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Reported US Sales of Hybrids Down 27% in June; Share of New Vehicle Sales Down to 2.1%

Reported hybrid sales by monthly volume. Click to enlarge.

Reported US sales of hybrids took a 27% dive in June 2008 to 24,917 units from 34,300 units in June 2007 as Toyota continued to struggle with limited availability of the Prius. The Prius sold 11,765 units in June 2008, down 34% from June 2007. June 2008 had 24 selling days, compared to 27 in June 2007.

Total light-duty vehicle sales in the US dropped 18.3% by volume in June to 1,189,108 units, according to Autodata, with sales of passenger cars dropping 7.9% and sales of light trucks dropping 28.4%. Reported hybrid sales represent 2.1% of new vehicle sales for the month.

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

Toyota. In addition to the Prius results, Toyota reported a 45% drop in sales by volume of the Camry hybrid year-on-year, with 3,054 units sold in June 2008, representing 7.3% of all Camrys sold. Total Camry sales were down 11% by volume in June 2008, although up .3% on a day sales rate basis.

The Highlander Hybrid posted 1,511 units, a 37% drop year-on-year, representing 22% of all Highlanders sold.

The Lexus Rx 400h sold 1,330 units, a 15% drop, representing 22.9% of all Rx models sold in the month. The GS 450h sold 73 units, a 44% drop, representing 6% of all GS models. The top-end LS 600h also sold 73 units, representing 4.8% of all LS models.

Hybrid sales as a component of brand sales. Click to enlarge.

Honda. In contrast to the performance of all the other major automakers, Honda set a new June sales record in 2008 with a total increase of 1.1% by volume and 13.8% on a day sales rate to 142,539 units. The sales gains did not come from Honda’s hybrids, however, which combined, dropped 24% by volume.

The Honda Civic Hybrid posted 2,710 units, a 17% drop year-on-year, representing 6.8% of all Civics sold. Total Civic sales increased 9.5% by volume to 39,967, a new June record. The Honda Accord Hybrid sold 7 units, a 98% drop year-on-year, representing .02% of all Accords sold. Total Accord sales leapt up 37% by volume in June to 39,704 units.

Hybrid sales as a percentage of total sales. Click to enlarge.

The other strong gainer for Honda in June was the conventionally-powered, fuel-efficient Fit, which almost doubled its sales to 10,003 units from 5,613 units in June 2007. The June 2008 sales are the Fit’s best month yet.

Ford. Combined reported sales of the Escape and Mariner Hybrids were 1,912 units in June 2008, a 24% drop year-on-year, representing 10.6% of all Escape and Mariner models sold. Total sales of all Escape and Mariner models took a 21% hit in June 2008 year-on-year.

Nissan. Nissan reported 1,333 units of the Altima Hybrid sold, an increase of 66% year on year, representing 1.8% of all Altima models sold. Total Altima models took a 5.4% dip in June 2008 to 24,541 units.

GM. GM reported a combined 1,149 hybrids sold in June 2008. The Tahoe/Yukon two-mode posted 547 units, representing 3.8% of all models sold. The three models with the GM Hybrid System (Belt-Alternator Starter), sold a combined 602 units: the Saturn VUE hybrid sold 277 units (3.1% of total); the Chevy Malibu hybrid sold 295 units (2.2% of total); and the Saturn Aura hybrid sold 30 units (0.5% of total).



With wait times back up to 3-6 weeks for the Prius, and Toyota's production numbers "stuck", it looks like people in other countries are deciding the Prius is the car to buy.
I'm hoping the US numbers would have been much higher if all of the car manufacturers were able to make more hybrids.
Then again, people might be going with the cheaper car with the economic times being tough.


With the runup in gas prices I'm floored by the lack of Hybrid sales as they plummeted with the rest of the auto industry.

However, the Honda Fit & Hyundai Accent skyrocketed from two months before. The Toyota Yaris dipped somewhat from May 2008, but Yaris had a tremendous runup in April & May 2008. People think to themselves, 'I don't want to pay much for a car for which I don't have to pay much for gasoline.'


Finally, sales for the nice efficient, well thought-out Honda Fit have leaped to where sales should be. The Hyundai Accent, with weak sales(2-3000) in the months & years previously, saw May 2008 sales hit 4000 & June sales hit 6900+ cars! Been spinning the wheels of my wife's Accent about the territory, getting 41.5 to 42.6 MPG in 4000 to 5500 foot mountain passes & 45 MPG on flatter terrain. Geesh, saving $40 per tank full. If you do a lot of driving you could save $2000 per for the Accent in 5 years! I've seen Accents for sale for $9000.


Interesting that the oil price / economy car ratio is so bad. Somehow the American market does not see the gas price as a motivator to buy fuel efficient vehicles. Could this poke a hole in the carbon tax concept?

With Toyota being the darling of hybrids - I'd expect more sales, in spite of the shorter selling days.


Good low total cost for the Accent, I'll agree.

My Prius cost quite a bit more, (~$24,000). We've shifted most of our driving to the Prius putting on ~1500 miles per month. Only getting ~55mpg during the hot Phoenix summer, but when it cools off, I can get in the mid 60s. Its nice to get 500+ miles on a fillup costing $35-$40. Was nicer when that fillup only cost $20.

Need to get more of these on the road and move SUVs off the road


Get off the floor litesong, this totally due to lack of availability. Friends of ours had their car totaled and went to buy a Prius. They were told 5 weeks if they wanted to pick their color. They came home with a fully loaded Fit because they needed a car now and it was on the lot.


Numbers about the Fit should not even be compared. Production last year was low for Fit's headed to the US. Something Honda usually does for a new model. You couldn't find a Fit last June. I tried.


It seems like hybrids are not yet a mature market if a single model accounts for roughly half of all sales.

Given the economic outlook, people are buying less expensive, more efficient cars. The Prius (and all other current hybrids) only checks the second box in that shopping list, so it won't really benefit. On top of that, it is rumored to be near the end of its production life, which is bad for resale values (especially if Honda does release a "cheap" hybrid next year).

Hybrids would do better if the economic outlook improves while gas prices remain high.
They would do a lot better if there was a wider range of competitively priced models on offer.


Sales are down because they just don't have any more to sell. I'm glad I got my Suzuki Burgman 400 scooter last April. All the scooter shops around here are sold out, and all the incoming scoots are spoken for.


There are lots of things to be floored about in this report. One thing that stood out to me was the comparison between Honda Civic Hybrid versus Honda Fit. Civic Hybrid saw a sales decrease, while Fit saw a sales increase. The only reason I can see is that Fit is a much less expensive offering, therefore wins during this economic slow-down.

Assuming this is the case, then Honda's less expensive hybrid car should be popular when it arrives.


When a car costs 5 or more grand a year just to own the fuel cost has to ve rather massive to outweigh the car cost differential.

The BEST way to save money is to keep your car beyong its last payment. And after ot finaly goes splat most people now cant get the cred for a new car or cant get enough cred to manage a costly htbrid... this not only so we see a flood of NORMAL cars offering 35 mpg we also see alot of CHEAPcars advertised now.

Also alot of people are waiting on better cars and just either going used or sticking with the old car. Because all these cars either have short short range or they use fossil fuel and everyone KNOWS now that fossil fuel is... iffy.


There's a lesson to be learned for electric cars as well. Unless electric cars are cheap to buy (and not just run), people won't be able to afford them.

After all, you can always skip a gas payment (take the bus), or drive less, or put in a few bucks to last you 'til payday, but if you skip a car payment you are in trouble.

Roger Pham

The most worrisome thing here is the limited availability of HEV in comparison to last year, a whopping ~24% drop. It has been reported in the media that battery supply is what holding back production of hybrids. A sharp decline in battery supply in spite of red hot demand world-wide has got to come from shortage of raw material. I've heard rumor here in GCC that China is holding back on export of Lanthanum, a vital material for NiMh production.

This does not bode well for the future of BEV's nor PHEV's, since a HEV requires 1/10 to 1/20 the battery size of a PHEV and BEV, respectively.


Bernard & Lulu...Ditto!

Joseph...Partially agree with you about Hybrid availability. However, everyone looking for an unavailable Hybrid Prius isn't immediately buying a Fit.
Many people wait 5 weeks to get new cars.

A lot of people who have turned away from traditional truck & SUV purchases are looking first at small cars(uncomplicated with those Hybrid drives) like Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Mazdas, Fit & Accent. They may even look at the nice American Dodge Caliber.


I wonder what the numbers look like in the UK and elsewhere that doesn't have the economic woes of the US, if hybrid sales are increasing because of higher consumer confidence and willingness to invest an extra $5000 for the hybrid option as a hedge against future oil price rises. I think in the US, right now people are just looking at the price tag only, worried more about economic survival than optimism for the future.


So it's well known that the Prius was just about impossible to get in June.

What other hybrids were also hard to get? I haven't heard of any shortages of Camry hybrids, Civic hybrids, or Escape/Mariner hybrids where every single one has less market share when compared to it's non-hybrid counterpart (OK, the Escape/Mariner was very close).


@Roger Pham

Right on the money as usual




TOKYO: Toyota is struggling to keep up with booming demand for hybrid vehicles because it is unable to make enough batteries that are key components of the popular "green" cars, a senior executive said Monday.
The battery crunch is likely to continue for the rest of the year, since new lines cannot be added to increase production until 2009, said Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president of Toyota Motor, who oversees production at the leading Japanese automaker.

"Last year at this time we required incentives to move the Prius that were accumulating in dealer stock and it was a big month. While the numbers are off for the month compared to last year, we ended the month with less than one day supply. You can see that our business is ahead of last year and we are constrained by battery supply on a global basis. With the plant announcements to increase battery production we should be on course to reach the next level with annual Hybrid production."

Dave, an Escape/Mariner hybrid is almost impossible to find. I would have bought one by now. An Altima hybrid is only offered in 8 states. Not sure on the Camry availability.

litesong, 45mpg from an Accent? Maybe downhill. EPA says different, 27/32.


It may be lack of availability. The Escape, Mariner and Tribute hybrid SUVs are not on many lots and the ones that are there have a markup well over $34k.

Also, people using their home refinancing as a piggy bank to buy new cars is over. No more happy days on more debt.


Availability isnt the only problem, in the LA area you pay $4-5k dealer ripoff charge over the MSRP if you can find or order a prius. Even a used prius sells for more than it sold for initially. Civic hybrids only carry a $2k ripoff charge over msrp. it makes more sense to spend $10k less and get something efficient to drive for the next 3 years until honda and toyota produce their world beaters ( and GM's corrects the Volt's problem of bursting out in flames for no particular reason)


fred: Volt in flames? ... link please. Haven't heard anything of the sort. The only PHEV fire I've read about was a converted Prius ... and that was the charger, not the battery.


"I wonder what the numbers look like in the UK and elsewhere that doesn't have the economic woes of the US"

in case you hadn't noticed, economy in the UK is not doing too well at the moment either.


fred, high markup and low availability are really the same thing. One caused the other. In January I negotiated over $4K off MSRP on my hybrid.


Roger Pham - yes, I suspect that Cobalt supply is the main constraint on increasing NiMH production, particularly with consumer LiIon batteries also Cobalt dependent. See "Cobalt News".


Availability is not the full explanation. Sure Prius and GM models are in short supply due to battery supply. However, there is still a pricing problem.

In the US Prius and other hybrids have a reasonable (not too high) premium comapred to non-hybrids. Even then, you have a choice between a Corolla's 40 mpg/$14K and Prius 55 mpg/$24K which is a big delta.

However, going outside the US things are far worse. I don't know about Europe so I can only speak for Canada. Base Prius price was about $30K!!!!! Civic hybrid was only about $1K-$2K less. By the time you include all the extras it is well over $35K!!!

I juct checked them yesterday and seems base prices dropped by about $3K; still too high. So if you think Prius is too expensive for Americans, it is far worse in other countires. Therefore, hybrid sales are the strongest in the US and will remain anemic elsewhere for a long time to come.

Not to mention that most poorer countries will simply rely on small cheap motorcycles doing 100mpg.

Therefore you shouldn't expect any real volume from non-US any time soon. Even considering Europe, you can get about the same efficiency from a small 1.3L diesel engine, which is what many cars there have. Batteries are just not useful.

So in terms of US, this picture makes a perfect sense. Even now after several years supplies are limited, so US buyers for the most part just won't wait. Remember all the die hard efficiency geeks already have their hybrid car. Most of the buyers these days are switching from trucks and SUVs. They just want to buy less fuel and don't care what kind of car it is. In fact, they'll be more likely to go with conventional as they don't trust newfangled hybrids ;)

Thus it doesn't take much for them to walk away from Prius. Supply limited? High price? No discounts? no financing? Forget it.

Meanwhile Civic have a solid long term reputation for fuel efficiency. They are cheap and built in quantity so that most places have them.

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