May 2007 Dashboard

in partnership with Polk

Hybrids Worldwide

"Top 5 global hybrid markets" and "Top 5 US hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations January – March 2007.

In May, Toyota sold a whopping 24,009 units of the Prius, the highest sales level yet for the iconic gas-electric vehicle. "We had huge Memorial Day blowouts. In three days, we sold 40 Priuses. That’s more than twice as many as usual," said Toby Parks, sales team leader, Toyota of Berkeley. "You have the hottest selling vehicle. You have available inventory for that vehicle. You put special pricing on it. They’re going to move." Record-breaking gas prices certainly have an impact, as well.

This level of sales activity removes most remaining questions about the ability for vehicles with gas-electric technology to move into the mainstream. Many industry executives and analysts had assumed that hybrids would not go beyond 2% of the new car market until the end of the decade—if ever—and therefore investment in the technology was unwarranted. In May, the 2% ceiling, which hybrids have not broken since their introduction almost eight years ago, was surpassed.

In May, the Prius was the ninth most popular vehicle in the United States, and the sixth most popular passenger vehicle. The Prius was Toyota’s third biggest seller by volume.

May 2007 Unit Sales
1 Chevrolet Silverado 63,790
2 Ford F-Series 61,939
3 Toyota Camry 50,126
4 Toyota Corolla 45,238
5 Honda Civic 39,993
6 Chevrolet Impala 35,665
7 Honda Accord 31,915
8 Dodge Ram pickup 31,327
9 Toyota Prius 24,009
10 Nissan Altima 23,980

Looking beyond Prius, May reveals another critical factor in the growth of the hybrid market: high rates of buyers opting for hybrid versions of conventional vehicles (also known as "take rates.) This month, 11% of Honda Civic buyers, 19% of Saturn Vue buyers, and 28% of Highlander buyers chose hybrid powertrains. A year ago, 7% of Toyota Camry buyers wanted the hybrid version; in May, it was 14%.

If hybrid versions were offered on the 10 most popular vehicles of the vehicles (listed above), hybrid sales could rise to 10-15% of the market without much difficulty. Before we get too giddy about May numbers, we should remember that simply having a hybrid version of a popular model may not be enough. The Honda Accord Hybrid’s take rate last month was just over 1%. Honda recently announced that the company will not offer a hybrid version of the redesigned Accord, after killing off the Honda Insight last year.)

To sustain hybrid sales, carmakers will need to convince buyers that the hybrid version is substantially "better" than its conventional counterpart. In today’s market, this means offering noticeably higher fuel economy and some all-electric drive capability.

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 2006 volumes based on sales-to-date.

Hybrids sold in the U.S. (May 2007): 47,096

U.S. hybrid sales for May 2007

Model Units vs. 4/07 vs. 5/06
Altima 821 70.0% n/a
Prius 24,009 83.9% 196.3%
Civic 4,520 58.3% 56.4%
Accord 439 38.1% -15.6%
Camry 6,853 55.4% 126.0%
Highlander 3,312 38.3% -11.8%
RX400h 1,746 26.2% -13.0%
GS450h 181 4.0% -38.4%
Escape 2,680 41.8% 10.1%
Mariner 534 38.7% 24.8%
Vue 1,831 95.0% n/a
Aura 170 70.0% n/a
All hybrids 47,096 66.2% 99.9%
All vehicles 1,564,170 16.8% 5.0%

U.S. hybrid sales for May 2007 by manufacturer and model

United States Sales by Make

U.S. hybrid market historical sales (1999 – 2006) with 2007 forecast

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 10,000 new hybrids on the road in 2006. 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 19,879
2 Florida 3,872
3 Texas 3,660
4 New York 3,657
5 Washington 3,104
6 Virginia 2,670
7 Illinois 2,592
8 Pennsylvania 2,367
9 Massachusetts 2,238
10 Oregon 2,033
11 New Jersey 2,023
12 Maryland 1,966
13 Colorado 1,912
14 North Carolina 1,806
15 Arizona 1,707

*Registrations CYTD March 2007

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 Oregon 0.5584
2 California 0.5502
3 Washington 0.4937
4 Vermont 0.4911
5 District of Columbia 0.4450
6 Colorado 0.4098
7 Connecticut 0.3587
8 Virginia 0.3528
9 Maryland 0.3510
10 Massachusetts 0.3498
11 Arizona 0.2874
12 New Mexico 0.2821
13 Maine 0.2777
14 Rhode Island 0.2750
15 New Hampshire 0.2710
  US State Average 0.2257

*Registrations CYTD March 2007

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 8,580
2 San Francisco 6,058
3 New York 4,342
4 Washington, DC 2,878
5 Seattle 2,698
6 Boston 2,229
7 Chicago 2,118
8 Philadelphia 1,960
9 Sacramento 1,801
10 Denver 1,704
11 Portland, OR 1,693
12 San Diego 1,603
13 Phoenix 1,418
14 Dallas-Ft. Worth 1,122
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 1,107

*Registrations CYTD March 2007

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 4.16
2 San Francisco, CA 2.57
3 Monterey, CA 2.29
4 Santa Barbara, CA 1.67
5 Seattle 1.59
6 San Diego 1.56
7 Los Angeles 1.55
8 Bend, OR 1.53
9 Charlottesville, VA 1.46
10 Sacramento, CA 1.34
11 Eugene, OR 1.30
12 Washington, DC 1.28
13 Denver 1.20
14 Eureka, CA 1.20
15 Burlington, VT 1.05
  US Metro Area Average 0.49

*Registrations CYTD March 2007

Looking Ahead

Prius sales keep climbing, but who’s buying them? Conventional wisdom says that the typical Prius owner lives in a left-leaning state on one of the country’s coasts. After Toyota sold over 19,000 Priuses last March, we took a closer look. After adjusting for population, we found that the leading states for Prius purchases were Oregon, Vermont, California, and Washington (in that order). No surprise there. But a little further down the list, there were some unexpected results. Wisconsin and Iowa made the top 15, and Kansas wasn’t far behind. In fact, last March, buyers in the Midwest accounted for almost 20% of all U.S. Prius registrations.

The Prius is still far more popular in San Francisco than in Sioux City. But the March registration numbers show that the Prius is catching on in places that have not traditionally been viewed as promising hybrid markets. In March, car shoppers in Iowa were more likely to purchase a Prius than shoppers in Washington, DC, a fact that begins to dismantle some stereotypes. And even small Midwestern cities like Ames, IA (population 51,572) now boast Prius clubs.

Midwestern gas prices, which are traditionally higher in California and the West Coast, are also catching up. In the last week of May, the Midwest region saw a 41% increase compared with this week last year. That’s the largest year-over-year percentage increase for any region, according to Energy Information Administration.

The hybrid wave apparently breaks in California and washes into the heartland—as new waves of hybrid interest continue to hit the West Coast. "Gas prices bring more awareness to the Prius," said Toby Parks, sales team leader, Toyota of Berkeley. "The next huge spike in the car is going to come at $4 gallon." After a period of dealership incentives during past few months, Parks expects to begin selling Priuses over invoice again. "Consumers should expect to pay $1,000 more than if they would have bought the car two weeks ago. It’s strictly supply and demand."

The spread of hybrids into America’s heartland may fit well with GM’s hybrid plans. In May, GM announced that the redesigned 2008 Saturn Vue Greenline will offer a version with the GM-Daimler-BMW two-mode hybrid drivetrain. This will give GM a lineup of three full-hybrid SUVs (a compact and two-full-sized) that may be well received in areas like the Midwest where domestic brands remain strong. The Ford Escape Hybrid may also get a boost if hybrid sales in this region take off. In May, sales of the Ford Escape were up 10% over last year, a possible indication that buyers with preferences for domestic brands are entering the market.

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  • AP

    It all depends on fuel prices. Hybrid sales had tanked until fuel prices re-surged.

  • michael a.

    It all depends on EXPECTATIONS of future fuel prices.

    The very first $3.00 per gallon spike was viewed as an anomaly by most people. But the “third time is the charm”. People today are more and more skeptical that fuel prices will come down and STAY down.

    With the failure of President Bush to stabilize Iraq and its oil fields, and the looming threat of MORE category 5 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, odds are that gas prices will go even higher.

    More and more car buyers are choosing hybrid “just in case”.

  • domboy

    It appears to be true about the Honda Accord Hybrid… being replace by a Diesel Accord in 2009. That makes me happy…

    See these links:

  • Gerald F. Shields Jr.

    Cat 4 Cyclone Gonu might start some “stuff” too.

  • Dave M

    Although the big winner is the prius, I think with the Camry and Altima hybrids people can choose a hybrid that allows 35+ mpg and 180+ hp.

    while it is obvious a great many people like the 120hp prius, the newer family sedans that provide mpg and HP (unlike the accord hybrid, which was overbalanced for hp) will probably be the biggest long term winners

  • Jerry

    I drove the Altima and Camry Hybrid its a matter of which one. The Altima has plenty of power frmo a standstill, it has a larger trunk and gas tank You also get the better tax credit. Both of these car are more practical for larger families.

  • Robert H

    Gas will have to go up significantly more before buying a hybrid version over a gas version will make sense. With current gas prices, if you compare a gas Camry with a hybrid Camry you will see that it will take you more than a decade of fuel savings before you recoup the much higher price of the hybrid model.

    Perhaps as more people buy hybrids, the cost of the technology will go down and they will start to make more financial sense.

  • Ted

    I think the cost analysis is an interesting question
    if the cost of a 4 cyl LE is $5,500 less and the 6 cyl LE is $3,000 less everyone has to make some assumptions
    At $3 and 15,000 miles its 6 year break even for the 6cyl and 13 for the 4cyl.
    If you factor the remaining available tax credit take another year off of the break even point. Three more if you but the altima.
    Do you think a hybrid will be worth more at trade in?
    What do think the wear and tear on a motor that has never had to pull the car off the line or sit indling in traffic be compared to one that does?
    What would you do with 8 more hours in a year that you are not sitting at the gas station?
    What will the price of fuel be if a million people bought hybrids and saved 200,000,000 gallons of fuel per year?
    Would our air be cleaner in the cities?
    I think the break even point is a lot sooner than people think and I would agree as more of these are sold the price will come down and they will be better with longer range.

  • Braxton

    Main thing, not only is it better MPG but you are also saving on other fact, like emissions and other harmful gasses, which to me out does the cost the first day

  • michael a.

    The idea that hybrids DON’T pay for themselves is inaccurate.

    If you REALLY want to calculate the Break Even point,you MUST include LESS maintenance for the Hybrids and HIGHER resale value. If you add these components, the hybrid looks much better. But don’t stop there. You also should include the buyer Satisfaction of Hybrid owners vs. ICE owners. And, from what I’ve read, hybrid owners have the highest satisfaction scores.

    The “value” of a car is how well it meets your needs and how it makes you feel. Car Buyers don’t do break even calculations on their purchase of leather seats, navigation systems, 6 CD players. They buy these things becuase they feel good about having them.

    Hybrids provide the buyer with BOTH a “feel good” factor, and
    better fuel economy.

    And finally, for delivery vehicles and taxis, Hybrids are the only rational purchase. Most cab drivers recoup the ENTIRE cost of a hybrid in just 2-3 years. So in this case, Hybrids MORE THAN PAY for themselves. The reason most people don’t know this is that the media won’t report it.


    We are driving our 4th Prius, we had two of the 1st generation and then traded for a 2004 and then a 2006. We have been trading with 25 to 35,000 miles on them and have had no trouble with them. I feel very proud to be driving a car that does not pollute as much as a normal car and the preformance is astounding. We average from 47 to 52 MPG all the time and now have 25,000 miles on our 2006 model. We always drive with the windows up and the air condition on. We will wait for the 2009 model to come out before we trade again.

  • Danny

    OMG, I didn’t know trucks are THAT popular and after all, STILL that popular.

    Should the U.S. attack Iran which does not seem unlikely after the failed talks, we’ll likely see barrel prizes go above $100. Dunno what all these people are thinking …