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US Sales of Hybrids Down 8.9% in September

Us_hybrid_sales_20080901
Monthly reported sales of hybrids in the US. Click to enlarge.

Reported sales of hybrids in the US dropped 8.9% by volume to 20,836 units in September 2008 year-on-year—the lowest September sales volume since 2005. Overall sales of light duty vehicles in the US in September dropped 26.6% year-on-year. (Earlier post.) September 2008 had 24 selling days, compared to 25 selling days last September. Hybrids had a 2.2% new vehicle market share for the month.

Toyota. September sales of the Prius dropped 13% to 10,873 from the year prior on continuing limited availability. Sales of the Camry Hybrid were down 33.6% to 2,785 units year-on-year, representing 9.4% of all Camry models sold in the month. Total Camry sales were down 27% by volume to 29,486 units from the year before. Sales of the Highlander Hybrid rose substantially year-on-year to 921 units, up from 193 in September 2007. Hybrids represented 16.1% of all Highlander sales. Total Highlander sales dropped 30% to 5,729 units.

Us_hybrid_sales_20080902
Monthly new vehicle market share for hybrids. Click to enlarge.

The Lexus Rx400h posted 744 units, a drop of 24% from the year before, representing 16.0% of all Rx models sold. Total Rx sales were down 40% to 4,639 units. The high-end LS 600h hybrid sold 47 units, a 76% drop from the year before, and representing 3.8% of all LS models sold. LS sales dropped 58% to 1,238 units. The GS 450h sold 29 units, a 60% drop, representing 3.0% of all GS models sold. GS sales dropped 41% to 977 units.

Asked about the on-going limited availability of the Prius that has affected sales for months, a Toyota spokesperson said:

We continue to work closely with our supply base to find ways to increase production and supply, but demand for Prius is just far ahead of the production capacity right now. The current lack of Prius in the pipeline is due to a product plan based on our overall production limitations at the Prius factory. We are currently running at full capacity and have been for two years.

We said all along that we’d have a ceiling of 170K for Prius in the US this year. [Prius sales in the US through September are 130,563 units.] With production capacity capped, we matched that number with the production of key components, such as hybrid transaxles, control modules and batteries. To the point, the shortage in Prius is not just batteries, but a well-orchestrated, highly-efficient production system.

Given the market shifts, we’re working to right-size our inventory and build to meet market needs. Through our joint venture with Panasonic Energy EV, we’re working to significantly expand hybrid battery production, with plans for 1 million battery supply at the start of the 2010s.

We’re also adjusting our production mix at our US plants, including building Prius in Mississippi in late 2010 to stay in line with market demands. We believe that with these adjustments, we will be in a better position to respond to demand.

Us_hybrid_sales_20080903
Hybrids as a component of brand sales. Click to enlarge.

Honda. Sales of the Civic Hybrid dropped 3.4% to 2,020 units in September, representing 9.4% of all Civic models sold. Civic sales dropped 13% by volume to 21,577 units. There were no posted sales of the Accord hybrid this month.

Ford. Combined sales of the Escape and Mariner hybrids were down 40% in September to 990 units, representing 8.9% of total combined sales of the two. Total Escape and Mariner sales were down 20% to 11,133 units.

Nissan. Nissan sold 470 units of the Altima hybrid, down 38% from the year prior, and representing 2.9% of all Altimas sold. Total Altima sales were down 42.4% to 16,043 units.

GM. Combined sales of the two-mode hybrid Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade SUVs reached 1,101 units, representing 8.8% of total sales of those three vehicles. The Saturn VUE hybrid sold 443 units for 5.6% of VUE sales; the Malibu hybrid posted 382 units, representing 1.9% of all Malibu sales; and the Saturn Aura posted 31 units, representing 0.5% of all Aura sales.

Comments

Will S

Rather odd to see the Escape and Mariner Hybrids down so far, unless it has something to do with availability of the Prius drivetrain. The depth of the Altima hybrid drop is also a little bit of surprise.

Chris

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JustinVP

Everyone is decreasing production, despite demand remaining high. I don't know anyting about the cost of production for these vehicles, but I have to assume they're losing money on them. If they were profitable they'd find a way to increase production.

ToppaTom

If GM had not made all those bonehead management decisions over the last few years they would be part of this - they could be selling less EV1s each month and so loosing less money on each one each month. Instead, the sales of the much criticized hybrid versions of the Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade SUVs reached 8.8%.

"To the point, the shortage in Prius is not just batteries, but a well-orchestrated, highly-efficient production system." Now THAT’S bonehead. What orchestra did they emulate ?
They should ask for their fair share of our auto industry 25 billion $ bailout –
OH! – THERE IT IS
- “Given the market shifts, we’re working to right-size our inventory and build to meet market needs. Through our joint venture with Panasonic Energy EV, we’re working to significantly expand hybrid battery production, with plans for 1 million battery supply at the start of the 2010s.
We’re also adjusting our production mix at our US plants, including building Prius in Mississippi in late 2010 to stay in line with market demands. We believe that with these adjustments, we will be in a better position to respond to demand.”

eddie

I wonder what role the upcoming model change over plays in holding back expansion of production. If you are planning on making a different widget for 2010, why would you spend $$$ to build more molds, machines, etc. to make components that will no longer be needed in 2010 (ignoring that production continues for service for a decade or more).

Will S

> Instead, the sales of the much criticized hybrid versions of the Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade SUVs reached 8.8%

They didn't say how far the SUV lines had sunk in sales. With 4 production lines closed, they are looking to make few waves in those lines. 8.8% in a sinking production series isn't much to write home about.

Dave

Who is the TOTAL JERK that wrote this article? Or the JERK editor who put the title on the article if it was their idea? This is the kind of reporting I'd expect in the National Enquirer.

If it's true that "Overall sales of light duty vehicles in the US in September dropped 26.6% year-on-year. (Earlier post.)"....then a drop of ONLY 8.9% in Hybrid sales is a bloody miracle showing great relative strength in the hybrid sector!

Why do you idiots like to say negative things. This shows that Hybrids are doing better than all other cars. Why isn't THAT the headline you alarmist, papparazzi idiots???

Dave

Who is the TOTAL JERK that wrote this article? Or the JERK editor who put the title on the article if it was their idea? This is the kind of reporting I'd expect in the National Enquirer.

If it's true that "Overall sales of light duty vehicles in the US in September dropped 26.6% year-on-year. (Earlier post.)"....then a drop of ONLY 8.9% in Hybrid sales is a bloody miracle showing great relative strength in the hybrid sector!

Why do you idiots like to say negative things. This shows that Hybrids are doing better than all other cars. Why isn't THAT the headline you alarmist, papparazzi idiots???

Adam H

Dave,

This post is, and always has been, about the total monthly sales of hybrid vehicles. A good journalist reports the facts and lets the reader infer the meaning himself. You have to read no more than two sentences to see that relative to the rest of the industry, hybrids had a good month.

Seems that Mike did a great job with this post, as usual.

Go write your own blog if you want sensational headlines.

Fat Knowledge

The key for this chart on Reported Hybrids Percentage Share of US New Vehicle sales is messed up.

And while I don't agree with Dave's "the jerk store called and they're all out of you" tone, I do think he makes a good point that this has more to do with a slow down of car sales then people buying fewer hybrids. The percentage of cars sold that were hybrids in September of 2008 was higher than any other September of years past.

Kamil

Is new model of Prius due to release in October?
Can we expect any increase next month?

John

@Adam H

You missed the point that Dave is making (a bit obnoxious perhaps, but true anyway). The headline of this article is meant to be sensational and it is negative. Yes, hybrid sales are down, but they are down much less than total car sales so their relative volume is actually growing.

Tripp

No, John. Adam's spot on. The title simply reflects the numbers. They are what they are. You're absolutely right that compared to "regular" LDV sales, hybrids had a good month. It still doesn't change the fact that hybrid sales fell 8.9%.

John

Yes Tripp, I understand that. But this is a forum for promoting green.

If you own the restaurant, which do you put on the menu if you want to make sales:

cold, dead, raw fish OR sushi?

Same thing right? You sure you want to do that?

I'm not stupid and I know what the numbers say. I'm talking about us giving people who want to hurt us quotes that come from our own forum to use against us. This will show up on a power point slide to some stupid politician that "even the green nuts admit that hybrids are failing".

Fred H

I offer constructive criticism:
I, and I suspect other GCC readers, am very interested in the change in market share of hybrids.
I humbly suggest mentioning this figure prominently in the title or first paragraph of the post in the future.

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