The HybridCars.com monthly sales dashboard is a collaboration of HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates, a Michigan-based market research firm focusing on automotive issues including the hybrid and electric vehicle market.

Coming off near-record levels in March, the hybrid market took a nosedive in April. With gas prices soaring, consumers wanted high fuel economy—but couldn’t find it in the form of new gas-electric models. The March 11 earthquake in Japan pinched the supply chain for key hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius and Lexus CT 200h.

“You can’t have disruptions in production, like we’re having post-disaster, without it having impact,” said Greg Thome, manager of Toyota Division Communications, in an interview with HybridCars.com. “We’re feeling it with Prius, where the interruption in production, coupled with increased demand due to gas prices, leaves us with about a five- to 10-day supply.” Thome said Prius was the first Toyota vehicle to resume production after the earthquake, an indication of the importance of the hybrid to the company.

With new hybrids in short supply, car buyers opted for affordable and available high-mpg gas-powered models, diesel vehicles or used hybrids. The rise in used Prius prices—from less than $17,000 in January to more than $19,000 in late April—provides evidence of steady growth in demand for used models. General Motors reported that sales of its passenger cars were up 50 percent in April, while its full-size pickups increased by only 2 percent.

Lexus CT 200h

The big winner in March 2011 was Lexus CT 200h. In April, sales of the CT dropped by 60 percent.

The overall auto market fell by 7.1 percent compared to March, while hybrids careened by 27.3 percent. Prius sales dropped by nearly 33 percent, while the big loser compared to last month was the Lexus CT 200h, which crashed by more than 60 percent. Still, high cumulative sales for the year—when high demand was met by decent inventory numbers—has hybrids up in 2011 by 25.6 percent compared to last year, while the overall market is growing at the slightly lower pace of 19.4 percent.

Clean diesel vehicles, exclusively produced by German automakers, did not face the same supply disruptions—and continued their positive run. Clean diesel sales were up nearly 10 percent compared to last month, and have jumped by nearly 43 percent so far this year compared to 2010. Diesel is still, nonetheless, about one-third the size of the hybrid market.

Another adverse effect of high gas prices is a general hit to consumer confidence—
resulting in some buyers moving to the sidelines.

Sales of plug-in models, such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF, were also restrained due to lack of availability. The patience of EV buyers is being stretched, as those who pre-ordered LEAFs are still waiting for a delivery promised weeks (and sometimes months) ago. Again, the earthquake disrupted Japanese production that was only beginning to ramp up. G.M. instructed its dealers not to sell all the Volts they receive, to help lure buyers into showrooms where they could later buy a Volt or shift to other fuel-efficient gasoline models.

As the national average price for a gallon of gas approaches $4 a gallon, consumers will undoubtedly continue a sustained search for high-mpg models, including hybrids. At this stage, it’s uncertain how badly and how long supply will remain affected—but it’s likely to dampen sales just as the hybrid market is poised to reach elevated levels not experienced since the last run on fuel prices in 2008.

April 2011 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (April 2011): 24,797
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.15%

US hybrid sales for April 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. April 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Toyota Prius 12,477 -32.9% -0.6% 55,256 35.5%
Honda Insight 2,644 -5.0% 40.6% 8,702 27.0%
Honda CR-Z 1,819 8.0% n/a 5,489 n/a
Ford Fusion 1,285 -12.3% -15.2% 5,099 -7.5%
Lexus RX450h 1,167 -18.8% -5.3% 4,516 3.0%
Toyota Camry 1,110 -22.8% -32.9% 4,400 -13.4%
Ford Escape 1,070 -10.5% 2.1% 3,580 0.6%
Lexus CT 200h 875 -60.2 n/a 3,074 n/a
Linc. MKZ Hybrid 503 -18.2% n/a 1,883 n/a
Toy. Highlander 380 -52.3% -45.1% 2,573 19.6%
Altima 334 -38.7% 1.2% 1,610 -33.0%
Lexus HS 250h 279 21.3% -74.1% 978 -78.4%
Honda Civic 121 -72.6% -80.5% 1,747 -2.9%
Cad. Escalade 117 -7.9% 2.6% 429 -1.4%
Porsche Cayenne 107 -6.1% n/a 574 n/a
Chevy Silverado 103 9.6% -3.7% 436 29.8%
GMC Yukon 96 18.5% -33.3% 289 -31.4%
Chevy Tahoe 63 -10.0% -55.3% 244 -51.6%
VW Touareg Hybrid 52 18.2% n/a 221 n/a
Infiniti M35h 42 n/a n/a 42 n/a
Mazda Tribute 37 8.8% -36.2% 144 -28.7%
BMW Hybrid 7 32 -15.8% n/a 137 n/a
Mercedes S400 32 28.0% -70.4% 107 -70.3%
Lexus GS450h 29 20.8% 16.0% 105 -11.8%
GMC Sierra 16 -38.5% -70.4% 83 -60.1%
Lexus LS600hL 10 11.1% 42.9% 34 -15.0%
BMW X6 2 -60.0% -90.5% 21 -75.3%
Mercedes ML450 0 -100.0% -100.0% 1 -99.6
Chevy Malibu Hybrid (5) n/a -107.5% -100.0
All hybrids 24,797 -27.3% 4.8% 101,774 25.6
All vehicles 1,154,292 -7.1% 17.7% 4,203,249 19.4%

April 2011 Plug-in Electric Car Sales Numbers

Plug-in cars sold in the US (April 2011): 1,066
Plug-in Take-Rate: 0.09%

US plug-in electric sales for April 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. April 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Nissan LEAF 573 92.3% n/a 1,025 n/a
Chevrolet Volt 493 -18.9% n/a 1,703 n/a
Smart ED 0 100.0% n/a 32 n/a
All plug-in cars 1,066 190.5% n/a 2,760 n/a
All vehicles 1,154,292 -7.1% 17.7% 4,203,249 19.4%

April 2011 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (April 2011): 9,138
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.79%

US clean diesel sales for April 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. April 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
VW Jetta 5,565 17.1% 53.6% 16,660 47.7%
Volkswagen Golf 958 7.9% 73.2% 3,048 95.0%
BMW X5 440 -20.6% -8.9% 2,175 -17.5%
Mercedes GL320 428 0.5% 41.7% 1,514 69.0%
Audi Q7 373 0.0% 65.0% 1,399 67.5%
Audi A3 364 46.2% 22.6% 1,268 20.8
Mercedes ML320 240 -17.5% 25.0% 1,011 78.9%
VW Touareg 264 30.7% 41.9% 812 17.0%
Mercedes E320 246 -0.8% 2975.0% 878 2,273.0%
BMW 335d 225 -22.7% -47.3% 966 -1.5%
Mercedes R320 35 -45.3% -41.7% 172 22.9%
Jeep Gr Cherokee n/a 100.0% 152 -60.6%
All clean diesels 9,138 9.6% 42.2% 30,055 42.7%
All vehicles 1,154,292 -7.1% 17.7% 4,203,249 19.4%