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R. L. Polk & Co. Analysis of Hybrid Sales Suggests Segment Affinity Among Hybrid Buyers

The top 10 metro markets for hybrids in 2007. Click to enlarge.

Nationwide registrations for new hybrid vehicles rose to 350,289 registrations in 2007—a 38% increase from 2006, according to R. L. Polk & Co. The Toyota Prius continued to lead the segment with 179,178 total new registrations—51.2% of hybrid market share.

Polk’s analysis shows that buyers of specific hybrid models predominantly come from the vehicle segment shared by their new hybrid purchase. In 2007, 55% of new hybrid buyers previously had a midsize car, midsize SUV or small car model. These vehicle segments represent the majority of the volume in the hybrid category and indicate consumers may be predisposed to a body style first before choosing a hybrid model, according to Polk.

In cases such as the Lexus LS600h, more than half of these buyers came from the prestige luxury segment. In the case of Honda Civic hybrid buyers, nearly 30 percent already had a small car in their driveway. There’s a strong relationship between the vehicle previously owned and the segment they may buy when selecting a hybrid.

—Lonnie Miller, director of Industry Analysis at Polk

For manufacturers’ marketing departments, these findings mean they may be able to repurpose some of the brand research and customer studies for non-hybrid models when creating new hybrid offerings or hybrid marketing campaigns.

Geographic trends for the segment remain largely unchanged in 2007, with California continuing to hold 26% of hybrid market share followed by Florida, New York, Texas and Washington. For the second year in a row, Oklahoma had the greatest increase, up nearly 148%. Similarly, Los Angeles and San Francisco led cities nationwide combined with more than 19% of the segment’s market share.

R. L. Polk Top 10 Hybrid States (2007 Calendar Year)
Rank State Total New Hybrid Reg Share of US Hybrid Vol. (%) Vol. Increase from 2006 (%)
1 California 91,417 26.1 35.4
2 Florida 19,283 5.5 49.5
3 New York 17,385 5.0 49.4
4 Texas 17,196 4.9 37.0
5 Washington 13,107 3.7 51.5
6 Illinois 13,094 3.7 37.9
7 Virginia 11,952 3.4 14.6
8 Pennsylvania 11,089 3.2 31.9
9 Massachusetts 9,982 2.8 35.5
10 New Jersey 9,645 2.8 36.1
R. L. Polk Top 10 Hybrid Metro Markets (2007 Calendar Year)
Rank Market Total New Hybrid Reg Share of US Hybrid Vol. (%) Vol. Increase from 2006 (%)
1 Los Angeles 40,634 11.6 31.1
2 San Francisco 27,292 7.8 32.3
3 New York 20,692 5.9 45.2
4 Washington D.C. 12,744 3.6 12.2
5 Seattle 11,098 3.2 53.2
6 Chicago 10,611 3.0 39.2
7 Boston 10,438 2.8 14.6
8 Philadelphia 8,670 2.5 26.4
9 Sacramento 7,871 2.2 59.9
10 Phoenix 7,829 2.2 85.4


Hybrid fan

"consumers may be predisposed to a body style first before choosing a hybrid model"

Do tell. That's why while I am a Hybrid fan, I do not yet have one in my garage. As soon as a Prius wagon, or perhaps a Hybrid RAV4 comes out, I'll buy one. Something like the Hybrid Escape, only not made by Ford. (And no, Mercury, and Mazda don't count) 2/3rds of a Highlander would be good, also.

richard schumacher

Anyone have a pointer to hybrid sales data per capita for the largest metro areas?



Go to and look up the populations by MSA (metropolitan statistical area). Probably just stick to number of households and you can get reasonably close unless you really want to go through and find registered vehicles, number of licensed drivers, etc (which would require going to each state or county of the MSA for numbers).


This is important information for the car company marketing departments. We try to connect consumption with production, but since it is never known what people will do, it is a guessing game. This gives them some insight into what will sell, to whom and where.

I have thought that it would be better to ask the people what they want and what they intend to do. With today's internet, people could project their plans and preferences. We could then plan next years production with better accuracy. We do something like this with surveys and focus groups, but what people say they like and what they end up doing can be different.


Scroll down on the following page, and there's market data for new hybrids per 1,000 residents. Looks like DC led the way in March '08...


Do their conclusions sound a bit contrived to anyone but me? Of course people who like (and can afford) luxury are going to buy luxury, and if you are used to a smaller car than you're more likely to buy another. But the percentages quoted tell the exact opposite story. Only 30% of Civic Hybrid buyers previously had a car in that size segment! That means 70% are coming from a vehicle of a different, probably larger, sized vehicle. Overall, only 55% of ALL hybrid buyers for 2007 are from the same size segment. If buyers where staying in the same segment, wouldn't the percentages be a lot higher? To me, this sounds like people are downsizing in droves! Am I missing something?


A correlation between fuel prices and average yearly mileage driven by buyer for each of the areas against buying trends might be more useful. I'd be willing to bet that hybrids sell best where fuel costs most. But then again that's quite as obvious as the studies conclusions that people in the market for a medium sized car are the ones most likely to buy a medium sized hybrid, and it didn't cost anything like what I'm sure Polk&Co. probably is charging for the details of their report.


Consider where a hybrid is best, in stop and go city traffic. Consider where they are selling best, in LA, SFO, NY and DC.


Does anyone know where I can data on the average selling price of hybrids? Monthly or daily data? Or at the very least the MSRP on average of hybrids. Doesn't matter if its just one model or make.

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