November 2008 Dashboard: Sales Go From Bad to Worse

in partnership with Polk

November 2008 Hybrid Market Dashboard Summary: Car sales went from bad to worse. Even sales of fuel-efficient vehicles lagged as tight credit, recession fears, and falling gas prices eroded demand for small cars and hybrids.

Hybrid Heatmap

This month, we are pleased to introduce a new feature to our monthly hybrid market dashboard: a graphical and geographical look at hybrid trends. In this month’s version, we show where you can find the nearly 1.2 million hybrids in use in the United States (viewed on a state basis). This is a snapshot view of the total number of hybrids in use in July. In future months, we’ll look at hybrid popularity, growth rates and other geo-based stats. See more regional data below.

Hybrid Heatmap

Analysis of November Sales Numbers

Hybrids Worldwide

"Top 5 global hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations CYTD September 2008.

and "Top 5 US hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations CYTD September 2008.

In November, car sales went from bad to worse as sales volumes fell a bruising 37 percent from a year earlier. Even sales of small, fuel efficient vehicles lagged as tight credit, recession fears, and falling gas prices eroded demand for small cars that had surged just months earlier. Hybrids, which generally have outperformed the overall car market in recent months, fell faster than conventional vehicles in November, posting a 50 percent sales decline from a year earlier.

With sales volumes at their lowest levels in decades, gas prices racing toward $1.50 per gallon, and automotive CEOs begging for federal financial assistance, the short-term prospects for hybrids have diminished. Yet in this challenging environment, automakers are more committed to hybrids than ever. Toyota and Honda are moving forward with planned vehicle launches next spring, and have confirmed their plans for new hybrid models.

Detroit Three also have announced plans to move aggressively into hybrids and electric-drive vehicles. GM promises 15 hybrids by 2012 as well as additional plug-in hybrid models like the Chevrolet Volt. Ford has committed to launching a family of electric drive vehicles by 2012 that includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric vehicles (including an all-electric commercial van). And Chrysler reaffirmed its commitment to a hybrid Dodge Ram pickup and detailed plans for a freeway-capable electric vehicle produced in large volumes by 2010.

These announcements signal a shift in strategy for the Detroit Three, who have placed electric-drive technologies at the heart of their recovery plans. Perhaps these automakers now realize that advanced vehicles (including hybrids) can be a key way to differentiate their products and attract consumers who, in time, will return to the market.

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 (November 2008): 16,5365

US hybrid sales for November 2008

Model Units vs. last month vs. November 2007 CYTD vs. CYTD 2007
Prius 8,660 -26.6% -48.3% 151,025 -9.6%
Camry 2,174 -22.1% -57.5% 42,201 -14.8%
Highlander 907 -11.3% -64.8% 18,501 -3.9%
RX400h 624 1.5% -62.7% 13,737 10.0%
LS600hL 37 -32.7% -78.2% 930 n/a
GS450h 42 90.9% -58.0% 627 -58.4%
Civic 1,043 -35.7% -67.8% 30,261 2.1%
Escape 1,185 33.5% -35.8% 16,150 -16.7%
Mariner 176 -18.1% -53.4% 2,223 35.5%
Yukon 190 1.6% n/a 2,009 n/a
Malibu 195 -40.0% n/a 1,934 n/a
Vue 328 7.3% 1,461.9% 2,729 25.4%
Tahoe 404 8.6% n/a 3,217 n/a
Aura 45 104.5% -26.2% 252 -65.9%
Altima 353 -36.3% -70.4% 8,109 9.2%
Escalade 173 -24.8% n/a 495 n/a
All hybrids 16,536 24.8% -50.4% 293,147 -8.3%
All vehicles 747,544 -10.9% -36.7% 12,351,399 -16.3%

U.S. hybrid sales for October 2008 by manufacturer and model

United States Sales by Make

U.S. hybrid market historical sales (1999 – 2007 with 2008 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 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 63,312
2 New York 14,362
3 Florida 13,344
4 Texas 13,274
5 Illinois 10,241
6 Virginia 8,659
7 Washington 8,565
8 Pennsylvania 8,120
9 Arizona 7,719
10 New Jersey 7,634
11 Massachusetts 7,563
12 Maryland 6,395
13 North Carolina 6,169
14 Ohio 6,059
15 Colorado 5,256

*Registrations CYTD September 2008

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 California 1.752
2 District of Columbia 1.658
3 Oregon 1.388
4 Washington 1.362
5 Vermont 1.321
6 Connecticut 1.304
7 Arizona 1.300
8 New Hampshire 1.259
9 Massachusetts 1.182
10 Virginia 1.144
11 Maryland 1.142
12 Colorado 1.127
13 Nevada 1.074
14 Hawaii 1.006
15 Alaska 0.960
US State Average 0.820

*Registrations CYTD September 2008

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 28,244
2 San Francisco 17,557
3 New York 17,115
4 Washington, DC 9,047
5 Chicago 8,137
6 Boston 7,782
7 Seattle 7,079
8 Philadelphia 6,593
9 Phoenix 5,562
10 San Diego 5,731
11 Sacramento 5,614
12 Denver 4,631
13 Minneapolis-St. Paul 4,283
14 Portland, OR 4,231
15 Dallas-Ft. Worth 4,095

*Registrations CYTD September 2008

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 10.394
2 San Francisco 7.453
3 Santa Barbara, CA 5.912
4 Monterrey, CA 5.874
5 San Diego 5.585
6 Los Angeles 5.101
7 Charlottesville, VA 4.459
8 Sacramento, CA 4.171
9 Seattle 4.159
10 Washington, DC 4.016
11 Phoenix 3.952
12 Helena, MT 3.836
13 Palm Spring, CA 3.804
14 Eugene, OR 3.463
15 Eureka, CA 3.377
  US Metro Area Average 1.812

*Registrations CYTD September 2008


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  • Karkus

    The heat map is a nice concept, but the way it’s displayed right now is mostly just a reflection of the population of the states. It does not reflect the popularity of hybrids in each state.
    Could you please make a map based on your data of States where hybrids are most popular” in terms of New Hybrids per 1000 Residents? That would be A LOT more informative.
    Thanks.

  • WompaStompa

    I agree Karkus. The percentage of auto owners that own hybrids would be helpful.

    I live in Iowa and I see a decent number of both Prius and Civic Hybrids on the roads, but this map is misleading since it makes it seem like Hybrids are rare in these parts.

  • Max Reid

    One of the reasons for this recession is high oil prices. Only way to cope up is to buy more hybrids and reduce oil consumption.

    But automakers should also reduce prices of hybrid vehicles, otherwise, they will lose the overall sales.

  • mdensch

    If the price of oil was contributing to the recession, why aren’t falling prices getting us out of it?

    Frankly, if we had an intelligent energy policy it would include taxing gasoline to keep the price high (above $4/gallon) which we have now seen does wonders to reduce consumption.

    Also, reducing the prices of hybrids seems like a nice idea, but nobody is making money selling hybrids as it is — it has been said that Toyota has yet to turn a profit on the Prius line. Cut the prices further and the auto makers would have to sell that many more non-hybrids to make up the difference . . . or go out of business . . . or ask for a government handout.

  • Need2Change

    Every major spike in oil prices has led to a recession that lasted years even after prices declinced.

    In the U.S., billions of dollars flowed out of the country that could have been used to buy clothes, homes, electronics, furniture, and cars. Now, the money and millions of jobs are gone.

    Even though oil prices have declined, the jobs have not yet come back, and it will take years of low oil prices to help boost the economy.

    Adding a tax to get gasoline back to $4 will extend and maybe worsen the recession.

    We need to walk the fine line to take steps to discourage oil consumption and encourage job creation. I believe Obama is on the right track to push for hybrids and creation of jobs related to alternative sources of energy.

    However, I believe we could absorb a modest increase to gasoline taxes (maybe $.50/gallon now, and more later).

    I just hope we learn to build hybrid batteries in the U.S. If we don’t, then rather than having money flow out of the county to buy oil, we’ll have money flowing out of the country to buy oil and batteries.

  • The Cause for Recession

    Reason for recession is housing bubble and the failure of *investment banks, which has created a lack of liquidity/credit in the markets. Banks have no money to lend or lend at higher rates means no one can get or want an expensive loan.

    No refinancing of debt, no business loans….market is frozen so No one spends money….no one spends money means less need for workers….workers lose jobs creating a viscious cycle of tighter spending controls causing less sales causing more job losses….

  • shaam

    Does this account for people driving used hybrids, for example, I drive a hybrid that was original registered in Texas.

  • Picky McPicky

    Oh goody… a heat map! Look at all the pretty green colors.

    My 2 year old could have figured out how to put together a heat map….And if my dog wasn’t color blind, he might have had a good shot at equaling this stupid task. This isn’t news. This is just another chart that displays information we already knew.

    Heat map…Pleeeease. OK boys and girls…take out your crayons and lets color in the states that sell the most Hybrids…

  • Anti McPicky

    Picky McPicky – I wish I could tell you that was well-articulated and additive……. how did you find a way to type using crayons? Scary that you’re responsible for raising a 2 year old or even a dog. i’m only upset at you because there’s simply no amount of money you could possibly have that would give me back the 15 seconds wasted on reading your entry.

  • Picky McPicky

    Sorry I dissed your heat map Anti-Picky. I’m sure you and mommy worked real hard on it last night. At least I hope it’s your map. I’d hate to think that you would be so upset at my comment if it wasn’t.

  • stan

    I agree with mcpicky. The chart is pretty lame.

    On another note, the reason why a drop in oil prices hasn’t got us out of the recession is that America doesn’t trust the economy right now and is cautious about everything and rightfully so. To America, the drop in oil prices is more money in their pockets that is going to stay in the pockets until viable solutions to correct the mortgage and credit crisis that we are in.

    That means no big purchases like cars, large appliances and anything else that requires credit. Living within their means…is the mantra of Americans and its about time.

  • solarearth

    Seems to me a natural correction was in order. Add all of the other issues we are dealing with including a new white house administration and it appears that we are in a holding pattern until 2nd quarter of next year. There is a critical mass with alternate energy and we are fast approaching it. Homes and buildings can be more energy efficient by a large magnitude from their current level. This is where the most payback is going to occur for consumers in my opinion. As the price of efficiency is reduced it will be more abundant as well the more efficient a home or building is the better interest rate should be allocated.

  • Picky McPicky

    Here’s How I see it. I don’t think America cares that much about energy efficiency as it does cost savings…We see dollar signs in savings and in a tough economy…that thinking will be top of mind. Actually, efficiency and cost savings should be intertwine, but, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case in a greedy capitalistic society.

    Hey…I am a big believer in big business…in capitalism…but only if the consumer benefits first and the investor second. Let me explain…

    Wal-Mart has it right. Price things cheap enough and people will come back and buy more. Jeapordy time…This retailer showed and increase in sales and profits in the 3rd quarter…ding…ding…ding… Who is Wal-Mart, Alex.

    The consumer wins in this scenario and get’s to buy stuff cheaper, leaving morfe moeny in the checking account for a night out at the local Applebees, head bangers ball, opera, ballgame, or whatever their pleasure.

    Wal-Mart also wins…They are the worlds largest retailer…It’s a big more work, but if there is one thing I’d like to say about those fellas in Bentonville, AR…those guys have an unbelievable work ethic…I know, they ude dto be my customer. And they are tough, no BS business people and a model for corporate America.

    But they did it without pretention. Their world headquarters is the ugliest, most hodge podge conglomeration of buildings in the western hemsiphere…and they don’t care. It’s not about appearance…it’s about results.

    Do the Big 3 think that way? Does big oil think that way? Does the financial industry think that way? Does any corporation that’s in trouble right now think that way? No, No, No and NO!

    Downsize, get real, be prudent, live within your means, do your homework, study the market, and sleep well at night…Those are the values my immigrant dad taught me. Some advice he gave me I listened too and prospered…other times I foolishly jumped in blind and lost. It’s OK to take risks, but hedge your bets with knowledge and realistic outcomes. That is lost upon America and coprations today.

    How does this tie back into energy efficiency? Corporations need to see alternative energy as a means to cost savings for Americans or the journey will be lost. We want value…We don’t buy the rob Peter to pay Paul strategies anymore. If I save money HERE, I don’t want the prices THERE to go up exponentially. I want cost savings across the board. If I buy a 80MPG car, I don’t want to have to pay $40,000 for that right.It defeats the purpose. I am buying it to save money. Saving the earth is a by product of that cost savings. With American cars that can only be done with UAW pay cuts and back to real word economics.