It’s not news that hybrid sales are down from one year ago, when people were still buying cars and gas prices were peaking at $4 a gallon. But two bright spots in the hybrid market are providing evidence that hybrids can help carmakers recover in the short-run—and prosper thereafter. Those two bright spots are Ford and Honda.
Ford sold a record number of Fusions—18,321—in April. More than 1,000 of those sales came from the hybrid version, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which helped boost the company’s hybrid sales up 21 percent compared to a year ago. The introduction of a hybrid version of a model that is gaining popularity bodes will for the future of Ford’s hybrid program. The Fusion Hybrid is rated at 41 mpg in the city. The company—which also sells the Ford Escape Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market—tallied 2,299 hybrid sales in April.
April was the sixth time in seven months that Ford made gains in its market share, enabling the company to push past Toyota to retake its position as the nation’s No. 2 car seller. By offering a hybrid counterpoint to Toyota’s midsize hybrids, the Camry Hybrid and Toyota Prius, Ford exhibited the ability to compete head-to-head on fuel efficiency with Toyota’s popular vehicles. This will become even more important when Toyota introduces the 2010 Toyota Prius in a few weeks.
While Toyota reported a 42 percent drop in overall April sales, Honda posted a modest 25 percent drop. Just as the introduction of the Ford Fusion Hybrid helped Ford, the first full month of sales of Honda’s 2010 Insight gave a boost to Honda. Honda’s one-two-punch for hybrids in April were the new Honda Insight, tallying 2,096 sales, plus the Honda Civic Hybrid, which continued to carry significant incentives. The combined sales of the two vehicles were 5,457 units, enough to produce a 25.5 percent gain from a year ago.
The bottom line: Ford and Honda—two of the three historic leaders in the hybrid market, along with Toyota—managed to increase its hybrid sales by 21 and 25.5 percent respectively, despite the worst possible macro-economic conditions for hybrids.
A full set of hybrid sales numbers and more analysis will be posted later this week in our Hybrid Market Dashboard.