February 2011 Dashboard: Hybrid Sales Outpace Growing Auto Market

The HybridCars.com monthly sales dashboard is a collaboration of HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates, a Michigan-based market research firm focusing on automotive issues including the hybrid and electric vehicle market.

Renewed consumer interest in buying cars and a jump in gas prices combined to revive hybrid sales in February. The hybrid market is up 39 percent from a year ago, compared to an annual jump of 27.2 percent for the overall car market. As usual, the Toyota Prius dominated hybrid sales, tallying 13,539 sales—a 70 percent jump compared to last February (when Toyota was in the midst of its public relations nightmare over safety issues.) Year-to-date hybrid sales increased by 25 percent, while Toyota’s hybrid sales increased by 29 percent.

The Prius stands alone as the clear leader in hybrid sales—while the rest of the market divides between the modest sellers from Ford and Honda, and the “me too” set of low-sellers from General Motors and various German automakers. Ford saw decent gains with the Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid compared to last month—42 percent and 53 percent hikes respectively—while Honda holds firm to its second-place position for hybrids. That’s despite modest Honda Civic Hybrid sales, as the automaker phased out the current model and prepares to bring in a redesigned version with improved lithium ion batteries.

The rise in hybrid sales compared to overall market is interesting because the growth in general auto sales was driven by at least two factors: (1) the growth in the economy; and (2) the growth in incentives. These incentives were of course focused on a much broader base of vehicles than the hybrid market, thus putting the hybrids at a modest disadvantage. Nonetheless, hybrid growth exceeded the overall market, indicating the strength of consumer interest in gas-electric vehicles.

Despite all the buzz and marketing around plug-in cars, sales of the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt fell by 15 percent compared to last month. The EV producers are apparently having trouble delivering to its very eager first customers. The delay could be explained by logistics, or in the case of the LEAF by models routed to Japanese customers—or in the case of the Volt, by some dealers leaving models in showrooms for buyers willing to pay thousands of dollars over MSRP. There’s also evidence that dealers want a Volt in their showroom to bring in curious buyers—who then might shift to more affordable new models like the Chevy Cruze.

Diesel sales also lagged in February, increasing by 1.5 percent compared to last month (taking the edge off a big jump from last month). One explanation is rising diesel fuel prices, which last week stood at an average of $3.71—compared to $3.38 average for gasoline. With trouble in the Middle East, and oil prices dancing above $100 a barrel, all the prices at the pump are up, but diesel fuel is rising faster, up $0.85 from a year ago.

Forecasters are predicting $4 gas by summer, which practically guarantees rising hybrid sales, just as new models from Toyota, Hyundai and others hit the market. This year promises to put hybrids back on a growth path similar to the first half of 2008, the last time gas prices hit $4.

February 2011 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (February 2011): 23,263
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.35%

US hybrid sales for February 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. February 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Toyota Prius 13,539 27.3% 69.9% 24,174 46.9%
Honda Insight 1,722 10.8% 14.5% 3,276 -1.4%
Ford Fusion 1,379 42.3% 11.7% 2,348 0.9%
Honda CR-Z 1,091 22.0% n/a 1,985 n/a
Lexus RX450h 999 9.5% 12.2% 1,911 0.6%
Toyota Camry 993 15.5% -1.8% 1,853 -1.3%
Ford Escape 795 52.9% 13.2% 1,315 -2.1%
Toy. Highlander 707 2.6% 108.6% 1,396 61.4%
Honda Civic 532 -18.5% 53.8% 1,185 97.8%
Linc. MKZ Hybrid 395 6.8% n/a 765 n/a
Altima 366 0.3% -40.9% 731 -56.4%
Lexus HS 250h 183 -36.0% -74.3% 469 -76.1%
Porsche Cayenne 142 -32.7% n/a 353 n/a
Cad. Escalade 86 -13.1% -41.1% 185 -6.6%
GMC Yukon 60 15.4% -30.2% 112 -29.6%
Chevy Silverado 47 -75.5% -26.6% 239 109.6%
Chevy Tahoe 45 -31.8% -45.8% 111 -53.0%
Mazda Tribute 37 2.8% -15.9% 73 -14.1%
BMW Hybrid 7 35 9.4% n/a 67 n/a
Lexus GS450h 33 73.7% 50.0% 52 -17.5%
Mercedes S400 24 -7.7% -64.7% 50 -67.5%
GMC Sierra 20 -4.8% -52.4% 41 -53.9%
BMW X6 9 80.0% -55.0% 14 -67.4%
Lexus LS600hL 7 -12.5% -53.3% 15 -37.5%
Mercedes ML450 0 -100.0% -100.0% 1 -99.3
All hybrids 23,263 19.5% 39.0% 42,726 25.3%
All vehicles 989,808 21.2% 27.2% 1,806,606 22.5%

February 2011 Plug-in Electric Car Sales Numbers

Plug-in cars sold in the US (February 2011): 348
Plug-in Take-Rate: 0.04%

US plug-in electric sales for February 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. February 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Chevrolet Volt 281 -12.5% n/a 602 n/a
Nissan LEAF 67 -23.0% n/a 154 n/a
All plug-in cars 348 -14.9% n/a 756 n/a
All vehicles 989,808 21.2% 27.2% 1,806,606 22.5%

February 2011 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (February 2011): 6,337
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.64%

US clean diesel sales for February 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. February 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
VW Jetta 3,404 15.9% 49.8% 6,342 45.7%
Volkswagen Golf 624 8.0% 93.2% 1,202 130.7%
BMW X5 538 -16.3% -38.1% 1,181 -16.1%
Mercedes GL320 381 36.6% 135.2% 660 112.2%
Audi Q7 343 10.6% 128.7% 653 68.3%
BMW 335d 290 81.3% 62.9% 450 45.6%
Mercedes ML320 205 -25.5% 105.0% 480 192.7%
Audi A3 184 -60.9% -24.6% 655 35.9
VW Touareg 176 3.5% 28.5% 346 13.8%
Mercedes E320 162 -27.0% 1,146.2% 384 1,645.5%
Mercedes R320 30 -30.2% 0.0% 73 19.7%
Jeep Gr Cherokee -100.0% -100.0% 152 -23.2%
All clean diesels 6,337 1.5% 37.5% 12,578 47.6%
All vehicles 989,808 21.2% 27.2% 1,806,606 22.5%

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  • Emc2

    If you look at the cumulative sales between 1999 to 2010 (see the Wikipedia article “Hybrid electric vehicles in the United States”) plus the 2011 CYTD reported here, it seems possible that next month one or two milestones might be reached, Prius cumulative US sales reaching 1 million, and all model hybrid cumulative sales reaching 2 million. Please keep us posted. I bet the Prius will make it on March and the 2 million mark will be reached no later April.

  • Anonymous

    According to the Wiki article, cumulative sales of Prius in the U.S. up to the end of 2010 is 955,101. Therefore, leaving 44,899 to sell in 2011 to reach the one million mark.

  • Emc2

    Yes, if you add the CYTD 24,174 reported by Hybrid.com means that with sales of 20.725 during March, the one million mark will be reached. It seems attainable.

  • Emc2

    I just hope I won’t take 10 years for plug-in electric vehicles to reach the 1 million mark. Mr. Obama goal for 2015 seems quite optimistic indeed.

  • Andrew T

    I saw a Hyundai Sonata hybrid on the road today. There is also a Kia Optima hybrid, although haven’t seen that yet….any sales figures on the Korean hybrids?

  • obi-wan kenobi

    Rumor is that the Hyundai Sonata hybrid South Korean factory has stopped production, then rewired and retrofitted all hybrid cars with noisemakers that operate at speeds of 1-20 mph, to satisfy the U. S. Congress who caved to demands from National Foundation of the Blind requiring this noisemaker retrofit – true? – false? Where is this Hyundai hybrid car in the production and sales stream right now? Can anyone help us with accurate information? Are Pruis or any other hybrids being fitted with noisemakers?

  • Outrunner

    What about Huandai Sonata Hybrid? Still not hit the showrooms? A promising hybrid alternativ when it become available.

  • juxtapos99

    Pres. Obama wants 1,000,000 plug-ins on the road in 2015. Only 756 have sold so far this year, but i think that goal might happen.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the number of plug-ins sold increases over the next five years.

  • Dom

    “Diesel sales also lagged in February, increasing by 1.5 percent compared to last month (taking the edge off a big jump from last month)”

    That’s a bit misleading I’d say. Sure for the entire lineup it only rose 1.5%. The main volume seller (Jetta TDI) rose by 15.9% vs. last month. It’ll be interesting to see how well the upcoming new Passat TDI sells…

  • Anonymous

    There were reports that delivery of Sonata hybrid had been delayed at least to the end of the month and there were less than a thousand units ‘in transit’. It seems any major sales of Sonata hybrid would not show up until April.

  • Annon

    I believe Emc2 made a small mistake in his forecast. Prius sales for February were 13,5K so it would take two more months, not one for the Prius to reach the 1 million milestone (April-May). The same is good for total HEV sales, I guess the 2 million mark will be reached by June-July. I guess he/she used two-month sales instead of one month. Of course, if gasoline prices keep climbing it could be reached sooner.

    Also, I think it would be nice if HybridCars would also report sales of the Tesla Roadster and for the Smart ED (though the latter is leasing only).

  • Yegor

    Thank you very much for posting the tables so promptly!

    Unfortunately I am not at all impressed with hybrid market share growth.
    I am actually very much surprised that it is only 2.35% when crude oil price is almost $100.
    Hybrid market share were 2.55% in 2007 when average crude oil price was $67.37.
    Hybrid market share were 2.79% in 2009 when average crude oil price was $54.24.
    Hybrid Take-Rate today is very disappointing. It is obvious that crude oil price will continue to climb up and hybrids are the best choice because they are least expensive in terms of cost of ownership. Yet people are still not buying them!!!
    Why??? Is it so bad with math in USA?

  • Max Reid

    Look at the sales of 40 MPG cars like Cruze and Elantra.

    Cruze sold 18,556
    Elantra sold 12,289

    Ofcourse these sedans dont have as much space as Prius or Insight. But they cost a lot lesser.

    Good that Insight sales have increased slightly. Thats the only competition to Prius even though it sold many times lesser.

    So ML450 sold 0 units, LS600h sold 7 and X6 sold 9 units. Will those vehicles continue.

    As expected HS250h sales are going down and the MKZ has overtaken it in sales.

    When the CT200h, Sonata and new Civic Hybrid comes, may be the Hybrid share will increase.

  • Anonymous

    In Japan auto sales
    Prius takes #1 with 19,110
    Fit 16,876
    Vitz 16,484

    I think Toyota must have reduced the sale price of Prius in Japan.

  • Anonymous

    GM sold 238 Hybrids with 5 models and 281 Plugin Hybrids with just 1 model. Why not they sell a Hybrid Version of a small Hatch like Volt.

    Is there anything preventing them. In the last 15 days, gas prices have increased more than 30 cents, no idea as how the sales will be in March.

    Meanwhile the Prius v will be sold in Japan as Minivan with 3 rows of seats which means a 7/8 seater. It will have a Lithium Ion battery and cost 36 K + while the version with Nickel battery will cost 28 K +. Hybrids are getting very expensive.


    In Japan the sale of Minivehicles which has 660 cc has captured 38% of the overall market share.

    Moral of the story : Start buying smaller vehicles to shield ourselves against the high cost of vehicles and the gas.

  • l’autre Anon

    Max Reid said: “Look at the sales of 40 MPG cars like Cruze and Elantra.

    Cruze sold 18,556
    Elantra sold 12,289″

    Let’s take a reality check.
    1) First stop, Busting the 40-MPG Myth: Only Hybrids Really Reach 40 [http://www.hybridcars.com/gas-mileage/40-mpg-myth-only-hybrids-really-reach-40-29498.html]
    “Advertisements from Ford, Chevy, and Hyundai have proudly attached the “40 MPG” badge-of-honor to these models in campaigns that are often geared especially to reach a younger, more urban driving demographic. In truth though, there are currently absolutely zero gasoline-only vehicles available in the United States offering EPA-rated combined fuel economy reaching 40 mpg.”

    2) Not all Cruze got the EPA 40 mpg highway rating. (from fueleconomy.gov)
    Chevy Cruze 1.8 M6 26/36 (city/hwy) [14% worse hwy mileage]

    Chevy Cruze 1.8 A6 22/35 (city/hwy) [17% worse hwy mileage]
    Chevy Cruze 1.4 turbo A6 24/36 [14% worse hwy mileage]

    3) Not all Elantra sold in February are EPA 40 mpg highway rated.
    According to Hyundai press release, it sold 8,830 cars with 40-mpg EPA fuel economy highway ratings (i.e. 2011 Elantra sedan) during the month of February.

    Stop spinning the urban myth, plz.

  • l’autre Anon

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is turning up the heat on its investigation into faulty Volkswagen diesel fuel pumps. The administration has announced that it is currently looking into 97,272 diesel Volkswagen and Audi vehicles after receiving a total of 160 complaints about the issue. NHTSA says that in roughly half of those complaints, the bad pumps resulted in an engine stall on the highway or in traffic that prevented the engine from being restarted.

  • Max Reid

    Mr l’autre Anon

    I have a Prius-2007. Still I would say that a new Prius costs 23K, compare this with Cruze or Elantra at around 18K.

    5K is not a small money for many who’s
    salaries are cut
    state taxes are hiked
    food prices increase.

    If I am planning to buy a new car, certainly I would consider the upcoming Focus-Hatch 2012, it has the same interior space as Prius and costs 18K and has 40MPG hwy.

    Or Insight at 18.2 K (Base Model) is the 2nd option.

    Infact for many who commute by Train/Bus and pay more than $1,000 / year for the Train/Bus Pass, paying 5K extra for a Hybrid is a waste and unutilized money.

  • videocipher

    Toyota is set to make a recall of 650,000 Toyota Prius units built between 2004 and 2007 in order to change their water pumps. The recall will start soon, globally.

    Toyota organizes a new recall, this time to fix the water pump of the Prius model. Toyota Prius recall affects 650,000 units world wide, for the models built between 2004 and 2007. The most units affected by the water pump recall are in the United States of America – 378,000 units. The faulty water pump has the role to circulate the cooling fluid in the hybrid system for cooling it and enhance its performances. Until now, the guys of Toyota have not received any complaints about the cooling system of Prius or about the respective water pump.

    The faulty water pump of Toyota Prius allows air bubbles enter the cooling system, leading to reduced performances of the system and slowing the circulation of the cooling fluid. In case of overheating, a dashboard LED lights up, and in extreme situations the model enters in the safety mode, reducing the engine’s power. Once power is reduced, the driver will have to push the throttle harder, leading to an increased fuel consumption and reduced efficiency.

  • Yegor

    Max Reid,

    Basic Ford Focus Hatchback Auto Transmission is actually $19,160.
    Why would you buy Ford Focus if Honda Insight costs less but will save you huge on fuel costs? Even Prius will return the investment in a few years (you will also save on brakes – they last much longer in hybrids).
    From fueleconomy.gov website:
    Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and a fuel price of $3.38 per gallon. Annual Fuel Cost:
    Ford Focus 28/40 MPG – $1536
    Honda Insight 40/43 MPG – $1237
    Toyota Prius 51/48 MPG – $1014


    Can I throw this out there……

    Maybe Ford and others would sell more hybrids if they were available to the public. The Ford Escape Hybrid has been on the market for over 3 years now and IF a dealer has one, they have ONE and they’re selling them above MSRP.

    Why can’t we learn from Toyota and make hybrids available, then maybe we’d see the 10,000+ numbers per month.

    Supply does not equal demand from US manufacturers.

  • Yegor

    Actually Ford Focus 28/40 MPG is only available in Sedan version! (not available in hatchback version!!!) and you have to pay $500 additional to get it!!! (the standard version is 28 city/38 hwy/31 combined MPG = $1,600 for fuel per year).

    Hybrids are even a much better deal with these hidden ICE fees.

  • Max Reid

    Yegor : Thanks for your notes and calculation. Makes sense.

    DMLMA : Escape hybrid has been there since MY-2005, so MY-2011 is the 7th year. The price of that model has gone up steeply and is now 29K. Except the Insight who’s prices have gone down, all other Hybrids are expensive.

    I dont think automakers will drastically reduce the price of Hybrids. May be Chinese automakers should step in, just like their Solar PV makers stepped in and reduced the price / watt of PV Panel by 50% in the last 2 years.

  • l’autre Anon

    Max Reid: “I have a Prius-2007. Still I would say that a new Prius costs 23K, compare this with Cruze or Elantra at around 18K.

    5K is not a small money for many who’s
    salaries are cut
    state taxes are hiked
    food prices increase.”

    Yes, I agree with what you said.
    But a Cruze Eco of 18,175 capable of 40+ mpg highway comes in M/T only, and it’s pretty basic: without cruise control, or USB connection.
    The Eco with A/T that is only rated 37 mpg, and it starts from 19.6k.

    Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and a fuel price of $3.38 per gallon (same as Yegor’s post), Annual Fuel Cost is:
    Cruze Eco M/T – $1536 (from $18,175)
    Cruze Eco A/T – $1690 (from $19,625*, GM package the A/T w/ cruise pkg costing an additional $525)

    * at $19.6k it is not far off Honda Insight LX (19.9k).

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