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US Sales of Hybrids Down 50% in November

9 December 2008

Us_hybrid_sales_2008nov1
Monthly hybrid sales in November were the lowest since February 2006. Click to enlarge.

Reported US sales of hybrids dropped 50% in November to 16,571 units from November 2007—a volume slightly above that of November 2005. Overall light duty vehicle sales in the US in November dropped 36.7%. (Earlier post.) For November, hybrids represented 2.22% of the new vehicle light duty market; year-to-date, hybrids hold a 2.4% share of new vehicle sales. November 2007 and 2008 had the same number of selling days.

Toyota. Sales of the market-leading Prius were down 48.3% to 8,660—its lowest sales month since January 2007. Camry Hybrid sales were off 57.5%, down to 2,174 units. That accounted for 8.6% of all Camry sales. Total Camry sales for the month were down 28.8%. Sales of the Highlander Hybrid were down 64.8% to 907 units, representing 11.5% of all Highlander models sold. Total Highlander sales were down 35.9% in the month.

Us_hybrid_sales_2008nov2
Hybrid new vehicle sales market share. Click to enlarge.

The Lexus Rx 400h posted 624 units, a drop of 62.7% from the year before, and representing 10.7% of all Rx models sold. Total Rx sales were down 27.2%. The GS 450h posted 42 units, a 58% drop from the year before, and representing 4.2% of all Gx models sold. Total Gx sales were down 45.4% in November. The LS 600h sold 37 units, a 78.2% drop from the year before, representing 8.7% of all Lx models sold.

Ford. Ford posted combined sales of the Escape and Mariner hybrid of 1,361 units, a 38.8% drop from the prior year, and representing 11.4% of all Escape and Mariner models sold in the month. Combined sales all Escape and Mariner models dropped 17.9% in November.

Us_hybrid_sales_2008nov3
Hybrids as a component of brand sales. Click to enlarge.

GM. GM posted a combined 1,335 hybrid units in November. The company sold 767 units of the two-mode hybrid versions of the Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade full-size SUVs, representing 9.3% of total model sales for those vehicles.

GM posted 328 units for the Saturn VUE Green Line Hybrid (BAS), representing 9.7% of all VUE sales. The company sold 195 units of the Malibu BAS hybrid, representing 2.1% of all Malibus sold, and 45 units of the Saturn Aura BAS hybrid.

Us_hybrid_sales_2008nov4
Hybrid sales as a percentage of total light-duty vehicle sales by OEM. Click to enlarge.

Honda. Honda sold 1,043 units of the Civic Hybrid, a 67.8% drop from the year before, representing 5.9% of all Civics sold. Total Civic sales were down 29.6% for the month. Honda posted no sales of the Accord Hybrid; in November 2007, it had sold 204 units.

Nissan. Nissan sold 353 units of the Altima Hybrid, a 70.4% drop from the prior year, representing 3.3% of all Altima models sold. Total Altima sales dropped 45.3% in the month.

Chrysler. In the first month of reported sales, Chrysler posted 35 units of the Aspen and Durango two-mode hybrid SUVs, representing 1.0% of combined model sales.

December 9, 2008 in Hybrids, Sales | Permalink | Comments (44) | TrackBack (0)

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This seems to be saying that green cars won't save the auto industry anytime soon. Maybe long term industry job losses of at least 50% are unavoidable. I've suggested before that CNG refits to the millions of late model and unsold SUVs might help, but that is a job for workshops not assembly lines. As of now more factory closures look certain so perhaps after a couple of years of the Green New Deal it might be clearer who will be able to buy new cars and what type of car they want.

EU will like this very much because CO2 emission is going to be decreased.

It's probably better to look at the market share than the total volume - with a price premium on hybrids and fuel costs plummeting, short-term economics could be expected to depress the hybrid market share with respect to normally fuelled vehicles.

However, looking at the market share, hybrids held up well month-on-month - the percentage drop year-on-year looks to be more due to an anomalously high November 2007 figure than it does anything else.

It's doesn't matter what car you buy if you can't get credit. The TARP was supposed to get banks loaning money again, but it seems the banks aren't trying to loan you anything.

The problem with ‘green’ cars is that they are more expensive and do not reduce the environment impact of driving. This is called green washing. Car manufacturers use different tactics to get consumers to spend more. While I can respect car manufacturers for wanting to make a profit, I only have contempt for poorly informed consumers.

HEV have been around long enough for a LCA to document the benefits of real world driving conditions. Most of you know the practical ways of reducing fuel consumption:

• Not driving aggressively
• Not carrying extra weight
• Living close to work
• Car pooling

If you practice these habits, HEV will not improve your fuel consumption significantly to justify the added costs.

While hauling batteries around is a spectacularly bad idea, ethanol is reducing the environment impact of driving and providing other benefits. Case specific LCA have been posted on GCC providing data that allows a debate about the benefits.

Kit,

You're saying that ethanol is better than BEV? Are you clinically insane?

With year-over-year reductions in hybrids being greater than the drop in overall light-duty vehicles, and all else being equal, I can only assume that customers are not enjoying the hybrid 'experience'. it's time to get higher performance vehicles into the PHEV marketplace because people that can afford performance can afford hybrid.

Test comment for support purposes.

The problem is people are trying most of all to save MONEY right now as they have very little of it and a great many of em KNOW they are going to be homeless or jobless in 2 years.. so no new cars in works.

Also everyone knows far better cars will have to come out in 5-10 years so realy unless you hate or MUST replace your old car why buy now?

"far better cars will have to come out in 5-10 years so realy unless you hate or MUST replace your old car why buy now?"

How true. Cars have already gotten much better, and last much longer, than they did 30 years ago. The recent downturn forced many people to revisit their old habit of replacing every few years like everybody HAD to back in the day.

BTW, the credit crunch is overblown. As a test, in the last 60 days I applied for 3 credit cards and got instant approval for all three. I'm not going to use them, I just wanted to see how things actually worked getting new credit. I also can get a 100% car loan at 5.5% and I'm STILL not going to buy now- my current 11 year old car works just fine. THAT is Detroit's problem.

It looks like there will be hybrids on the lot with incentives come time I let the moths fly out my wallet (I'll pay cash). :)

• Not driving aggressively
• Not carrying extra weight
• Living close to work
• Car pooling

If you practice these habits, HEV will not improve your fuel consumption significantly to justify the added costs.

I don't car pool, but do the others. My 1st car - Cadillac Catera cost ~$29,000. 19mpg. Something would break on it every 6 weeks.
Next car: Prius. Cost: $24,000. 55mpg (range is 47mpg to 65mpg over the past 2yrs). I like the Prius as a car more than the Caddy. (no more GM for me). Sure I could have bought a Corolla for less money, but I don't want to drive a corolla.

I'd be interested to see the number of hybrid cars built, but not sold. I have a feeling (with the Prius and Escape Hybrid at the very least) that this has to do more with a shortage of batteries than the cars not being sold.

Meantime, ethanol is powering the equivalent of 20 Million U.S. autos.

It's doesn't matter what car you buy if you can't get credit. The TARP was supposed to get banks loaning money again, but it seems the banks aren't trying to loan you anything.

Please site your source(s) for this. I have found no (zero, zip, nada) sources that claim that people are going into car dealers wanting to buy cars but told to go away because the dealer/bank won't give them a loan. Multiple sources showing that people are told to go away will be helpful to the discussion. Or, was that made up for dramatic effect?

Jer wrote:

"I can only assume that customers are not enjoying the hybrid 'experience'. it's time to get higher performance vehicles into the PHEV marketplace because people that can afford performance can afford hybrid."

A short term drop in hybrid sales is only indicative of the current low gas prices. Few are naive enough to believe they will stay that low unless the recession deepens and lengthens (in which case even fewer cars will be purchased).

I'd say this is the time to really shine with energy efficiency technology, and have cars developed that will exceed 65mpg. Indeed, this has already been the case with the GM Precept, Ford Prodigy, and Chrysler ESX-III, though Bush killed the PNGV program that was incubating them.

TM:

GM general manager is saying the same thing about poor GM quality.

Hybrid sales:

Americans are not buying many new cars these days. This also applies to higher price Hybrids.

With the arrival of much lower cost Honda Hybrids and Prius Gen III units in early 2009, sales should pick up again, specially if the economic turmoils, created by the current administration policies, turn around.

Much lower cost BYD PHEVs could help to increase the momentum for more efficient vehicles from early 2010 onwards.

Interesting, post recession days ahead.

I am still waiting for the Next Generation Prius, in 2009. The mileage on this model will no doubt be at least 5-10% better, so why buy now?

And, with Honda's new Insight Hybrid, which I am guessing will hit 50mpg highway, at Thousands less than a Prius, why not wait and compare?

Where does GM, Ford or Chrysler fit into my life? Not really anywhere. Unless something bad happens and I have to ride in an Ambulance.

Nate H.
Dover, Ohio

Nate and Harvey have it right.

The problem with the hybrid market is that it's made-up 50% of one model, the Prius, which is due to be replaced within a month. On top of that, Honda has announced a cheaper hybrid that will be here early next year.

Buying the current Prius doesn't make any sense because you will lose more on depreciation than you will save on gas. Think about it, how much would you pay for the current Prius in three years relative to a next generation Prius (which is supposedly better in every way)?
The new Insight will also undoubtedly outperform the current Prius. Being a Honda, it will also have a better finish and better handling.

Unless you find a great deal, or your current car has died, there is no good reason not to wait until 2009 before buying a Prius-type hybrid.

...or you could wait for the new Prius and Insight to come out and then grab an old Prius or Civic Hybrid at a bargain I'm sure

This is only a temporary blip, in part due to buyer waiting for 2009 models of the Prius and Insight. The Prius made up the bulk of hybrid sales, and if I'm a potential buyer, I would wait also.

The cost differential of HEV vs non-HEV will be coming down further and further, and I predict that, eventually, there will be no cost differential at all...the point in time that all new vehicles will be HEV's.

@kit
• Not driving aggressively
• Not carrying extra weight
• Living close to work
• Car pooling

If you practice these habits, HEV will not improve your fuel consumption significantly to justify the added costs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One thing about the Prius is that it has a fuel consumption display that is set in the middle of the dashboard; it shows you your average and current MPG while you are driving. THAT, more than anything else, can improve your mileage because you can see instantly what your driving habits are doing to your fuel consumption.

It's a feature that every carmaker could include and it should be on every new car: failing that - an aftermarket Scangauge can be bought for ~$100. It will save you more gas - for less money -than anyother tech out there. Why buy a hybrid at this time when you could do this to your old car now?

ai_vin:

A very good point about fuel consumption displays. When I was driving a Prius I also noted the regen energy display and began to seek out routes including downhills. There is something satisfying to a green geek (I being one) when you can see the positive effect of technology choices.

We should also note this report shows Toyota's sales down 48% at the same time. People are not buying until new model years and a bit more stabilization arrives from the changed admin.

Hey Pablo (I have a feeling (with the Prius and Escape Hybrid at the very least) that this has to do more with a shortage of batteries than the cars not being sold.).

As far as I know there isn't a shortage of batteries, but their production has to be planned a year or two in advance (there's no increasing production this year while demand is up etc. unlike regular vehicle production). It's a pacing item for hybrids.

Ford only produces 25,000 Escapes a year (below demand), just like they did last year and the year before that, but its not due to battery restrictions - they build the Hybrid on the same line as the regular version and make more money on the regular version (they stated previously they could get more batteries if they wanted, they just want to make more money). Ford has been stating they're increasing hybrid production by 100% this 2009, but that's only because they'll produce 25,000 Fusion Hybrids - seems like the same calculated choice there as well (it comes off the same line as the normal version).

Toyota only makes as many as the number of batteries are made as well (which they have to decide a year or two in advance, that's why they couldn't increase production this last year). Next year they're supposed to increase Prius production / battery production by 50% (150,000), although we'll see if they do that now - with what's happening to the markets (and Honda dropping 200,000 Insights in their market niche). Will probably be a good year to get a good price on a Hybrid, if anyone can stomach doing it while they wonder if they're job will still be around in the next 6 months.

For the 1st time, Honda has been pushed to 4th place by Ford and GM getting 2nd & 3rd place respectively.

Next year, more hybrids are coming from Ford & GM, but Honda Insight is supposed to be the star even beating out Prius. Prius Gen-III is not the great vehicle as expected, it will give less mileage.

All depends on the World's economy. I think the higher oil prices have done maximum damage to world economy.

Automakers should sell the Hybrids with very little premium, otherwise they will simply suffer loss.

Max,

When you say the "Prius Gen-III, is not the great vehicle as expected, it will give less mileage". Less mileage than what? Less than Gen-II Prius or less than the new Insight? What inside information do you have on this?

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