Sales of hybrid cars fell by 17.5 percent in June, compared to one year ago, while the overall car market grew by more than 14 percent. With gas prices remaining low, consumers looking for a new car were not motivated to spend more money on a fuel-efficient car. At the same time, carmakers were apparently eager to put incentives on conventional models, but not to extend those offers to gas-electric cars.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

The comparison of June 2010 versus June 2009 underscores the importance of gas prices for greener fuel-efficient cars. A year ago, hybrids saw a bump in hybrid sales along with the usual rise in gas prices at the beginning of the summer. This year, gas prices actually fell. So, despite outrage over the Gulf Oil Spill—which is producing a stronger-than-ever desire for alternatives—consumers apparently are not willing to spend for green.

It all adds up to a fairly dismal scenario for 2010 hybrid sales. Halfway through the year, and we’re on track for the third straight year of declining hybrid sales—although the drop will probably be not as bad as the two previous years. Year-to-date sales stand at 130,000—up by 3 percent. But that’s not likely to last, because hybrid sales jumped with cash-for-clunkers in summer 2009. Clean diesel sales are still way up for the year, but the Jetta TDI was not immune to the economic conditions, with sales falling 18.5 percent compared to one year ago.

Even though the Ford Fusion Hybrid also fell by nearly 20 percent compared to May, it represents a bright spot and perhaps an indication of things to come. 2010 Fusion Hybrid sales are up by 85 percent for the year. Think of the Fusion Hybrid as the mainstreaming of hybrid technology into a popular model. That will develop into a trend as automakers prepare for higher fuel economy standards. To reach those higher MPG levels, which phase in starting in 2012, car companies will need to sell as many hybrids as possible, or face fines. As a result, accessible models, like the Honda Fit Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, or an entire family of Priuses—all in the works—might become very competitively priced, reducing the hybrid premium to perhaps a couple hundred dollars.

If that happens and gas prices jump back to $4 a gallon, hybrids could begin their projected rise to 7 or 8t percent of the market. In June, hybrids represented just 2.2 percent of overall sales. As long as gas prices are low, people are out of work, and the fuel economy mandates haven’t kicked in, hybrid sales are likely to remain lackluster. Time will tell how much impact these same conditions will have on the introduction of the first plug-in vehicles.

June 2010 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (June 2010): 21,679
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.20%

US hybrid sales for June 2010

Model Units vs. last month vs. June 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Toyota Prius 10,998 -22.8% -15.4% 66,039 18.5%
Ford Fusion 2,010 -19.1% -2.3% 10,008 85.0%
Honda Insight 1,491 -22.1% -28.3 10,257 36.3%
Lexus RX450h 1,304 -4.0% 147.4% 7,045 21.5%
Ford Escape 1,260 -3.2% -2.7% 6,121 -14.8%
Toyota Camry 1,097 -24.6% -47.3% 7,634 -41.3%
Toyota Highlander 611 -10.5% -44.4% 3,445 -45.8%
Lexus HS 250h 603 -55.7% n/a 6,492 n/a
Honda Civic 595 -17.0% -62.4% 3,111 -74.8%
Altima 479 -59.0% -28.1% 4,048 27.5%
Mercedes ML450 212 17.1% n/a 636 n/a
Chevy Tahoe 168 -30.3% -33.6% 913 -42.8%
GMC Yukon 132 -31.6% -5.0% 746 -15.8%
BMW X6 128 966.7% n/a 225 n/a
Mercury Mariner 100 23.5% -9.1% 504 -28.9%
Mercury Milan 93 22.4% -50.0% 517 -2.3%
Chevy Silverado 82 -72.6% -2.4% 717 126.9%
Cadillac Escalade 68 -48.1% -56.1% 634 -38.0%
Mercedes S400 63 -37.6% n/a 524 n/a
Mazda Tribute 55 9.8% -36.0% 318 -38.4%
GMC Sierra 38 0.0% -2.6% 246 84.4%
Chevy Malibu 36 -12.2% -92.6% 359 -86.4%
Lexus GS450h 22 -42.1% -18.5% 179 -13.9%
Saturn Vue 14 366.7% -94.1% 47 -96.9%
BMW ActiveHybrid 7 11 n/a n/a 18 n/a
Saturn Aura 5 n/a -91.1% 38 -80.0%
Lexus LS600hL 4 -50.0% -87.1% 52 -66.9%
All hybrids 21,679 -23.1% -17.5% 130,911 3.1%
All vehicles 983,738 -10.8% 14.4% 5,614,023 16.7%

June 2010 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (June 2010): 6,886
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.70%

US clean diesel sales for June 2010

n/a
Model Units vs. last month vs. June 2009 CYTD vs. CYTD 2009
Volkswagen Jetta 4,056 -6.7% -18.5% 19,682 17.5%
Volkswagen Golf 638 6.7% n/a 2,799 n/a
BMW X5 638 3.1% 194.0% 3,894 135.3%
BMW 335d 356 72.0% 304.5% 1,544 217.0%
Mercedes GL320 289 -7.1% 107.9% 1,496 13.0%
Audi A3 259 9.3% 1,546 n/a n/a
Audi Q7 246 12.3% 21.8% 1,300 61.5%
Mercedes ML320 226 2.7% -66.2% 1,011 -50.8%
Volkswagen Touareg 96 -19.3% -1.0% 909 341.3%
Jeep Cherokee 58 -10.8% -19.4% 509 10.2%
Mercedes R320 20 42.9% -70.1% 174 -34.3%
Mercedes E320 4 -20.0% -96.2% 46 -92.3%
All clean diesels 6,886 -1.1% 3.8% 34,910 41.9%
All vehicles 983,738 -10.8% 14.4% 5,614,023 16.7%