2009 Was Breakthrough Year for Global Hybrid Car Sales

Last year was the worst for auto sales in decades, but might be recorded in history as the breakthrough year for gas-electric hybrids and other small efficient cars. Connect these dots from global sales stats.

  • Prius Was No. 1 Seller in Japan

    The Toyota Prius was Japan’s top-selling automobile last year for the first time since its debut in 1997. The Prius took the number one sales slot in May, and never let go—posting a total of 208,876 units in Japan in 2009. That represents 5.3 percent of the Japan’s new passenger car sales. The Honda Insight came in fifth with 93,283 units. Strong hybrid sales in Japan revealed how the right vehicles combined with effective government incentives can effectively push consumers toward efficient automobiles.

  • Hybrids Gained Market Share in US

    Hybrid sales in the US reached 2.8 percent of the new vehicle market, its highest market share ever. In July, hybrids peaked at 3.6 percent of the market, boosted by the “Cash for Clunkers” rebate program. The total number of hybrid sales declined 7.5 percent from last year, but the overall market fell by 20 percent. Hybrids are expected to make a gain of one or two percentage points in 2010, when the overall market bounces back. In a sign of what may come in 2010, hybrid sales rose in December 2009 rose by 42 percent compared to the previous year. Ford annual hybrid sales were up 72 percent from 2008.

  • Fuel-Efficient Ford Models Topped Charts in UK

    The Ford Fiesta took over the top UK sales position from the Ford Focus and the pair retained first and second in the sales charts through to the end of the year. Ford sold 117,296 Fiestas during the years. The Econetic version manages better than 60 miles to the gallon. The Ford Fiesta will make its US debut in mid-2010. The Focus, the second-best selling car in the UK for the year, will get a stop-start system—a mild form of hybrid—next year, boosting its mileage beyond 60 mpg.


  • ms

    I have said this so many times.

    Start and stop system is no hybrid system or car.

    It is just a car with a higher standard battery, no electric engine exists.

    In europe there are a lot of versions with this system and none receives tax beneficts or are consedered as hybrid.

  • James K

    The Prius and most hybrids for sale in the U.S. are not stop/start hybrids. The CVT takes drive power from both gas and electric motors to drive the wheels.

    Europe seems to have foolishly pinned its fuel efficiency on diesel. Although diesel can be priced competitively in the near term, as peak oil has more of an effect, the lower percentage yield of diesel from a barrel of oil compared to gasoline (10.31% diesel vs. 18.56% gasoline) will start to hurt diesel-based solutions.

    What Fuels Are Made From Crude Oil? http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=oil_home-basics#oil_refining-basics

  • Casey Verdant

    Great news from the Detroit Auto Show! Toyota’s cheaper hybrid can’t come soon enough! The Toyota FT-CH is a great addition to the Prius family: smaller, more efficient, and cheaper!

  • jmbrendel

    This is really encouraging news. I’ll bet that hybrids reach 5% of new-vehicle sales in the USA in 2010.

    And just wait till gas prices spike again. There are at least three geopolitical events that could send gas prices skyrocketing in the near future:

    (1) a revolution against the communist dictator in Venezuela;
    (2) an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities;
    (3) sustained Muslim terrorist attacks on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial bottleneck for the passage of oil exports.

    Personally, I’d love to see #1, but not necessarily #2, and of course not #3.

    But whether we think these events are good or bad, there’s a decent chance they’ll occur in the next 5 years. If they do, we’ll see gas at $5 or $6 per gallon immediately. Under those circumstances, hybrids could make up 25% or more of new-vehicle sales. And it’s about time.

  • Thomas Schaffter

    Us Prius sales decreased 12% in 2009, which seems reasonable, given the economy. (158,900 to 139,700 – Wikipedia)

    But sales in Japan INCREASED 285% !!! (73,100 to 208,900)

    Explanation??

  • Anonymous

    I think Wikipedia is wrong – I am doing a research project on the Prius and after looking at the source for the 2009 number, the auther misquoted the article. The actual number is 187,860 – YOY growth of 18.2%

  • Chris2010

    The Prius doesn’t have total market domination in the U.S. like it did in the past. We have American hybrids like the Focus now, which had enormous gains during 2009 (bigger than any other hybrid model), that are cheaper and sportier than the Prius. In Japan, though, Toyota is an even bigger brand than it is here, so Ford doesn’t have as much of a chance there.

  • james2

    Who said the auto industry is dyeing? With numbers like these we can expect it to get back to normal pretty soon, the only things which stood against it were the gas emissions and the higher combustible prices. The hybrid cars are the solution though, I guess that’s why people are asking more and more about them on all the car dealer websites I have visited lately.

  • tapra1

    that are cheaper and sportier than the Prius. In Japan, though, Toyota is an even bigger brand than it is here, so Ford doesn’t have as much of a chance there.jjwyy