April 2009 Dashboard: Honda on the Move

in partnership with Polk

Clearly, the crisis in the automotive industry continues. But is there opportunity in this crisis? At least one automaker thinks so. After launching its redesigned Insight sedan in March, Honda has been ramping up sales volumes of both of its hybrid models.

Analysis of April 2009 Sales Numbers

Hybrids Worldwide

"Top 5 global hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations CYTD February 2009.

and "Top 5 US hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations CYTD February 2009.

April’s hybrid sales totaled 21,735 units, up slightly from the previous month but almost 50 percent below last year’s levels. To put things in perspective, Prius alone sold 21,757 units in April 2008. Today, the combined sales of all 20 hybrid models on the market barely reach that same mark.

Of course, it’s not just hybrid sales that are suffering. Sales of all vehicles are off 34 percent from last year as consumers remain wary of making major purchases in an unsteady economy.

Clearly, the crisis in the automotive industry continues. But is there opportunity in this crisis? At least one automaker thinks so. After launching its redesigned Insight sedan in March, Honda has been ramping up sales volumes of both of its hybrid models. The company’s market share in the April 2008 US hybrid market reached 25 percent—the highest level since 2004. Although sales expectations for the Insight have been scaled back, Honda still expects to sell at least 60,000 Insights to American car buyers this year. The Insight has become a runaway success in Japan, where it was the number one top selling car last month—the first hybrid to ever occupy that spot. While consumer tastes and fuel prices in Japan differ substantially from those in the US (and Toyota is likely to be a fierce competitor for hybrid sales in Japan and elsewhere), Honda’s Insight volumes in the Japanese market suggest that the company is serious about being a major player in hybrid vehicles.

Like all automakers, Honda is suffering. The company announced a $1.1 billion loss last quarter, its first quarter in the red since the mid-1990s. But Honda’s US sales chief suggests that, although fewer people are shopping for vehicles, those who are may be more likely to visit Honda showrooms in this recessionary environment. This is due to Honda’s reputation for quality and reliability, which leads many car buyers to view the brand as a “safe harbor” during difficult times. And Honda’s Japanese CEO, Takeo Fukui, has stated publicly that he believes US sales have reached bottom and are due to begin rising again soon. If he is correct, Honda will be well positioned with new hybrid models, ambitious sales targets, and additional production capabilities (including a joint venture with battery manufacturer GS Yuasa to produce lithium ion batteries for future models).

US Sales

Our information is based on hybrid sales as reported by the manufacturers. For each model, this month’s sales are shown compared to sales in the previous month and at the same time last year. We also examine hybrid market share by model and manufacturer. The historical sales graph for top-selling hybrid models shows estimated 2008 volumes based on sales-to-date.

Hybrids sold in the US (April 2009): 21,735

US hybrid sales for April 2009

Model Units vs. last month vs. April 2008 CYTD vs. CYTD 2008
Prius 8,385 -6.0% -61.5% 32,662 -49.5%
Insight 2,096 268% n/a 2,665 n/a
Fusion 1,073 166.9% n/a 1,475 n/a
Milan 92 87.8% n/a 141 n/a
Camry 2,198 -13.9% -67.1% 7,973 -62.9%
Highlander 933 -10.0% -63.8% 3,910 -56.1%
RX400h 655 -43.8% -59.7% 4,878 -12.2%
LS600hL 19 -24.0% -84.4% 99 n/a
GS450h 33 -21.4% -59.8% 138 -52.1%
Civic 3,361 17.1% -22.3% 8,668 -25.6%
Escape 1,049 13.4% -37.6% 4,185 -33.2%
Mariner 85 -39.3% -62.2% 474 -45.1%
Yukon 147 -14.1% 199.4% 663 141.9%
Malibu 547 0.0% n/a 1,436 n/a
Vue 338 -6.6% 745.0% 1,041 400.5%
Tahoe 261 -14.1% 278.4% 1,180 301.2%
Aura 31 19.2% 675.0% 99 200.0%
Altima 222 -73.4% -72.3% 2,163 -17.9%
Escalade 115 -14.1% n/a 521 n/a
Silverado 95 39.7% n/a 217 n/a
All hybrids 21,735 1.4% -45.7% 74,629 -39.7%
All vehicles 819,817 -4.4% -34.3% 3,024,474 -37.5%

US hybrid sales for April 2009 by manufacturer and model

United States Sales by Make

U.S. hybrid market historical sales (1999 – 2009)

United States Yearly Sales

Regional Data

Source: R. L. Polk & Co.

Curious where hybrid buyers live? We present the data in two ways. First, we list the 15 cities and states that boast the largest numbers of new hybrids on their roads within the past year. For example, residents in the New York City area put over 19,000 new hybrids on the road in 2007. Second, we adjust for population and look at hybrids per person (in states) or per household (in metro areas.) This lets us include cities like Portland, OR: a city that has fewer overall vehicles (and thus fewer hybrids) but has more hybrids per capita than anywhere else.

States with the Highest Hybrid Sales

Rank State New Hybrids*
1 California 7,385
2 Florida 1,832
3 Texas 1,817
4 New York 1,679
5 Illinois 1,360
6 Washington 1,317
7 New Jersey 1,140
8 Virgnia 968
9 Pennsylvania 942
10 Massachusetts 886
11 Arizona 869
12 Maryland 830
13 Minnesota 803
14 Ohio 764
15 Colorado 728

*Registrations CYTD February 2009

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 Washington 0.29
2 District of Columbia 0.21
3 California 0.20
4 Colorado 0.16
5 Minnesota 0.16
6 Maryland 0.15
7 Oregon 0.15
8 New Jersey 0.14
9 New Mexico 0.14
10 Massachusetts 0.13
11 Arizona 0.13
12 Virginia 0.13
13 Maine 0.12
14 Illinois 0.12
15 Florida 0.11
US State Average 0.10

*Registrations CYTD January 2009

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 3,356
2 San Francisco 2,427
3 New York 2,292
4 Washington, DC 1,158
5 Seattle 1,113
6 Chicago 1,101
7 Boston 883
8 Philadelphia 859
9 Minneapolis-St. Paul 740
10 Phoenix 736
11 Denver 640
12 Orlando 588
13 Atlanta 577
14 Dallas 576
15 San Diego 556

*Registrations CYTD February 2009

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 1.09
2 San Francisco 1.03
3 Seattle 0.65
4 San Diego 0.61
5 Los Angeles 0.59
6 Monterey, CA 0.58
7 Santa Barbara, CA 0.54
8 San Diego 0.51
9 Washington, DC 0.50
10 Austin 0.45
11 Denver 0.45
12 Minneapolis 0.44
13 Phoenix 0.44
14 Orlando 0.41
15 Baltimore 0.41
  US Metro Area Average 0.20

*Registrations CYTD February 2009


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  • Ed Bogucz

    Where can I find (or can you share) the full list of hybrids per capita in metropolitan areas (beyond the top 15)?