Hybrid Leaders Pass Major Milestones
Toyota announced today that combined sales of Toyota and Lexus gas-electric vehicles in the United States topped the 1 million mark. This comes just one day after Ford announced that the 100,000th Ford hybrid SUV rolled off the assembly line of the company’s Kansas City assembly plant—and one month after Honda announced that it had sold more than 300,000 hybrids worldwide.
The sales milestones provide a stark picture of the relative size of the three major players in the hybrid market. Ford is celebrating reaching a level of hybrid sales that Toyota passed approximately five years ago. Toyota has produced about 10 times the number of hybrid units as Ford, and it has Honda beat by a multiple of about five.
Toyota announced the sale of 1 million hybrids globally in June 2007—about two years ahead of Honda’s global sales mark of 300,000 in February 2009.
The remaining players with hybrids on the market barely make a blip on the radar. General Motors has sold slightly more than 20,000 hybrids so far (despite having eight different hybrid models on the market); Nissan has not yet reached the 10,000 mark; and Chrysler hybrid sales number in the hundreds.
Despite Toyota’s past dominance in the green car market, its lead is likely to dwindle in the coming years. Both Honda and Ford have aggressive sales targets for hot new hybrid models: the 2010 Honda Insight, which is priced to sell below $20,000, and Ford’s first hybrid sedan, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which promises city fuel economy of 41 mpg. Ford is doubling its production of hybrid vehicles this year with the introduction of the Fusion Hybrid, and its sibling, the Mercury Milan Hybrid.
“As we celebrate our 100,000th hybrid, America’s interest in hybrid vehicles keeps growing, as does Ford’s commitment to advanced powertrain technologies that deliver greater fuel economy, lower emissions and help enhance our country’s energy security,” said Ford Chairman Bill Ford.
Nearly every major automaker will introduce a gas-electric vehicle in the next two to three years—and many are planning plug-in and alternative fuel models, including a growing number of clean diesel vehicles. General Motors continues to garner publicity for the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, due in late 2010, and recently announced that it hopes to introduce 26 new hybrids by 2014.
The competition may grow fierce, but Toyota apparently does not intend to lose its lead in hybrids. The third-generation Toyota Prius, which goes on sale in April, offers better performance and more features than its predecessor, while maintaining an average fuel economy of 50 mpg. The company is scheduled to introduce 10 new hybrids globally by 2012.
“For Toyota and Lexus, 2009 can easily be called ‘the year of the hybrid’ with three new offerings including our seventh hybrid model with the launch of the Lexus HS 250h,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motors Sales USA. “In addition to our growing hybrid presence over the next few years, expanded hybrid offerings from competitors will not only drive innovation and improvement for consumers, it will continue to help improve the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”