October 2010 Dashboard: Hybrid Car Sales Returned to Life in October

After months of lackluster sales, purchasing of hybrid cars showed signs of life in October. Automakers reported 24,228 sales, the highest volume since May. That put hybrids at 2.55 percent of the new car market for October.

Hybrid sales were 9.2 percent higher in October than in the previous month, yet year-to-date sales of gas-electric vehicles are about 8 percent below last year’s levels so far.

The uptake in hybrid sales was supported to some degree by gas prices, which slightly increased in early October, and rose again in early November. Price volatility at the pumps is a major factor supporting sales of hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars. However, Volkswagen and other diesel car manufacturers sold 3 percent fewer oil burners in October. Nonetheless, diesel sales so far this year have demonstrated an upswing of more than 40 percent.

Sales increased for nearly every popular hybrid model in October. The few models that had falling sales since September dropped by a percentage point or two, while most models that picked up sales increased more dramatically.

Sales of the 2010 Honda Insight continues to gain momentum, while the new Honda CR-Z added 1,419 hybrid sales to Honda’s tally. The Ford Fusion Hybrid was the third most popular hybrid, selling 35 percent more in this October than last. Anticipated future growth of hybrids will come from new model introductions. The number of hybrids on the market is expected to grow from 27 models today to nearly 60 by 2015. In addition, a dozen or more plug-in hybrids will be introduced in the next four years.

The hybrid market is still dominated by the Toyota Prius. Sales of the Prius increased by 3 percent in October, and are generally flat in 2010 compared to last year. The hybrid market in October was outperformed by the sales of overall vehicles, which increased by more than 13 percent compared to one year ago.

October 2010 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (October 2010): 24,228
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.55%

US hybrid sales for October 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. October 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Toyota Prius 11,731 3.0% -13.1% 115,065 -2.7%
Honda Insight 1,965 17.0% 13.0% 17,789 1.5%
Ford Fusion 1,657 -0.8% 35.2% 17,932 41.3%
Honda CR-Z 1,419 14.8 n/a 3,349 n/a
Lexus RX450h 1,402 26.1% -10.5% 12,285 5.4%
Toyota Camry 1,194 8.2% -15.1% 12,373 -37.8%
Lexus HS 250h 792 11.4% -48.1% 8,754 164.3%
Ford Escape 765 -3.5% -11.9% 9,541 -25.9%
Toyota Highlander 756 44.6% 8.0% 5,785 -38.0%
Honda Civic 662 -0.7% 177.0% 5,818 -59.6%
Altima 443 -13.3% 48.2% 5,664 -29.3%
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 366 n/a n/a 376 n/a
Chevy Silverado 358 78.1% 251.0% 1,719 116.5%
Mercury Milan 159 87.1% 48.6% 945 -23.9%
Mercedes S400 114 37.3% 21.3% 874 436.2%
Cadillac Escalade 92 12.2% -50.5% 1,000 -45.2%
GMC Yukon 87 81.3% -59.5% 1,035 -30.5%
Mazda Tribute 67 26.4% 63.4% 561 -38.7%
Chevy Tahoe 66 -22.4% -83.1% 1,232 -55.1%
Mercury Mariner 44 -10.2% -45.7% 745 -49.9%
GMC Sierra 33 6.5% -49.2% 419 13.6%
Lexus GS450h 29 61.1% -25.6% 257 -32.0%
BMW ActivHybrid 7 7 -33.3% n/a 68 n/a
Lexus LS600hL 9 0.0% -57.1% 99 -56.6%
Chevy Malibu 6 200.0% -94.7% 393 -89.7%
Saturn Aura 4 -300.0% -86.7% 50 -85.3%
Mercedes ML450 2 -91.7% n/a 765 n/a
BMW X6 0 -100.0% n/a 233 n/a
All hybrids 24,228 9.2% -1.6% 225,175 -8.5%
All vehicles 950,165 -0.9% 13.4% 9,570,721 10.6%

October 2010 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (October 2010): 7,832
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.82%

US clean diesel sales for October 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. October 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Volkswagen Jetta 4,500 -7.1% 23.0% 36,838 13.8%
BMW X5 749 7.8% 82.2% 6,353 134.8%
Volkswagen Golf 476 9.4% 310.3 4,592 3,858.6%
Mercedes GL320 354 -14.3% 36.7% 2,824 34.3%
Mercedes ML320 297 -18.2% 33.8% 2,136 -20.5%
Audi A3 289 -5.9% 1505.6 2,674 14,755.6
Audi Q7 287 -12.5% 4.7% 2,533 61.1%
BMW 335d 271 -11.7% 188.3% 3,019 201.3%
Jeep Cherokee 254 16.5% 290.8% 1,217 41.0%
Mercedes E320 227 22,600% 354.0% 338 -71.1%
VW Touareg 91 -22.9% -61.1% 1,356 81.3%
Mercedes R320 37 -24.5% 164.3% 302 -3.8%
All clean diesels 7,832 -3.0% 44.6% 64,182 40.5%
All vehicles 950,165 -0.9% 13.4% 9,570,721 10.6%

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  • JakePDX

    Thanks for the info. This once again shows how much the hybrid car market is dependent on gas prices approaching (or surpassing) $3.00 per gallon. Too bad any type of carbon tax will be dead on arrival in the next Congress.

  • Yegor

    Thank you very much again!

    One of many reasons hybrid sales are a bit slow is Nissan Leaf is already in production and first production Chevy Volt will roll out on November 30, 2010. Definitely lots of people are not waiting for plug-ins.

  • Yegor

    Overall Ford and Honda sales are very close now – will Ford be able to beat Honda to become the second greenest automaker this year?

  • Yegor

    It is the first full month of Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sales. It is a very interesting event since Lincoln MKZ Hybrid priced the same as Lincoln MKZ None-Hybrid. Results:
    366 Hybrids vs 1484 None-Hybrid or just 20% of all Lincoln MKZ sales.

    Some of the reasons are are:
    1) less horsepower: 156 vs 263
    2) may be not enough trust in reliability.

  • Yegor

    Honda CR-Z sales are huge for a small niche 2 seats car.

  • Yegor

    Japan October Toyota Prius sales were 21,769 without any tax incentives – impressive!
    Kudos to Japan!

    Unfortunately there is no info on Honda Fit Hybrid (as its numbers are inside of Honda Fit numbers) but Honda Insight is out of top 20 in Japan – it means less than 1,500

  • Charles

    Yegor, I think the HP difference for the MKZ is 191 vs 263. I think the 156 is for just the ICE part of the hybrid.

  • Sith

    I can`t believe who buys these dirty Diesel vehicles.

    I made in the past the experience that they are not very reliable and also too expensive.

  • Dom

    I’m glad to see the CR-Z selling well… that is the only hybrid I have any interest in whatsoever… primarily because it’s the only hybrid available with a manual transmission.

    Sorry Sith, but your “past experiences” with diesels is no longer valid, just as current gasoline vehicles are nothing like old ones. Go check out a modern diesel, you’ll be surprised how things change…

  • av

    Things have improved since 1980, you know. Or do you judge Macs based on your experience with Apple IIs?

    Try reading up on a recent diesel: http://www.hybridcars.com/vehicle/volkswagen-jetta-tdi.html

  • wxman

    As far as “dirty diesel vehicles” are concerned, Wayne Gerdes, administrator of cleanmpg.com relayed an interesting fact from his visit to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) recently. According to him, NOx and PM emissions from a 2009 VW Jetta TDI were near the detection limits of the most sensitive instrumentation currently available at ANL, i.e., the new Jetta TDI was emitting essentially 0 NOx and PM emissions ( http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34832 ).

    Can’t get much more diametrically opposed to “dirty” than that!

  • Yegor

    Two new models – Honda CR-Z and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid helped to boost Hybrid market share from 2.35% to 2.55%.
    Indeed as the number of offered Hybrid models grow the Hybrid’s market share will grow.

  • Yegor

    Yes, diesel is not dirty anymore but its reliability record (according to Consumer Reports) is still below average.

  • Yegor

    Hybrid sales fluctuate with the price of oil. Right now the price of oil is actually very low because of the global economic depression but it can go back to $4 per gallon as soon as economy starts to improve and that can happen at any moment.
    People should use $4 per gallon in their evaluation when selecting a new car. Unfortunately fueleconomy.gov website is not helping – they have $ 2.87 per gallon on their website 🙁

  • jarman

    The sales volumes as they are would never support a manufacturer in profit. Only the Prius is a vehicle that would ever substantiate its reason for production. The others are only being produced to substantiate a “green” feeling. Those sales numbers starting with the Honda Insight would be clearly enough to drop the product had they not been hybrids because they cannot make money at those dismal volumes.

  • Yegor

    There are plenty of models with low volume. For example Honda Element, Honda Ridgeline, Toyota FJ CRUISER, Toyota SEQUOIA sell about 1,200 per month.

  • JJ

    Is the Saturn Aura considered a collectors item?

  • Anonymous

    Typical Lincoln buyer would go for V8, if 366 people buy the MKZ (V4) in the very 1st month, then its a good start. As the news spreads, more people will buy and this may cross 1,000 mark. I hope Ford applies this hybrid in Edge and MKZ to compete with Highlander & RX450h.

    Good that Prius could sell 21K units in Japan even without subsidy. So that means its priced well in Japan. They can do the same in US as well.

    Good that hybrids share has increased to 2.55 %.

  • Yegor

    Good news from Consumer Reports. The new Consumer Reports auto edition is out and Toyota Prius shows remarkable reliability! Toyota Prius shows mostly excellent reliability in 17 different parameters of the vehicle. The only problem area is electric in the the very first 2001-2003 model years but it was an all new type of car back then. The reliability of this area in 2001-2003 models was below average through the years but was fixed starting with second generation of Prius – 2004 model. Since 2004 model year Prius is going excellent in reliability!

    Kudos to Toyota for doing an excellent job in proving that Hybrids can be extremely reliable!

    I think this news deserves a separate news article on Hybrid Cars website!

  • Yegor

    I think that Toyota Prius sales should continue to go up thanks to its proven excellent reliability.

  • SithfromSuisse

    I would prefer a Hybrid (Prius) because there is the bad reliability and to much bucks for maintenance of the Diesel.