August 2010 Dashboard: Hybrids Down, Clean Diesels Up

The U.S. auto market experienced its weakest August sales since 1983. Overall sales dropped by 21 percent compared to last August, when the Cash for Clunkers programs gave an all-too-brief boost to car sales.

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Sales of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI were up nearly 30 percent compared to a year ago.

Gas-electric hybrids, which disproportionately benefited from Clunkers a year ago, took a harder fall in August, dropping by 38 percent compared to last year. In a rare bright spot, the Ford Fusion Hybrid—a vehicle that racked up numerous “Car of the Year” awards in 2010—saw big gains in sales in August. Ford sold 3,010 Fusion Hybrids—up from 1,226 a year ago and nearly double from last month’s sales.

While less than one-third the size of the hybrid market, sales of clean diesels fared better compared to a year ago. The dozen clean diesel vehicles we are tracking are up by 52 percent compared to last August, and up by 20 percent compared to last month. While the iconic Prius fell by 37.5 percent since last year when Clunkers was in full swing, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the quintessential clean diesel, is up by nearly 30 percent from a year ago. Nonetheless, hybrid technology is expected to spread faster and grow much bigger than clean diesel in the U.S. in the coming years.

Honda posted the first sales of its new model, the CR-Z hybrid coupe. Honda sold a respectable 694 units during a partial month of sales. The introduction of the CR-Z, plus the jump in Fusion Hybrid sales, produced total hybrid sale of 24,002 units—essentially flat compared to last month.

August 2010 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (August 2010): 24,002
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.41%

US hybrid sales for August 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. August 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Toyota Prius 11,799 -16.3% -37.5% 91,940 -2.0%
Ford Fusion 3,010 89.8% 27.9% 14,604 41.1%
Honda Insight 2,030 9.3% -52.0 14,145 0.7%
Lexus RX450h 1,370 1.0% -21.9% 9,771 9.5%
Toyota Camry 1,165 -8.7% -44.9% 10,075 -42.8%
Honda Civic 761 23.3% 6.1% 4,489 -68.0%
Ford Escape 728 -35.8% -57.5% 7,983 -28.9%
Honda CR-z 694 n/a n/a 694 n/a
Lexus HS 250h 594 260.0% 9.4% 7,251 1,235.4%
Toyota Highlander 486 -15.5% -41.9% 4,506 -46.1%
Altima 284 -24.9% -91.0% 4,710 -36.1%
Chevy Silverado 328 185.2% 98.8% 1,160 89.2%
Mercury Milan 94 4.4% -60.8% 701 -29.2%
Cadillac Escalade 88 -15.4% -58.9% 826 -43.0%
Chevy Tahoe 88 10.0% -60.4% 1,081 -47.9%
Mercedes S400 84 21.7% 281.8% 677 2977.3%
Mercedes ML450 79 229.2% n/a 739 n/a
GMC Yukon 76 -2.6% -39.7% 900 -20.3%
Mercury Mariner 62 -27.9% -84.1% 652 -50.4%
Mazda Tribute 55 -19.1% -71.1% 441 -47.9%
GMC Sierra 51 155.0% -16.4% 355 35.0%
BMW ActiveHybrid 7 26 188.9% n/a 53 n/a
Lexus GS450h 15 -6.3% -68.8% 210 -30.2%
Lexus LS600hL 15 7.1% 50.0% 81 -58.5%
Chevy Malibu 12 -14.3% -97.3% 385 -89.1%
Saturn Aura 3 -25.0% -95.4% 45 -83.9%
BMW X6 3 0.0% n/a 231 n/a
Saturn Vue 2 n/a -99.5% 49 -97.8%
All hybrids 24,002 0.7% -38.3% 178,754 -11.3%
All vehicles 997,468 -5.0% -21.0% 7,661,592 8.4%

August 2010 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (August 2010): 7,318
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.73%

US clean diesel sales for August 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. August 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Volkswagen Jetta 4,245 18.9% 29.3% 27,497 4.7%
BMW X5 560 23.1% 102.2% 4,909 120.7%
Volkswagen Golf 472 15.1% n/a 3,681 n/a
Mercedes GL320 383 115.2% 59.6% 2,057 19.8%
Audi Q7 371 50.2% 437.7% 1,918 88.6%
BMW 335d 341 -38.7% 66.3% 2,441 179.3%
Audi A3 338 74.2% n/a 2,078 n/a
Mercedes ML320 268 36.0% 262.2% 1,476 -32.3%
Jeep Cherokee 128 18.5% -16.9% 745 8.6%
VW Touareg 121 3.4% -6.9% 1,147 167.4%
Mercedes E320 61 1,933.3% -82.5% 110 -88.9%
Mercedes R320 30 150.0% 275.0% 216 -23.1%
All clean diesels 7,318 21.0% 52.8% 48,275 31.7%
All vehicles 997,468 -5.0% 21.0% 7,661,592 8.4%


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  • Yegor

    Actually this is an additional explanation for a little bit slower Hybrid Take-Rate: “clean diesel vehicles we are tracking are up by 52 percent compared to last August” – clean diesel vehicles are eating into Hybrid share of the market.
    The first explanation, of course, is people are waiting for plug-ins which are arriving in just 2 months from now!

  • New SUV

    Good article. The 2011 Porsche Cayenne is also offered as a hybrid.

  • usbseawolf2000

    There is tax credit incentive ($1,300) for Jetta TDI but not for the Prius.