June 2009 Dashboard: A Hybrid Recovery?

in partnership with Polk

Could the recent rise in gas prices and the introduction of new hybrid sedans from Toyota and Honda be leading a hybrid recovery? It’s probably too early to tell, but the numbers look positive. There’s only a 10-day supply of the new Prius available on dealer lots. And Ford attributed its competitive numbers, in part, to its hybrids.

Analysis of June 2009 Sales Numbers

Hybrids Worldwide

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

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

The worst seems to be over in the retail auto market, although sales remain well below normal levels. Auto sales totaled 859,847 units in May, down 28 percent from last year. One bright spot, however, is hybrids: 26,205 hybrids sold last month, a 5 percent increase from May 2008.

Could the recent rise in gas prices and the introduction of new hybrid sedans from Toyota and Honda be leading a hybrid recovery? To be fair, using last summer’s hybrid sales numbers as a benchmark may not be the best approach. Gas prices shot up last spring, so manufacturers were caught off guard by swelling hybrid demand. By May, waiting lists for models such as the Prius had reappeared, and sales numbers reflected the supply constraints.

But hybrids are showing signs of life nonetheless, and are leading the recovery for some manufacturers. Ford, which experienced the lowest sales decline of any major automaker in May, attributed its sales success in part to its growing family of hybrid models, including the new Fusion sedan. More than 10 percent of Ford Fusions sold in June were hybrid versions, lifting Fusion sales to just 35 units below those of the Camry Hybrid. Another bright spot last month was Prius sales, which rose 10 percent from last year’s levels as dealers cleared remaining 2009 models from their lots and initiated sales of the redesigned 2010 version. So far, demand for the new Prius is strong, with less than a 10-day supply of the new hybrid available on dealer lots.

Not all hybrid models were rolling out of showrooms. Most General Motors hybrid models fell, dragging down the company’s share of the hybrid market to its lowest level this year. However, there are signs that GM—and its new owner, the US government—view hybrids as a central component of the automotive market’s recovery. While GM’s future hybrid plans have not been fully disclosed, last month Hitachi announced plans to dramatically expand its lithium ion battery production capacity, spurred on by future orders for at least 100,000 hybrid battery packs from General Motors.

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. The historical sales graph for top-selling hybrid models shows estimated 2008 volumes based on sales-to-date.

Hybrids sold in the US (June 2009): 26,205

US hybrid sales for June 2009

Model Units vs. last month vs. June 2008 CYTD vs. CYTD 2008
Prius 12,998 28.8% 10.5% 55,751 39.0%
Insight 2,079 -25.2% n/a 7,524 n/a
Camry 2,093 -28.8% 31.5% 13,007 -57.4%
Fusion 2,058 9.6% n/a 5,410 n/a
Civic 1,583 -23.8% -41.6% 12,328 -35.2%
Escape 1,295 -23.9% -24.7% 7,182 -29.1%
Highlander 1,098 -18.7% -27.3% 6,359 -51.3%
Altima 666 93.0% -50.0% 3,174 43.1%
RX400h 527 -34.1% -60.4% 5,798 -35.8%
Malibu 489 -30.7% 65.8% 2,631 791.9%
Tahoe 253 -8.7% -20.9% 1,710 78.4%
Vue 239 5.3% -13.7% 1,507 82.7%
Milan 186 -7.9% n/a 529 n/a
Escalade 155 -25.1% n/a 883 n/a
Yukon 139 -11.5% -38.8% 959 28.6%
Silverado 123 -5.4% n/a 470 n/a
Mariner 110 -12.0% -42.8% 709 -45.2%
Aura 56 60.0% 86.7% 190 91.9%
GS450h 27 -37.2% -63.0% 208 -54.7%
LS600hL 31 14.8% -57.5% 157 -75.4
All hybrids 26,205 2.0% 52.2% 126,527 -31.3%
All vehicles 859,847 -7.1% -27.7% 4,810,145 -35.2%

US hybrid sales for June 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 16,874
2 New York 4,534
3 Texas 4,389
4 Florida 4,220
5 Illinois 3,332
6 Washington 3,018
7 New Jersey 2,873
8 Massachusetts 2,571
9 Virginia 2,569
10 Pennsylvania 2,432
11 Maryland 2,226
12 Ohio 2,064
13 Arizona 1,777
14 Colorado 1,724
15 Michigan 1,629

*Registrations CYTD April 2009

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 District of Columbia 0.60
2 Washington 0.48
3 California 0.47
4 Vermont 0.43
5 Massachusetts 0.40
6 Maryland 0.40
7 Colorado 0.37
8 New Hampshire 0.35
9 Virginia 0.34
10 Connecticut 0.33
11 New Jersey 0.33
12 Oregon 0.32
13 Arizona 0.30
14 New Mexico 0.27
15 Minnesota 0.26
US State Average 0.24

*Registrations CYTD April 2009

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 8,274
2 New York 5,886
3 San Francisco 5,886
4 Washington, DC 2,933
5 Chicago 2,714
6 Boston 2,954
7 Seattle 2,542
8 Philadelphia 2,017
9 Dallas-Ft. Worth 1,527
10 Denver 1,508
11 Phoenix 1,468
12 San Diego 1,403
13 Minneapolis-St. Paul 1,281
14 Atlanta 1,242
15 Baltimore 1,214

*Registrations CYTD April 2009

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 2.45
2 San Francisco 2.06
3 Los Angeles 1.49
4 Seatlle 1.49
5 San Diego 1.37
6 Lafayette, IN 1.31
7 Washington, DC 1.30
8 Santa Barbara, CA 1.20
9 Monterey, CA 1.16
10 Austin, TX 1.15
11 Boston 1.12
12 Baltimore 01.11
13 Denver 1.07
14 Burlington, VT 0.98
15 Tulsa, OK 0.91
  US Metro Area Average 0.49

*Registrations CYTD April 2009

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  • Victor Solis

    Thank you for getting your dashboard out early this month. I really enjoy your analysis. I’m adding up your sales by model and coming up with 26,014 units, is there another model not reported?
    Also, check your All Hybrids total under the table.

  • Luis C. Busquets Pérez

    I got the same. They all sum up 26.014 but you mention All hybrids 25.205 and at the beginning you said 26.205. Which are the correct numbers?

  • Editor

    Typos and math corrected. Thanks for your patience.

  • Nelson Lu

    The Prius and Insight are not sedans…

  • Scott Z

    They are not sedans? What do you base this on?

    In reality, a coupe is strictly defined by its interior volume or space. Distinctions between a coupe and a sedan has little to do with doors and are made clear by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which standardizes definitions of the different types of cars on the market. Measurements of a coupe and a sedan are as follows:

    Coupe equals less than 33 cubic feet (.934 cubic m).
    Sedan is equal to or greater than 33 cubic feet.

    Both the Prius and Insight have more then 33 cubic feet interiors.

  • Nelson Lu

    Scott, this is how Webster’s defines “sedan”:

    a 2- or 4-door automobile seating four or more persons and usually having a permanent top

    Both the Prius and the Insight have *5* doors; therefore, they’re not sedans.

    What they do fit is this definition:

    an automobile the back of which consists of a hatch that opens upward

    Also known as a hatchback.

  • henry hsu

    Dear Sirs,

    I wish to comment that you provide the most comprehensive informations about hybrid cars, in your web site! It is interesting to note that Toyota is still the market leader so can I assume that Prius is still the top model? Please advise.

    Rgds, Henry Hsu

  • Andy

    Interesting Data, looks as if hybrids are making a strong run. With more people looking for green products this trend should certainly increase.

  • Locksmith

    Your data Analysis is Awesome.

    Thank You!