in partnership with Polk

Hybrids Worldwide

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

"Top 5 US hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations January – April 2007.

Hybrid sales in June were down from May, but this wasn’t much of a surprise. May’s sales pace was simply too brisk to be sustained. Sales were down across the board, but hybrids still accounted for 2.4% of the light-duty vehicle market, and the Prius remained among the top 15 bestselling vehicles in the United States.

The real story is year-over-year sales. While the overall car market shrank by 3%, hybrid sales rose by over 50%. Much of this growth was driven by the Prius (up 83%), the Camry Hybrid (up 30%), and the Escape Hybrid (up 40%). In the case of the Escape, it appears that Ford’s styling updates earlier this year are beginning to show results: sales are up in spite of lower incentives. Sales laggards include the Accord Hybrid, which will reach the end of production later this year, and the Highlander Hybrid, which is due for replacement in the fall. Also due for replacement this fall is the Saturn VUE Green Line. Production of the current 2007 model ended last March, and as GM’s inventories decline, sales are slowing, resulting in a 75% drop in June.

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. (June 2007): 34,885

US hybrid sales for June 2007

Model Units vs. 5/07 vs. 6/06
Altima 804 -2.1% n/a
Prius 17,756 -26.0% 83.1%
Civic 3,246 -28.2% 24.8%
Accord 342 -22.1% -13.6%
Camry 5,530 -19.3% 29.6%
Highlander 2,403 -27.4% -11.2%
RX400h 1,562 -10.5% 31.3%
GS450h 131 -27.6% -43.3%
Escape 2,192 -18.2% 39.7%
Mariner 334 -37.5% 6.0%
Vue 463 -74.7% n/a
Aura 122 -2.1% n/a
All hybrids 34,885 -25.9% 51.4%
All vehicles 1,455,649 -6.9% -3.0%

U.S. hybrid sales for June 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 28,506
2 Florida 5,564
3 New York 5,311
4 Texas 5,151
5 Washington 4,228
6 Virginia 3,675
7 Illinois 3,670
8 Pennsylvania 3,301
9 Massachusetts 3,046
10 New Jersey 2,789
11 Oregon 2,752
12 Maryland 2,680
13 Arizona 2,672
14 North Carolina 2,543
15 Colorado 2,472

*Registrations CYTD April 2007

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 California 0.789
2 Oregon 0.756
3 Washington 0.672
4 Vermont 0.669
5 District of Columbia 0.601
6 Colorado 0.530
7 Connecticut 0.516
8 New Hampshire 0.498
9 Virginia 0.486
10 Maryland 0.479
11 Massachusetts 0.476
12 Arizona 0.450
13 New Mexico 0.400
14 Rhode Island 0.389
15 Hawaii 0.373
  US State Average 0.321

*Registrations CYTD April 2007

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 12,395
2 San Francisco 8,581
3 New York 6,179
4 Washington, DC 3,944
5 Seattle 3,600
6 Boston 3,176
7 Chicago 3,014
8 Philadelphia 2,683
9 Sacramento 2,593
10 Portland, OR 2,308
11 San Diego 2,273
12 Phoenix 2,243
13 Denver 2,193
14 Minneapolis-St. Paul 1,613
15 Dallas-Ft. Worth 1,609

*Registrations CYTD April 2007

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 5.670
2 San Francisco, CA 3.643
3 Monterey, CA 3.187
4 Santa Barbara, CA 2.439
5 Los Angeles 2.239
6 San Diego 2.215
7 Bend, OR 2.157
8 Seattle 2.115
9 Sacramento, CA 1.927
10 Charlottseville, VA 1.907
11 Washington, DC 1.751
12 Eureka, CA 1.714
13 Eugene, OR 1.692
14 Denver 1.550
15 Burlington, VT 1.541
  US Metro Area Average 0.696

*Registrations CYTD April 2007

Looking Ahead

Chevrolet is showed off its Malibu Hybrid at Major League Baseball’s 2007 All-Star game in San Francisco in anticipation of the vehicle’s October launch. Built with the same powertrain and platform as the Saturn Aura Green Line, the Malibu offers a modest 2 MPG improvement over the conventional 4-cylinder model, delivering fuel economy of 24 MPG city/32 MPG highway (27 MPG combined). Pricing has not been released, but if Chevy’s approach is similar to Saturn’s, the hybrid powertrain will add roughly $1,700 to the sticker price.

It’s hard to get excited about any of the GM hybrid models (including the Malibu) that use the Belt-Alternator Starter (BAS) system. In a market dominated by the Prius, the Malibu Hybrid’s fuel economy seems mediocre and its technology seems dated. It’s like showing your three-year-old Blackberry to a group of new iPhone owners: everyone recognizes that you’re trying, but you still don’t get much respect. Judging from the sales numbers, the market agrees with us: in its first three months on the market, the Saturn Aura Greenline has sold just 334 units.

How could GM invigorate sales of its first hybrids? The first step could be to drop the hybrid label from the Malibu and the Aura. Calling them hybrids encourages comparison with Toyota’s full-hybrid offerings, making GM look like a technology laggard. Labeling the Aura and Malibu as hybrids also will cause confusion when GM launches new models that use its own "Two-Mode" full-hybrid system later this year. The Aura and Malibu are good cars that get respectable fuel economy at a reasonable price by using the BAS system. But they don’t fit well with many consumers’ notions of what a hybrid is, so put the marketing team to work and think up a new name to describe their powertrains.

Another more transformative shift in strategy is to make the BAS system standard equipment on all models across an entire brand. Compared with other hybrid systems, BAS is relatively affordable and is easy to package in existing vehicles. It may only deliver a 10% fuel economy gain, but a 10% gain across a whole vehicle lineup is something GM could brag about. Not many Saturn customers are shelling out $1,700 for the hybrid version of the Aura, but our bet is many buyers would be interested in higher fuel economy if it caused only a slight increase in sticker price and was made to be synonymous with the Saturn brand.