December 2010 Dashboard: Year End Tally

Hybrid car sales fell for the third consecutive year, dropping nearly 6 percent in a year when overall vehicle sales jumped by 11 percent. That harsh reality could give ammunition to hybrid critics who argue that gas-electric vehicles were never viable, or that they only serve as a bridge to more robust vehicle electrification such as electric cars. But a deeper analysis reveals why hybrid car losses probably leveled off in 2010, and sales are poised for growth in the coming years.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Strong hybrid sales in December meant growth among the most popular gas-electric models. New hybrids in 2011, like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, could mean the first year of expanding hybrid sales since 2007.

First, for most of the year, a down economy and low gas prices acted as a double whammy against hybrids. On top of that, Toyota—the biggest hybrid seller and the brand most associated with hybrids—suffered serious blows to its reputation for quality and reliable technology. In spring 2010, the Toyota Prius was directly implicated in these attacks. And yet, when December brought the first glimmers of good economic news and roughly a 30 percent increase in gas prices, hybrid sales jumped by 36 percent compared to the previous month. Sales of the Prius jumped by 50 percent—posting the highest numbers for the entire year.

Monthly gains for the Honda Insight, Lexus RX 400h, Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Lexus 250h similarly allowed these models to end the year well ahead of last year. These hybrids selling more than 10,000 units for the year form a bloc that stands separate from low selling that seem like experiments from half-hearted automakers. For the hybrid market to grow in 2011, carmakers need to produce products that are great cars first and foremost, regardless of the technology.

And that’s what appears to be happening. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Lexus CT 200h, Infiniti M35 Hybrid and upcoming models from Toyota and Ford all promise to add market share for hybrids in the next year. In a single move, Toyota’s introduction of an entire line of Prius models—and its renewed commitment to the technology as a practical and affordable efficiency strategy—will elevate hybrids to a new level. In addition, Volkswagen is also just around from delivering on promises to introduce high-volume hybrids. General Motors, regardless of what it calls its mild hybrid technology, will also add to the mix. (And we’re not talking about the dozen or more plug-in hybrids expected in the next three years.)

The decision to hybridize is a direct result of higher fuel efficiency mandates. These laws will push carmakers to sell gas-electric cars in higher numbers in 2011—and to a much greater degree in 2012 when the next wave of CAFE kicks in. Forecasters predict the number of conventional hybrids to rise to 40 or 50 models in the next three years—doubling adoption to perhaps six or seven percent of the new market (even as pure electric cars are fighting for a single percentage point at the same time).

December 2010 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (December 2010): 28,592
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.50%

US hybrid sales for December 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. December 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Toyota Prius 15,639 53.0% 32.8% 140,928 0.9%
Honda Insight 1,637 6.6% -0.1% 20,962 1.9%
Lexus RX450h 1,535 18.7% -3.9% 15,113 4.5%
Ford Fusion 1,488 6.6% -4.4% 20,816 33.8%
Toyota Camry 1,231 25.2% -18.6% 14,587 -36.2%
Lexus HS 250h 1,121 42.3% -43.4% 10,663 59.2%
Toy. Highlander 949 31.4% -7.8% 7,456 -32.7%
Honda Civic 906 48.0% 92.4% 7,336 -51.5%
Ford Escape 877 14.8% -15.3% 11,182 -24.4%
Honda CR-Z 876 -14.5% n/a 5,249 n/a
Altima 612 41.0% 27.3% 6,710 -28.3%
Linc. MKZ Hybrid 424 8.2% n/a 1,192 n/a
Mercury Milan 281 47.9% 116.2% 1,416 -3.5%
Porsche Cayenne 206 53.7% n/a 344 n/a
Cad. Escalade 131 65.8% -25.1% 1,210 -42.6%
Chevy Tahoe 125 81.2% -60.8% 1,426 -56.8%
GMC Yukon 121 86.2% -32.8% 1,221 -32.7%
Chevy Silverado 114 200.0% 1.8% 1,871 89.8%
Mercury Mariner 95 90.0% -21.5% 890 -47.4%
Mazda Tribute 48 4.3% 9.1% 655 -34.0%
GMC Sierra 44 -25.4% -69.7% 522 -11.5%
Mercedes S400 42 7.7% 88.0% 955 121.1%
Lexus GS450h 30 66.7% -44.4% 305 -35.0%
BMW Hybrid 7 25 212.5% n/a 101 n/a
Lexus LS600hL 17 30.8% 13.3% 129 -50.0%
BMW X6 6 -33.3% -88.0% 248 396.0%
Chevy Malibu 5 -28.6% -96.2% 405 -90.3%
Saturn Aura 5 n/a -96.9% 55 -89.6%
Mercedes ML450 1 n/a -98.6 766 723.7%
Saturn Vue 1 n/a -99.5% 50 -98.1%
All hybrids 28,592 36.2% 12.7% 274,763 -5.8%
All vehicles 1,114,739 31.1% 11.1% 11,588,783 11.1%

December 2010 Plug-in Electric Car Sales Numbers

Plug-in cars sold in the US (December 2010): 345
Hybrid Take-Rate: 0.03%

US plug-in electric sales for December 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. December 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Chevrolet Volt 326 n/a n/a 326 n/a
Nissan LEAF 19 n/a n/a 19 n/a
All plug-in cars 345 n/a n/a 345 n/a
All vehicles 1,114,739 31.1% 11.1% 11,588,783 11.1%

December 2010 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (December 2010): 8,311
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.73%

US clean diesel sales for December 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. December 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
VW Jetta 4,239 19.6% 10.0% 44,621 12.9%
BMW X5 802 4.2% -28.8% 7,925 73.0%
Volkswagen Golf 744 67.2% 159.2% 5,781 843.1%
Audi Q7 476 4.2% 63.6% 3,466 65.5%
BMW 335d 425 18.7% 16.1% 3,802 129.6%
Mercedes ML320 412 89.0% 111.3% 2,766 -8.8%
Mercedes E320 316 11.3% 2533.3% 938 -22.6%
Mercedes GL320 315 -13.0% 28.6% 3,501 36.3%
Audi A3 262 -51.4% -13.2% 3,475 609.2
Jeep Cherokee 255 15.9% 211.0% 1,692 68.0%
VW Touareg 38 -19.1% -84.0% 1,441 27.0%
Mercedes R320 27 200.0% 353 2.6%
All clean diesels 8,311 14.4% 18.6% 79,761 36.9%
All vehicles 1,114,739 31.1% 11.1% 11,588,783 11.1%

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  • Myke

    I must protest and I hope that you will recognize the grave error that you have made, by following along with the continuous false claim of the Chevrolet Volt being a Plug-In EV. This false promotion has been a continuous theme throughout the many years that we have had to listen to this GM saviour being developed and no media outlet has seemed to have the strength or conviction to explain to the public that the Volt is NOT an EV. Why can no one just say it as it is, the Chevrolet Volt is a Plug-In HYBRID, and not an EV. If you are going to list this as an EV then surely there are other Plug-In Hybrids that should be listed as EV’s as well. To compare the Volt and the Nissan Leaf in the same category is wrong and this error should be corrected so that you do not confuse the public anymore.

  • Emc2

    Myke, you are confused. Please google the definition of “plug-in electric vehicle” as it refers to both all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Wikipedia has a good article explaining all the details of this subcategory of electric vehicles, and HybiridCars is absolutely right in putting the Leaf and the Volt together in this category.

  • sharada

    hi.. me and my friends doing paper presentation on hybrid electric vehicles.. so we need a internal working procedures of that cars..

  • FamilyGuy

    Give me a break, it’s not a “grave error”. The Leaf and Volt are one of a kind production cars in their own categories. They both plug in so let them be lumped together for now. As more EV’s come out and more Plug-In hybrids come, the categories can be broken out.

    I’m just happy to see more categories, and thus choices.

  • JamesDavis

    I agree with Myke. The Leaf is an all electric car; the Volt is a hybrid gas car. They are two totally different cars and it is a terrible injustice to compare that hybrid Volt to an all electric car like the Leaf. To compare the Volt, which would represent a rotten Apple, to the Leaf, which would represent a juicy ripe Orange is like comparing a rotten Apple to a ripe Orange.

    The reason sales are down on hybrids is because the economy – gas prices skyrocketing – unemployment skyrocketing – bank loans impossible – people do not have enough money saved to continue buying gas guzzling vehicles. They are saving their money so they can afford a new all electric and not have to be bothered anymore with these roller-coaster gas prices, which will be tipping $5.00 a gallon by the end of summer.

  • rbbayernde

    I agree 100%, the Volt has a 9.3 gallon gas tank and small motor. It’s a hybird not an EV. I’m no expert but it doesn’t take rocket science to figure it out.

  • Charles

    For the last two years I have made predictions of hybrid car sales. So here are the results from 2010:

    Model __________________ 2010 ____ 2010 WAG ___ % of real
    Toyota Prius __________ 140928 ____ 151841 _____ 107.74%
    Ford Fusion + Milan ____ 22232 _____ 21515 ______ 96.77%
    Honda Insight __________ 20962 _____ 21994 _____ 104.92%
    Lexus RX450h __________ 15113 _____ 17738 _____ 117.37%
    Toyota Camry __________ 14587 _____ 20174 _____ 138.30%
    Ford Escape + Twins ___ 12727 _____ 14447 _____ 113.51%
    Lexus HS 250h _________ 10663 _____ 11512 _____ 107.96%
    Toy. Highlander _________ 7456 _____ 10688 _____ 143.35%
    Honda Civic _____________ 7336 _____ 10992 _____ 149.84%
    Altima __________________ 6710 ______ 9872 _____ 147.12%
    Honda CR-Z ____________ 5249
    Chevy Silverado + Sierra _ 2393 ______ 2384 ______ 99.62%
    Chevy Tahoe ____________ 1426 ______ 3379 _____ 236.96%
    GMC Yukon _____________ 1221 ______ 2353 _____ 192.71%
    Cad. Escalade ___________ 1210 ______ 2197 _____ 181.57%
    Linc. MKZ Hybrid ________ 1192
    Mercedes S400 ___________ 955
    Mercedes ML450 _________ 766
    Chevy Malibu ____________ 405 _______ 290 ______ 71.60%
    Porsche Cayenne ________ 344
    Lexus GS450h ___________ 305 _______ 502 _____ 164.59%
    BMW X6 _________________ 248
    Lexus LS600hL __________ 129 _______ 217 _____ 168.22%
    BMW Hybrid 7 ___________ 101
    Saturn Aura ______________ 55 _______ 350 _____ 636.36%
    Saturn Vue _______________ 50 _______ 409 _____ 818.00%
    All hybrids __________ 274763 ____ 309855 ____ 112.77%

    Looks like I was a bit optimistic about the overall hybrid market (12.77% over estimated). I thought that fuel prices would be a bit higher and that would drive the overall market. I thought the Fusion would take sales from the Altima and Camry, I just did not think it would be as much as it turned out to be. I still think the hybrid Civic is a better deal than the Insight, but it looks like not that many people agree with me. I also thought the hybrid SUV market would be better because of higher fuel prices, which did not materialize. It also looks like the big GM hybrid trucks and SUVs only had early adopters, and no staying power. Overall I think my crystal ball worked well for 2010.

    Anybody care to WAG for 2011 sales. My crystal ball is really cloudy about 2011. More choices coming on line and who knows where fuel prices are headed. If fuel goes too high the economy will double dip back into recession, and all sales will drop. If fuel goes to the mid to high $3.00 range, I think hybrid and 40+MPG cars will sell very well.

  • Anonymous

    Total hybrid sales for 2010 / Total sales / % of hybrid to total sales

    TMS 189,181 / 1,764k / 10.72%
    FoMoCo 35,496 / 1,935k / 1.83%
    Honda 33,547 / 1,230k / 2.73%
    GM 6,760 / 2,215k / 0.3%

  • Max Reid

    You can charge the Volt from Grid, the same way as u do with the Leaf. On a daily basis, most people drive less than 40 miles and hence Volt is a EV on those days, only once in a while when we exceed 40 mile range, it becomes a Hybrid.

    Thats what is called Plugin Hybrid. You cannot charge a Prius / Insight from the Grid, so dont try to put Volt in that Category.

    Its correct to include Volt & Leaf in Plugin & EV category.

    The base model Prius & Insight should highly boost their sales. Also the CT200h, Sonata & Focus Hybrids should boost the Hybrid sales.

    While for the Plugins, the Prius Plugin & Focus EV should boost their sales.

    Certainly the higher gas prices will push the sales Hybrids & Plugins Up.

  • Anonymous

    Hold on guys.

    Currently there is only 1 Plugin and 1 EV, so Hybridcars cannot 2 separate categories for them.

    When the Prius plugin comes, the Volt and Prius PEVs will be brought under Plugin category.

    When the Focus EV comes, the Leaf & Focus will be brought under EV category.

    So until then, adjust with Leaf & Volt under the Plugin EV category.

  • Anonymous

    There are 30 Hybrids, out of this 5 (Vue, Aura, Malibu, Mariner & Milan) are gone.

    Some of them like X6, ML45, LS600h, GS450h, Hybrid7 are very low sellers. They sell in the same volume as Hummer H1 & H2 in its last days.

    Ideally the upcoming models and the brisk sales of Leaf could pull down the prices of Hybrids and push their sales up. Higher gas prices could also give a boost to Hybrids.

  • Anonymous


    Your predictions are good. Many predicted that auto sales will be in 12 – 13 million range, but it ended up at 11.6 million.

    The rising fuel prices and economy could make it near impossible to make any predictions. Rising auto sales in China and the Rest of the world will drastically increase gasoline / diesel prices. Either this could increase Hybrid sales or an economic damage could pull down the overall auto & hybrid sales.

    Best way to PREVENT a Worldwide Economic Collapse will be to buy more Hybrids, use Public Transit to reduce our Oil consumption.
    If u feel that a Hybrid is expensive, at-least buy a used Hybrid.
    Also if your Home uses Oil for Heating, please switch over to Natgas.

  • Max Reid

    BIG THANKS to for printing the Sales of Plugins & EV.

    At sales of 326 units, Volt has outsold 18 Hybrids in this list.
    A person driving a PEV like Volt which can run on both Electricity & Gas have lot more bragging rights than many Big Expensive Hybrids in this list like Tahoe, Yukon, Escalade, GS450, LS600, ML450, X6 and so on while at the same time bringing big savings in fuel costs.

    Some big hotels are already installing Fast Chargers and giving VIP treatment for those who drive PEVs & EVs into their Hotels for a stay.

    This will help many Americans to learn the progress of HEVs, PEVs & EVs. Actually there are also
    20 Million Flexfuels
    14 Million LPG
    12 Million CNG

    Somewhere down the road, there are also FEVs (Fuelcell EV) which could hit the market in the next 2-3 years and I expect to see its sales in

  • Anonymous

    Tesla Roadster sales can also be included in this. Soon other vehicles are coming in.

  • Yegor

    Even with a new lower price $18,200 Honda Insight sold only 1,637 units. This is super amazing! The price is is only $1,000 more than the base Toyota Yaris 5-door automatic hatchback (sold 3,422 units) or $2,000 more than Ford Fiesta 5-door automatic hatchback (sold 5,212 units).

    Honda Insight is clearly a better deal – it is much less expansive in use – it will quickly return (in around 3 years) the small investment.

    Why???????????????? (shocked)

  • Yegor

    Another “why” is Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. It sold only 424 units out of all 2,502 sold units. It is the same price as Lincoln MKZ none-hybrid.


    I guess lots of people are still not trusting hybrids. Actually now we know how many – more than 80% of people.

  • Yegor

    Unfortunately my estimates for hybrids are worse for the next year 🙁
    We are going to see a lot more direction injection engines next year and hybrids will take a blow. This year Ford Escape Hybrid took a blow from Chevy Equinox Direct Injection. CAFE requirements are not strict enough for 2011 – CAFE MPG 30 for cars and CAFE MPG 24 for trucks and SUVs. All manufactures average fuel economy are already much higher than CAFE requirements (except Chrysler) so no gains for hybrids in 2011.

    Plug-ins will be sold out this year but because production is limited. Plug-ins will be bought up by enthusiasts.

  • juxtapos99

    Good point. Why not have the Tesla Roadster on this list?

    Some at OPEC have asked for $100 oil price targets, so $3.50 gas could be the norm. Think about China again selling more cars than the US so gas prices could make hybrids do much better this year.

    Sorry guys my next-vehicle-will-be-electric promise was broken. My wife and I are starting a family soon so we wanted good crossover SUVs for safety. We wound up with two vehicles each with about a 300hp engine and 20mpg but it’s ok we both work from home and we each only drive about 5K miles/year. Some weeks I don’t even leave the house.

  • Charles

    Yegor, I think a lot of hybrid customers are also Consumer Report readers. CR does not recommend the Insight because it did not perform well in their tests. It did great in reliability and MPGs.

  • Anonymous


    I guess buyers want affordable lease rate or low finance rate for low monthly payment, esp. for for those considering economy cars. Price may only be part of the equation.

  • Anonymous

    Honda is the only company selling Partial Hybrid (IMA) while all others sell either Full Hybrid like in US & Japan or Mild Hybrid like in Europe.

    Also there is a opinion that Insight has cheap interior. Honda has to stop this opinion.

    By all means, Insight will get the return when compared to Fit, Matrix, Versa and is far better than Corolla or Civic when it comes to trunk space.

    Also its surprising as how Civic-H is able to sell 900 + units with such a high price. Looks more like Honda itself is manipulating.

  • MJ Park

    Can I know the hybrid sales for each state in US?

  • Collin Burnell

    Are they selling the Transit Connect EV yet?

  • lowashington

    What is the source of your dashboard data? I’d like to use this information in a forecast model I’m developing…but I’d like to understand the source, and any assumptions made in generating this data.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Donna Massachusetts

    What is going to happen to all these batteries at the end of the lives of these vehicles? Will that create another crisis worse than the emissions, gas and oil crisis’ we are seeing now?

  • Dom

    “In addition, Volkswagen is also just around from delivering on promises to introduce high-volume hybrids.”

    More interesting than that, the new 2012 Passat is going to have a TDI (diesel) option again, and offer a manual transmission to boot. Yay!!

  • Anonymous

    Donna Massachusetts

    What happened to billions of batteries that came out our toys, walkmans, cameras, laptops, power tools, vehicles, the same this will happen to the batteries that comes of Hybrid Vehicles.

    They will be safely recycled and they wont stay in the atmosphere like the pollution from Oil.

  • Anonymous

    CR-Z falls off the cliff and Honda is considering a gas alone model, Civic-H is not going to recover either with its high price.

    Meanwhile Insight is continuing its ascent probably with the base model. No idea as when the Fit Hybrid will be launched here and what will be its price.

    Expect Insight to perform better in US in 2011.

  • Anonymous

    FMC Civic, along with hybrid model with lithium battery, is coming within the next ‘few’ months (some say Mar., some say Apr.)
    Every Civic will have at least 40 MPG.

  • Anonymous

    Toyota Prius sales in the U.S.
    2007 181,221 (All time record, I believe)
    2008 158,884
    2009 139,682
    2010 140,928

    Q: When will Prius, without counting those coming models/variants, hit another sales record in the U.S.?

  • Anonymous

    Lexus HS 250h sales:
    2009 6,699 (note: on sale in 2009 for less than five months)
    2010 10,663

  • Jay

    Thanks for including the plug-in figures.

    There is also the Think City plug-in, the Norwegian electric car assembled in Elkhart, Indiana, They shipped 15 vehicles last year to fleet customers in Indiana and have shipped another 17 pre-sold vehicles so far this year.

    Would love to see them included along with the more heavily promoted Leaf and Volt since the Think is highway capable and not an NEV..

    Someone also mentioned including Tesla sales figures. That would be also be nice.

    Thanks for Dashboard every month.

  • Yegor

    Some interesting info:
    Ford Escape Hybrid article on Wikipedia was viewed 6,000 in December 2010 but only 877 vehicles were sold.

    It means lots of people are considering it (I think even much more than those who looked at Wikipedia article) but not buying it.

  • Anonymous

    I think Toyota sold most of the Prius in Japan itself, thats why the US sales are lesser. This year, it may the slightly more because of the Prius-v.

    The promised Prius Package-I is delivered only in low volumes that too only to fleet customers. Expect Insight sales to increase because of their base model which costs $18,200 only.

  • Anonymous

    In Year-1999, few hundred Insights were sold when it was launched in USA in December that year.

    That should have been fraction of a %age of the 16 million + vehicles sold in this Country.

    Today the plugins were in the same position as the hybrids were then.

    This year, 270,000 + hybrids were sold. Expect plugins to hit this target in less than 10 years.

  • pickupdoctor

    I think hybrid cars should add Tesla Roadster to Leaf and Volt list. Especially since Tesla Roadster as well as Leaf are two cars sold in US that are Fully Electric Cars. I agree that Volt should get a separate category. Main reason is that many people will probably get lazy after a while and drive the car using gas in the tank instead of charging it every night.

    This does not apply to Leaf or Tesla Roadster, if you don’t plug it in, then it does not go.

  • Anonymous

    I doubt Tesla has any interest to release its sales monthly.

  • Ali Q

    Where can I get 2010 HEV sales of other countries?

  • Jlynn

    Does anyone have the global breakdown of sales for HEVs?
    Mainly looking for 2010 sales split between N. America, Asia, and Europe…

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