new thing about hybrids and doesn't like it.

The mechanic wasn't complaining (even though warranty work pay about half of what regular service pays). He was just stating his informed opinion that the Prius was the least reliable currently available Toyota. He sees every kind of Toyota on a daily basis and is a licensed, conscientious professional, so obviously the best thing to do is to call him ignorant...

As for the fact that you can pimp-up a Corolla to be nearly the same price as a Prius. You can pimp-up any car. Save it for pimpcarcongress ("How to be environmentally sensible without giving up plush velour seating").

According to Toyota's own data, the Prius and Corolla are within a few centimeters of each other in every significant dimension, with the Prius not always being the larger of the two. The only major difference is that the Corolla hatchback is not available in the US, so ultimate cargo space suffers. If this is a deal breaker, you should know that other makers offer hatches in this size. I used the Corolla in my example because it is also made by Toyota.

I stand by my original statement that you are better off getting the Corolla and spending the $6,000 difference making a real environmental difference. If you can't drive standard (perhaps you are an amputee), you can spend the $5,000 difference making a difference instead.

Bernard,

You are still putting out false information.

Pimped up Corolla? So standard equipment doesn't apply in your cost calculations? It is obvious you have no bearing on marketing/sales or Engineering of any type.

Now if they were from two different manufacturers and one were trying to get you to buy their car with more standard equipment at the same price...that would be different.

Hello, my name is Bernard and I prefer to compare apples and oranges because I do not know any better. A Corolla is a much better deal than a Porsche Turbo Carrera because look: The Corolla saves you $200 per horsepower purchased. Therefore, I can just go down the dragstrip or Laguna Seca 2 times to every 5 times you go around and get a better payback. Isn't it obvious that buying the sporty suspension and more powerful engine (XRS) for the Corolla is just pimping it up to try to match the performance of the Porsche? Obviously the dollar to horsepower ratio is much better in the Corolla. Look at me! Look at me!

Hybrids represent 14.5% of all Camry models sold.

That's a great stat for the best selling car. It shows that with proper supply and reasonable hybrid premium, 20% of all vehicles sold could be hybrids in a very short period of time.

JamesEE - you say that a lot of SUV drivers care about fuel economy. I think the problem (for some of them, at least) is that there are no options that provide significantly better fuel economy than an SUV, right now. Sure, you can get 40 mpg rather than 20 mpg if you switch to a Prius (depending on where you drive), but if you like your SUV, that might not be enough the justify the switch.

Once there are PHEVs and full EVs out, though, the advantages will be huge. I see at least a few 100 mpg plus PHEVs coming out in the next few years and at least one realistic replacement for an SUV in the form of a full EV coming out in the next few years. A switch from $80 fill-ups once a week to $40 fill-ups once a month or $2 charges once a week could make a HUGE difference for SUV drivers like that.

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