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Reported Sales of US Hybrids Drop 1.9% in September

Hybrid_sales_sep07_01
Total hybrid sales by month. Click to enlarge.

Reported sales of hybrids in the US dropped to an aggregate 22,859 units in September 2007, down 1.9% from September 2006. The reported figures do not include hybrid sales results from GM. Overall light duty vehicle sales in the US dropped 3% according to sales data from Ward’s.

The decline occurred despite the total net number of hybrid models on the market increasing to 10 from 9 in September 2006 (the addition of the Altima Hybrid and Lexus LS 600h being offset by the disappearance of the Honda Insight). The hybrid share of new vehicle sales stayed below the 2% mark at 1.75%. August results saw the hybrid share of new vehicle sales drop back below 2% for the first time since February 2007.

Hybrid_sales_sep07_02
Hybrid share of new vehicle sales. Click to enlarge.

Honda experienced the largest relative decline in September hybrid sales, dropping 20% to a combined 2,321 units. The Civic Hybrid posted 2,092 units, down 16.6% year-on-year. The Accord hybrid posted 229 units, down 41.1% year-on-year.

Toyota, as the hybrid market leader, showed the largest absolute drop in hybrid sales, down 3% to 18,130 units, with the losses coming mainly from the SUVs. The Prius, by contrast, had its best September yet, with 12,494 units, up 19.1% year-on-year. The Camry hybrid came in with 4,196 units, up 3.8% year-on-year.

Hybrid_sales_sep07_03
Toyota total hybrid sales dipped year-on-year. Click to enlarge.

The Lexus GS 450h posted 72 units, down 56.1% year-on-year, but the new high-end Lexus LS 600h L posted 196 units.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid saw its sales drop 91.8% to 193 units. Toyota last month had ascribed a dip in its hybrid sales to a temporary shortage of Highlander Hybrid units. The Rx 400h saw its sales drop 42% to 979 units.

Hybrid_sales_sep07_04
Prius sales remain up year-on-year. Click to enlarge.

However, Ford saw a very slight increase in combined sales of the hybrid Escape and Mariner—up 1 unit, or 0.1%, to 1,652 units. By contrast, overall Ford sales plunged 20.5% in September, year-on-year. (Sales to daily rental companies were down 62% and sales to individual retail customers were down 15%.)

Nissan, with its 8-state sales strategy, turned in 756 units of the Altima Hybrid in September.

Comments

lensovet

Great details, not-so-great numbers, though it's good to hear that the Prius is still going strong.
Mike, could you break out the percentages of hybrid models vs. total sales for the models that have both gasoline and hybrid variants (i.e. camry, civic, etc.)? Thanks!

tato

Unfortunately not too terribly surprising. While the cost-benefit seems to get better with time, it just ain't there yet. And, if folks are like me, considering a hybrid gets you to think about overall cost (not just gas alone), which leads you directly to other relatively fuel efficient options.

If you had asked me six months ago I would have sworn I'd buy a Prius or a Hybrid Civic because I wanted a fuel efficient economical commuter. When you consider the whole picture, though, there are more cost-effective alternatives. I ended up buying a Scion xD which cost me $15000 and is getting better than 35 MPG, and didn't even consider a hybrid (the other cars I considered were the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Mazda 3.)

Long and short: early adopters have all bought hybrids. Now they need to compete on total cost of ownership.

Tom

Stupid article.

Overall car sales were down 3-4% over the last year. So hybrid sales are down less than overall sales. So the percentage of hybrid sales has risen.

http://money.cnn.com/2007/10/02/news/companies/autosales/?postversion=2007100216

Did you think to factor in externalities?

Not just direct pollution but the impact of one more sold hybrid to the automakers and one less sold ice vehicle? Which will move our society towards sustainability?

Lou Grinzo

The cost/benefit analysis can be very discouraging. Like tato, I bought a Scion (the xA predecessor to tato's xD) in 2006. The combination of relatively good MPG (I average, with mild hypermiling, about 40 MPG), low car cost, and very low miles/year I drive (about 3,000), meant that a hybrid wasn't even close to being competitive.

My longer-term plan is to keep this car until at least 2012 and then replace it with an EV (he typed with crossed fingers), at which time I can feel superior to everyone who isn't walking or riding a bike.

Travis Rassat

The new Accord is no longer available as a hybrid, right? I know it wasn't a big seller, but that would explain why Accord hybrid sales are down so much.

wintermane

Around here the econ is sputtering out and going soar fast. Everyone is trapped is homes they boaught for 450k yjay now wont sell for 350l. So9 alot of people simply are golding onto old cars or getting old smaller cars to replace thier old big ones.

JamesEE

How much of the weak hybrid sales is due to the overall economy, and how much is caused by model-year changeover? I've been watching inventory at my local Toyota dealer for several months. Their stock of Prius's has recently increased from 6 cars to 18. That looks like a weak sales trend. 2008 Highlanders only recently arrived, but I haven't seen a hybrid version yet.

[Welcome back, Wintermane. I haven't seen any posts from you for a while. Did you get those cataracts fixed?]

Jorge

Some time ago it was posted in this site an article which says that there is a decrease trend in hybrid sales because of the increase trend in diesel car sales, and that, eventually, diesel cars sales will be greater than hybrid sales. So I think this is why VW of America is starting a strong diesel marketing campaign.

Elliot

VW also recenty said they were going to make hybrids out of their entire line. It really does look like the early adopters have theirs and are perhaps telling their friends to hold on for another advance, which if you look around GCC seems just around the corner.
Like almost everyone on here believes: it's time for plugins to come along and boost mpg and sales.

Karkus

We seem to have the same old illogical diesel vs hybrid comments coming up again.
So here's my point: Just because diesel sales go up (or down), doesn't mean the hybrid sales will go down (or up) significantly. Besides, the passenger car + SUV diesel sales numbers are so minuscule right now that they couldn't be affecting hybrid sales (not until next spring when the Jetta arrives).

But it's NOT really diesel vs. hybrid. Both are fuel efficient, but they attract slightly different buyers. Sure, there's a few Prius buyers who would have bought a diesel if there was a similar diesel in 2007, but for the most part, I don't think that's not the case.
Mostly it's about choice. If you give people more types of fuel efficient vehicles, with different strengths, body types, fuels, etc, overall sales will go up, because there's a greater chance the personal preferences of a buyer will be met by one of those vehicles.

Max Reid

I am really wondering why Prius did not sell more despite the MY-2008 which cost $1,200 less.

May be Toyota did not allocate more of this.
But for the RX400h, GS450h & Highlander, the reason is well known, environment conscious people dont want gas-guzzlers.

In order to stop the decline, Toyota may remove some extras in Prius and start selling more.

But the smaller hatchbacks are slowly gaining share and they will be an affordable choice for many cost conscious people especially if they dont travel a lot.

Around Year-2000, CUV's had only 2 % market share, today they were at 13 %. Someday, Hatchbacks may also gain so much.

Karkus

It sounds like the MSRP for a similarly equipped Prius is actually going to go up for 2008.

From ABG Jul 30:
"While Toyota says the total Prius average MSRP increases by $150 (0.7 percent), the low-end 2008 Prius is quite a bit cheaper ($1,225, to be exact)"

They lowered the base price by cutting options like cruise control, etc. (perhaps so they could advertise having the cheapest hybrid?).

But very few people buy the base price Prius anyway (in part because Toyota would rather make lots of loaded high profit ones), so that price "reduction" shouldn't affect sales much.

donee

Hi Max,

The 2008 model year cars did not start US delivery till well into September. But what, 19 percent improvement over the previous September, resulting in a record September for the car in any year of its sale is not a fantastic increase to you ?

I know I would miss my heated rear-view mirrors here in Chicagoland, but I can see why CA drivers may opt to not buy that option. A possibility that is available to them now.

wintermane

I, sti;; bind as a bat but with luck not for too many months more.

As die sales... people are now waiting fior the car of the future wich they now know is not a long off future.. meanwhile they make due.

With money tight its far better to short term make due with a used car or cheapo new car then it is to go hybrid when far vetter is only 3-5 years away.

Also everyone is wondering if gas prices will go up so high even a hybrid is too wpendy within just 8 years...

They would rather meet and greet the end of has with an OLD gascar then a new one.

Max Reid

I though 2008 Prius is already in the market.
Also is the low end standard model without Cruise Control, thats weird.

Even a 15K car has a cruise control. I thought Toyota must have removed extras like monitor, alloy wheels, etc.

Stan Peterson

Hybrid components are in short supply and capacity constrained. Its the end of the model year and many hybrid models have sold out their capacity.

With year end bargain hunting for non-selling models and heavy discounting, is it any surprise that Hybrid sales are off somewhat?

But even so, the sales figures for hybrids is off less than the industry as a whole.

lensovet

as i discovered myself, the new "cheaper" prius lacks basic features like cruise control, seatback pockets, heated mirrors, and the tonneau cover. with those things factored back into the price, it is actually more expensive by $150.

but as someone else mentioned, the '08 model won't be hitting most showrooms until later this month, if not this year.

Max Reid

May be the market is waiting for the MY-2008 which costs 1,200 less. Cruise control is definitely important, but for someone who is willing to sacrifice that for mileage, this will be a great car.

Lets see when it comes to the market. But I guess H-Highlander has already come to the market and is not selling well. Can anyone confirm.

John Schreiber

It is the model year thing IMHO. I could not find the '08 Prius in mid September, and there were quite a few of the '07s left. I think potential buyers were waiting to see about the price drop, (prius) at least those who were not trying to figure out how to keep their houses from the big bad wolf.

Kit P

As Lou and Tato pointed out there is a Catch 22 for cars with batteries. When I bought my 2007 Corolla, paying $6000 more for a Pius did not make the cost benefit cut. Unless you drive a lot of stop and go traffic, hybrids do not make economic sense.

Patrick

I'd compare a prius to the utility of a Toyota Matrix more so than a Corolla and calculate from there the difference in price (for similar equipment) and difference in gas mileage.

Max Reid

Yes, comparing Prius to Matrix makes sense as both vehicles are 5 door vehicles and both have lot of space compared to Corolla and more functional.

Pretty soon, the hatchback or shorter CUV's will start gaining market share.

So when the Prius-08 comes and Prius-07 is still unsold, then Toyota may sell them at a big discount, lets hope Oct-2007 is big sales month for Hybrid.

Emphyrio

"The Prius, by contrast, had its best September yet, with 12,494 units, up 19.1% year-on-year"

The Prius IS the hybrid. Nothing else compares. So in fact - Prius sales went up 19%. Honda and SUV hybrids - down the chute. Excellent news on the SUVs, Hondas can't compare to the Prius. Meanwhile, the whole US economy is going down the tubes,dollar falling off a cliff, subprime fraudulent scam coming home to roost.

Pretty impressive I'd say to get 19% increase in Prius sales with the next Great Depression now looming.

Emphyrio

"The Prius, by contrast, had its best September yet, with 12,494 units, up 19.1% year-on-year"

The Prius IS the hybrid. Nothing else compares. So in fact - Prius sales went up 19%. Honda and SUV hybrids - down the chute. Excellent news on the SUVs, Hondas can't compare to the Prius. Meanwhile, the whole US economy is going down the tubes,dollar falling off a cliff, subprime fraudulent scam coming home to roost.

Pretty impressive I'd say to get 19% increase in Prius sales with the next Great Depression now looming.

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