December 2009 Dashboard: Year-End Tally

in partnership with Polk

Analysis of 2009 Sales Numbers

Hybrids Worldwide

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

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

The final tally of hybrid sales for 2009 comes in at 290,272 units—not bad for a year in which auto sales imploded. Hybrid sales were off by 8 percent compared to 2008, while the overall market fell by 21 percent. The total market share of hybrid gas-electric vehicles was 2.8 percent.

How did hybrids manage to maintain a decent sales performance in 2009, when they are more expensive than comparable conventional models, and gas prices were modest? The answer is new product introductions, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid, >Honda Insight, and Lexus HS250h. Fusion sales helped Ford bypass Honda to become the second biggest seller of hybrids. Sales of all the existing popular hybrid models took a tumble, but the new models softened the blow to the segment.

The expected growth of hybrids in 2010 will benefit from even more new models, as well as an improved market, and higher production output on popular models like the Toyota Prius. We expect the share of market to easily surpass 3 percent next year, as it climbs approximately one point a year throughout the decade. There will be casualties along the way—particularly hybrid models from General Motors, such as the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, and the Saturn Vue and Saturn Aura hybrids. These models are either dead or will soon be killed off. These cancellations will have limited impact on the market, because they never made more than a blip on the sales radar in the first place.

The arrival of plug-in hybrids and electrics makes it difficult to forecast hybrid sales for 2010. What impact will these electric-drive cars have on conventional hybrids? Will buyers waiting for a more robust electric drive hold off on a hybrid purchase in 2010, until plug-in technology arrives? Will the new models simply displace sales of conventional models? Or will plug-in cars fuel growth in all greener advanced technology vehicles? With the right economic conditions and government incentives—and compelling new models coming to market—sales of hybrid and electric cars could exceed the rosiest predictions.

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.

Hybrids sold in the US (December 2009): 25,160

US hybrid sales for December 2009

6,699

Model Units vs. last month vs. December 2008 CYTD vs. CYTD 2008
Prius 11,775 22.4% 49.8% 139,682 12.1%
HS250h 1,980 40.7% n/a n/a
Insight 1,639 16.8% n/a 20,572 n/a
RX400h 1,598 32.1% 9.2% 14,464 -4.8%
Fusion 1,556 19.3% n/a 15,554 n/a
Camry 1,513 3.3% 19.97% 22,887 -50.5%
Escape 1,036 18.5% -0.7% 14,787 -14.0%
Highlander 1,029 42.5% 15.6% 11,086 -42.8%
Altima 842 67.4% 18.6% 9,357 6.1%
Civic 471 93.8% -54.5% 15,119 -12.1%
Silverado 279 (est) 78.6% n/a 1,598 n/a
Escalade 205 (est) 78.6% -33.0% 1,959 145.0
Yukon 237 (est) 78.6% -46.3% 1,933 18.0%
Tahoe 203 15.9% -79.3% 3,301 19.3%
Vue 186 38.7% 45.0% 2,656 -13.4%
Aura 159 448.3% 367.6% 527 84.3%
Malibu 132 -37.7% -70.9% 4,162 74.3%
Milan 130 34.0% n/a 1,486 n/a
Mariner 121 40.7% 14.2% 1,693 -27.3%
GS450h 54 45.9% 5.9% 469 -30.8%
LS600hL 15 0.0% -70.0% 258 -73.7
All hybrids 25,160 25.8% 42.1% 290,272 -7.6%
All vehicles 1,029,936 37.9% 15.1% 10,429,014 -21.4%

US hybrid sales for December 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 55,553
2 New York 15,348
3 Florida 14,949
4 Texas 14,632
5 New Jersey 11,367
6 Illinois 11,124
7 Washington 9,650
8 Virginia 9,545
9 Pennsylvania 9,126
10 Massachusetts 8,425
11 Maryland 7,294
12 Ohio 7,206
13 Arizona 6,106
14 North Carolina 6,050
15 Michigan 5,899

*Registrations CYTD November 2009

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 District of Columbia 3.79
2 California 1.54
3 Washington 1.53
4 Vermont 1.42
5 Massachusetts 1.32
6 New Jersey 1.30
7 Maryland 1.30
8 New Hampshire 1.28
9 Virginia 1.26
10 Connecticut 1.21
11 Oregon 1.18
12 Colorado 1.13
13 Montana 1.08
14 Arizona 1.04
15 Hawaii 0.89
US State Average 0.87

*Registrations CYTD November 2009

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 26,677
2 New York 21,193
3 San Francisco 15,799
4 Washington, DC 11,595
5 Chicago 8,990
6 Boston 8,668
7 Seattle 7,959
8 Philadelphia 7,367
9 Phoenix 5,037
10 Dallas-Ft. Worth 4,941
11 San Diego 4,683
12 Denver 4,573
13 Atlanta 4,096
14 Orlando 4,007
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 3,941

*Registrations CYTD December 2009

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 8.8
2 Helena, MT 6.7
3 San Francisco 6.7
4 Washington, DC 5.1
5 Los Angeles 4.8
6 San Diego 4.7
7 Seattle 4.7
8 Juneau 4.6
9 Santa Barbara, CA 4.4
10 Monterey, CA 4.3
11 Charlottesville, VA 4.1
12 Austin, TX 3.7
13 Billings, MT 3.7
14 Lafayette, IN 3.7
15 Boston 3.6
  US Metro Area Average 1.8

*Registrations CYTD December 2009


View Past Dashboards:
  • Charles F.

    A year ago I made predictions about this years hybrid sales. Overall I thought the hybrid market would grow by 4.3%. Instead it went down by 7.6%. I hope we have a better year in 2010.

    As for individual cars, like everybody I was close on some and way off on others. Everybody missed the Honda Insight by a country mile, maybe a light year. I had the most pessimistic outlook I know of at only 37796 cars. Honda only sold 20572 cars. Honda sold 54.43% of my WAG, but only 22.86% of their first WAG. The Civic, while down from last year did not do as badly in 2009 as I predicted. Maybe some of the potential Insight buyers decided the Civic was a better deal (Consumer Reports would agree). Honda sold 35691 hybrids, which is way under the 47185 I WAGed.

    I was much closer with my WAG for the Fusion/Milan. Ford sold 17040 and I WAGed 19998 (85.21% of reality). The surprise for me in the mid-size sedan class was how well the Malibu and Altima did. I thought with new competition from the Fusion all of the then current mid-size sedans would take a hit. That is not what happened. The Camry took the hit. I WAGed 63560 mid-size sedans would be sold. Only 53973 mid-size sedans were sold (85% of WAG). I guess GM offered some really good deals on the discontinued Malibu and Aura Hybrids. I have no idea why the Altima did better. Looking at the specs I see why the Fusion took market share from the Camry, but not how the Altima or Malibu did.

    I thought hybrid SUV sales would be flat. I was mostly correct. Why did anybody buy an Escalade? I have no Idea.

    Following is my 2009 WAG:
    Model 2009 Real 2009 WAG
    Prius 139682 150940
    Camry 22887 34102
    Highlander 11086 19391
    RX400h 14464 15200
    LS600hL 258 980
    GS450h 469 678
    Civic 15119 9389
    Escape 14787 17193
    Mariner 1693 2329
    Yukon 1933 2356
    Malibu 4162 2388
    Vue 2656 3067
    Tahoe 3301 4088
    Aura 527 572
    Altima 9357 6500
    Escalade 1959 801
    Aspen* 0 0
    Fusion/Milan 17040 19998
    Insight 20572 37796
    All hybrids 290272 327768

  • Brad

    If the plug-ins do come out this year and are rated highly I have two predictions that are slightly counter to one another.

    First, and hopefully, some hybrid owners will sell their hybrids to buy the plug-ins. This will take a bight out of the new car sales because there will be a greater number of used hybrids on the market, which may open up the hybrid market to many more people. Thus please start counting “pre-owned” sales for hybrids.

    Second, it is possible that the buyers of plug-ins will keep the hybrid for long trips or as a second car, and many who would buy a new hybrid will instead just purchase a plug-in. This would sink the hybrid sales even more, and, from an environmental perspective, would not be good because the hybrid would be sitting unused instead of being sold to another person to replace a less efficient car.

    The second point also makes me wonder about the hybrid sales numbers a bit; how much of the new sales are to people with older hybrids? My interest is to see more hybrids on the road, and those numbers are not clearly displayed in this report. Can we also have a graph that indicates the number of hybrid registrants over time? We may hit a point where hybrid owners are merely replacing their car with a hybrid.

  • Charles

    Well here I go again. My WAG for 2010 hybrid sales:
    Model 2010 WAG
    Prius: 151841
    HS250h: 11512
    Insight: 21994
    RX450h: 17738
    Fusion+Milan: 21515
    Camry: 20174
    Escape+Mariner: 14447
    Highlander: 10688
    Altima: 9872
    Civic: 10992
    Silverado: 2384
    Escalade: 2197
    Yukon: 2353
    Tahoe: 3379
    Vue: 409
    Aura: 350
    Malibu: 290
    GS450h: 502
    LS600hL: 217
    All hybrids: 309855

    The total includes new hybrids not yet available.

  • Max Reid

    Charles – I appreciate your effort and enthusiasm in predicting these numbers.

    In Japan, Hybrids captured nearly 10% of the total vehicle market share. Thats
    a big achievement.

    Although I would like to see higher sales, it may be difficult because of the
    struggling economy and the potential increase in oil prices. Every day, nearly
    2 million new vehicles should be hitting the worlds roads. If this increases
    the oil prices towards $100 / barrel, it will push the people towards hybrids,
    however if it exceeds that price, more people may simply stop buying vehicles
    and will instead use more buses and trains. After all, Light Rail train are
    popping up in every city.

    In Japan, Prius sales exceeded 200,000 units. They could have sold more here,
    but the battery shortage has hampered their production. This year they are
    increasing the prius production, so we can expect it to be more.

    I dont see much prospect for Camry or HS250h as the batteries eat their trunk space.
    I dont see any sales info for Tribute, Durango, Aspen and Sierra hybrids.

    Honda has set a higher price on Insight and surely they can reduce this. After all
    its 6 inches shorter than Civic. I believe CR-Z is coming to USA this year. I wish
    it comes as a 4-seater instead of 2.

    I wish GM & Ford apply their latest hybrid system on a hatchback and sell it as
    a competition to Prius and Insight. Surelly it will get a good share of the market.
    Malibu, Aura and Vue Hybrids will be gone.

    Already Tribute, Durango and Aspen hybrids have gone.

    But then Milan and Mariner hybrids also sell only as much as the above 3.

    Volt may capture some market, but Leaf is an EV and the range will hamper it.

    Lets hope for a better greener year for Hybrids.

  • Max Reid

    Honda plans to sell 2-seater version of CR-Z in USA which will give around 30 MPG. Is that true, if so, thats going to be another disaster like Accord Hybrid.

    Why not they make it give 50 MPG. After all, its a very small car.
    Every family would like to have atleast a 4 seater vehicle where the kids / friends can sit in the back seat.

    I wish atleast Ford brings a hybrid version of Fiesta that will compete with Prius.

  • Charles

    Yes, Max, I wish Ford would put their hybrid system in smaller cars. I think a better bet would be the new Focus and its derivatives. A hybrid Focus, Grand C-Max and Transit Connect would be really nice. Who knows the new Focus Hatchback as a hybrid could go head to head with a Prius. If the Focus could match the Prius on MPG, the Focus would beat the Prius on just about every other measure except interior size.

  • Max Reid

    Here is some more info.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100108/ap_on_bi_ge/as_japan_toyota_prius

    Prius sold 208,876 units in Japan and 404,000 Worldwide and thats an
    increase of 44 %. Thanks to Prius-3 which offered 50 MPG and also has
    22 cu. ft. trunk space which is as big as Crown Vic.

    Insight sold 93,283 units in Japan and 20,000 + in USA.

    The above figure of 595,000 includes sales in USA only upto Nov-2009.
    So including Dec-2009 tally of 25,000 and if we add, it goes to 290,000.

    Japan sales is 300,000 +. So the Worldwide sales from Jan thru Dec should
    be 650,000 + and its probably a new World record.

    So far, Prius has sold more than 1.6 million units worldwide with the Prius-3
    already crossing 300,000 units. Expect Prius version-I to come with a 21,000
    price tag. This model will not have cruise control, so it should be ideal for
    cab drivers who dont use cruise and want an affordable vehicle. At 50 MPG, they
    can easily get the return on investment compared to the ubiquitous
    Crown Vic/ Grand Marq / Towncar.

  • mtcautosd

    Hybrid cars should be launched at all prices starting from lower range to higher range..
    so that every needy person can buy and make the environment greener without polluting..

  • Grant

    Can you explain the figures for Japan going from
    78,000 units in 2008 to
    250,000 units in 2009?
    (annual dashboard chart)

  • tapra1

    Or will plug-in cars fuel growth in all greener advanced technology vehicles? With the right economic conditions and government incentives—and compelling new models coming to market—sales of hybrid and electric cars could exceed the rosiest predictions.Tech Expo

  • altonalvin

    I believe that hybrid cars is ONE possible small step for man kind towards a better greener tomorrow, it is not the only solution since we still got factories going, polluting the air, animals going extinct, icebergs melting and other astronomical crisis the planet is currently going through. voyager au Japon