J.D. Power: Annual U.S. Hybrid Sales Beyond 1 Million by 2015

The economic recession and low gas prices recently have taken their toll on consumer interest in fuel-efficient alternative power cars. But that’s about to turn around according to research firm J.D. Power.

In a new report, J.D. Power analysts said that global sales of electric-drive cars are expected to reach 940,000 units this year compared with 732,000 units last year, with the number jumping beyond 3 million in 2015. Despite the growth, that would represent a modest 3.4 percent of global light-vehicle sales. According to the firm, conventional hybrids—rather than plug-in cars—are forecast to make up the vast majority of the sales.

Hybrids in U.S. and EVs in China

The big shift will happen with conventional hybrids in the United States and electric cars in China, according to the report. J.D. Power also said it expected the U.S. to account for 55 percent of the hybrid market by 2015—meaning conventional hybrid sales in the U.S. would grow from less than 300,000 in 2009, to around 1.4 million by 2015. In the United States, that could account for close to 10 percent of the total U.S. market.

Meanwhile, nearly half of the projected 500,000 sales of plug-in cars by 2015 will happen in China. J.D. Power believes that hybrids will be more popular than plug-in cars due to higher cost and limited driving range. (Obviously, this point is up for debate.)

Green Cars and the Real Cost of Gasoline

It’s hard to make accurate and specific forecasts in the green car market—especially between the various emerging electric-drive technologies—but the larger trends are clear. “Concerns about the cost and environmental effect of gasoline, rising worries and energy security in many countries, and the improving performance of alternative fuel vehicles are resulting in rising sales of gas/electric, hybrid, plug-in and battery powered cars worldwide,” the J.D. Power report said.

Evidence of the predicted trend has not yet emerged in the U.S. marketplace. According to Ward’s Auto, U.S. sales of vehicles rated about 30 mpg dropped by 10 percent for the first five months of 2010, compared to the same period in 2009. Sales of the (conventional) Honda Fit fell by 20 percent; Toyota Camry Hybrid dropped 40 percent; and Honda Civic Hybrid sales plummeted by 77 percent.

The J.D. Power report was released as a “Guest Opinion” by financial rating company Standard & Poor’s, and was reported on the website Triple Pundit, among others.


  • John & Regina

    If we were serious about ending our oil addiction, every State would exempt highly fuel-efficient vehicles (say, 50 mpg combined for a car or 32 mpg for an SUV) from sales tax. Not many States offer that exemption yet. Not our backwards-thinking Governor in our supposedly “green” State of Michigan, anyway.

  • Charles

    To me the most interesting part of the article is the 10% drop of 30 MPG vehicles. Just goes to show the very short memory of the US consumer. The cars picked to show the decline are a bit interesting as well.

    The Camry Hybrid now has some real nation wide competition in the Ford Fusion Hybrid. The Camry, Fusion, Milan and Altima hybrids combined sold about 19% more through May of this year. So the shift has been away from the Camry, not away from hybrids in the mid-size sedan segment. The Camry suffered for many reasons. The better MPG of the Fusion. The improved perceived quality of Ford in general and the Fusion in particular. The perceived drop in quality for Toyota caused by the recalls.

    The Honda Civic Hybrid has suffered for a few reasons as well. The Honda Insight costs less, gets about the same MPGs and is a more efficient hatchback design. Honda’s lack of Civic Hybrid advertizing has not helped. While the Insight has not met Honda’s expectations, it has dwarfed the sales of the Civic Hybrid. Honda’s combined hybrid sales are up about 14% or about 1394 cars.

    If you look at Honda’s small cars (Fit and Civic) you would find that the combined sales went up about 4%.

    Another reason for the drop maybe the expectations of new vehicles. The Ford Fiesta is here now, and not too far off is the new Focus. The new Chevy Cruze and Volt are coming this year. If I was shopping for a new small vehicle I would wait to at least look at the Fords and Chevys.

    Not sure what to make of all of this, but I am not too worried about the drop in high MPG vehicles, yet. If the trend continues, that will really worry me.

  • Civic diehard

    The Civic has been Canada’s top-selling passenger car for 12 consecutive years. It’s also one of the most-stolen cars….go figure! The higher price of gas in Canada (currently $4.50/gallon) I’m certain contributes to the number of Civics on the road here. Of the more than 5.3 million Honda and Acura vehicles that the Honda of Canada Manufacturing  assembly plant in Alliston, Ontario, has produced over the past 23 years, more than 3 million of those have been Honda Civics. Canadian-built Civics have a bullet-proof reputation for durability and fuel economy and you can often find more than one in a single driveway. I have a ’96 with 360,000 kilometers and it hasn’t needed a single repair, yet. The only expenses have been oil changes, a new battery, wiper blades, tires, front brake pads, and two timing belts. It still has the original rear brakes, clutch and exhaust and gets 50MPG+ with mostly highway driving. A co-worker recently traded-in an ’86 with over 1,000,000 kilometers on the original engine! The fact they are often the only car that will start in sub-zero weather without a boost could be another reason they sell in such large numbers. An interesting thing about the Civic, and other Hondas, is that for some reason they frequently exceed government fuel efficiency test results, if driven carefully, whereas other cars often fall short in real-world driving conditions. When my current Civic decides to die (or I hand it down to my nephew) it’s unlikely I’ll consider anything other than another Honda product to replace it. Whether or not it has a hybrid engine will be determined by the price of fuel at that time, and the payback period.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    I wonder if part of the decrease in 30 mpg+ cars is due to the upcoming Volt, Leaf, and possibly Fusion EV and PHEV. I, for one, know a lot of people who care about energy consumption and are hanging on to what they are currently driving while waiting for an oil-free (or optional) option.