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.