Bright Spots in Hybrid Sales Numbers

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.

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  • Shines

    Good job Ford and Honda. I wonder if Ford will let Mazda sell a hybrid 6?

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Shines, I would hope so. Anything to help vehicle owners keep money in their pockets and help make the world a little better, cleaner place at the same time.

  • Need2Change

    I wonder if the 2010 Escape hybrid will get the upgraded hybrid drivetrain in 2010. Looks like it might improve mileage by 3-5 mpg.

  • jmm

    Just saw a Fusion hybrid ad on Canadian television. They are promoting 61 mpg. This is more than an embellishment compared to the 41 mpg in the article. Regardless, nice to see hybrids moving off the lots.

  • jarslc

    Remember that the Imperial gallon is 5 quarts and not 4 as in the USA thus the apparent higher MGP.

  • Sipping Ford

    Keep in mind the 61 mpg is imperial units and uses Transport Canada testing methods (i.e. does not reflect the recently updated EPA testing method.)

    However, the vehicle is still promising as shown by the recent news about Ford Fusion getting 81.5 mpg:

    Keep it up Ford. If only one of the big 3 can “escape” bankruptcy, it’s Ford. They may have just have enough fleet diversification to hang on.

    The story also makes me wonder what kind of results Insight and Prius would achieve if same drivers use the same driving techniques. Overall excellent examples of higher fuel efficiency standards are very realistic.

  • FamilyGuy

    Does anyone trust Ford to make a car that is going to last 10 or so years like a Honda or Toyota? Fix On Road Daily or Found On Road Dead does not go away because of one promising car in it’s first full month of sales. I need to see them last before I trust them. After having typed that, I am very pleased to see Ford going in this direction. I’d like to see them do well so I can buy an American car at some point in the future.

  • WillyP

    I trust Ford to make a car that is going to last 10 years. I currently own a 1993 Ford Ranger that has been through 3 high school boys and over 200,000 miles and is still rolling along just fine thank you. The difference in quality between Ford/GM and Toyota/Honda is overblown. Styling and efficiency were the difference previously, but I would say even that gap is narrowing.

  • Dave K.

    Ford is indeed a reliable brand again for the most part, and their hybrids use a similar design to Toyota’s. Sipping, the current hypermiler record for the 04-09 Prius is 115mpg as far as I know, unless I missed something. You wouldn’t want to drive like that. Time for these guys to diversify though, all we get is sedans and SUVs, how about a hybrid Coupe? A Minivan? A small PU?

  • Lost Prius to wife

    I agree with Dave K. We all need more choices. A sports car that formerly did only 16 mpg now to be doing 24 mpg. A minivan that formerly did only 20 mpg now to be doing 30 mpg. Those are 33% drops in fuel usage. Maybe the 16 mpg and 20 mpg could be stretched to 32 mpg and 40 mpg with a little ingenuity.

    Also according to Consumers Report, Ford is the company that has increased their quality of vehicle. I agree with WillyP that the difference in quality between all of the top foreign and domestic car manufactures has narrowed. Hopefully Ford will continue its pursuit of quality and put to rest all the “acronyms” for Ford.

  • FamilyGuy

    I’m not going to argue over Ford trucks, especially the Ranger. That’s been their bread and butter. Cars are a different matter. How many old Escorts do you see on the road compared to Civics? I am excited to see Ford put the hybrid technology to use in a more family oriented car compared to the subcompacts. I hope that time proves Ford is indeed making reliable cars.

  • Anonymous

    The June sales figures should also show an increase in Prius sales, because the 2010 Prius is expected to hit the showrooms in late May. So around the 4th of July, perhaps we can expect a smile.

  • Max Reid

    Good job Ford & Honda.

    Despite 3 new models (Fusion, Milan & Insight) especially with an improved technology sales were only at 21K +, its very low.

    Simple Reason : Pricing.
    These companies add lot of extras and bump up the price.

    If the gas prices increase, prices of the Hybrids will also increase.

    Insight did not sell upto its expectations, lets hope atleast the Prius-III will do.

    May be someday, the Chinese will bring their Plugins and Electrics to increase the Hybrid sales beyond the 5% level.

  • Tom Me

    Ironically, the great thing to me is that.. this is a strong hybrid that does not look like a hybrid. Early adopters may want to make a fashion statement. That’s great for initial awareness. Are we getting past that? Most of America wants a car for every day driving.. and have the attention be back on their lives, not on the car they drive. Great going Prius.. you kicked things off! Great going Ford, you broadened the market with best in class fuel economy in a well styled car!

  • Detroit Steve

    Jim, doesn’t Canada use the Imperial Gallon, which is something like 5 quarts? That would explain the Canadian ad that has Fusion getting 25% more MPG.

  • hybridgreg

    As hybrids moved from the realm of fad to niche and then to main stream we now can expect a whole host of new and exciting prospects for the future. Things like plug-ins, all electric, diesel over electric, hydrogen over electric and fuel cells now have a greater chance to be brought to market. There are many who need to be credited with this change of events. The car companies, the government, the consumers, the engineers and others. I hope we all support them in the best way possible, by buying a hybrid.

  • Alberto

    Iam waiting for the new mercedes benz.comming next July.
    it haves a motor , brake generator & starter device between a diesel motor and the transmission.It boost the HP then you get a better MPG.remember Mercedes Benz was the first car builder in the world and always they create the vanguard at the car market.
    Monclova Coahuila Mexico.
    Estoy esperando el nuevo mercedes benz que sale el proximo mes de julio.
    este tiene un accesorio que combina motor,generador al frenar y arrancador entre el motor a diesel y la transmisiòn, este aumenta los caballos de fuerza (HP)
    entoces obtienes un mejor rendimiento en kilometraje.recuerden que Mercedes Benz fuè el primer fabricante de automoviles en el mundo y ellos (MB) siempre crean la vanguardia en el mercado automotriz.

  • Alan Rose

    It’s funny how back when the big three were BIG I never considered buying an American car, but it took an economic crisis to have me reconsider their lineup. I don’t think their problem is making bad automobiles; their gas-guzzlers are some of the most reliable in the world. It’s their sedans people are speculative about.

    To tell you the truth there are only two I would consider buying; 2010 Ford Fusion and 2009 Chevy Malibu. However, their current lineup is really not important. If you look at their upcoming vehicles; 2011 Ford Fiesta, 2010 Ford Taurus, 2010 Chevy Cruze, 2011 Chevy Volt – that’s the stuff that really gets me excited!!!!

    I would also like to remind everyone that you need not aimlessly bash the Big 3. GM, despite facing bankruptcy, still sells more automobiles in the US than anyone else. Ford, in April (2009), overtook Toyota for the #2 spot in the US, after Toyota lost $7.7B in Q1 2009 (sales down 42%) compared to Ford’s $1.4B loss.

    Do some reading before you bash the companies that have spearheaded the American economy for the past 100 years and will do so for the next 100, despite what the media likes to insinuate.