in partnership with Polk

Hybrids Worldwide

"Expected 2006 global hybrid sales" based on vehicle registration trends through September 2006.

"Top 5 global hybrid markets" and "Top 5 US hybrid markets" based on vehicle registrations CYTD September 2006.

November’s U.S. hybrid sales don’t look radically different from last month. In a market where total units sold changed little between October and November, hybrid sales decreased slightly to 18,238 units (representing 1.52% of all cars and trucks sold.) Year-to-year, the picture improves somewhat. Hybrid sales were up almost 14% from November 2005 in a light-duty vehicle market that showed 3% growth over the same period.

Much of the annual increase in hybrid sales can be attributed to the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which was not present in last November’s sales total. Camry Hybrid sales recovered somewhat from last month, increasing 10% to 3,100 units, but still remain below Toyota’s target of 4,000 units/month. Sales of the hybrid market leader, the Toyota Prius, have declined from summer highs, and remain flat on a year-to-year basis. The redesigned Honda Civic Hybrid has now been available for a full year; sales are up a modest 6% compared to last November. The Accord hybrid continues to struggle: last November marked the first month that the Accord sold less than 1,000 units, and this November’s sales were far lower (just 311 units).

Hybrid SUV sales remain steady, but well below last year’s levels. Sales of both Toyota models are off by more than 20% compared with last year. November saw the introduction of incentives (up to $750) on conventional Highlanders, but Toyota has not yet applied these discounts to the Highlander hybrid SUV, so lower sales volumes may be in-line with Toyota’s forecasts. Ford Escape sales improved significantly from November 2005, although it is worth noting that Escape Hybrid sales took a major dip last November, leading Ford to place cash incentives on the vehicle. These incentives remain in effect, making the Escape Hybrid the only hybrid that offers a formal manufacturer’s discount.

General Motors continues to stay quiet about sales of the Saturn Vue Green Line. Automotive News estimates monthly sales at 700 units, a figure that is in line with GM’s internal sales target for the vehicle. Our data shows that just 166 hybrid Vues were actually registered during the month following its launch, although far more units could have been shipped to dealers (and thus counted as "sales") that month. Until we have more information, we can’t be sure how well the Vue Green Line is selling.

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. (January – November 2006): 230,011

U.S. hybrid sales for November 2006

Model Units vs. 10/06 vs. 11/05
Insight 2
Prius 8,008
Civic Hybrid 2,208
Accord Hybrid 311
Camry Hybrid 3,100
Highlander Hybrid 1,667
RX400h 1,327
GS450h 176
Escape 1,323
Mariner 161
All hybrids 18,283

U.S. hybrid sales for November 2006 by manufacturer and model

United States Sales by Make

U.S. hybrid market yearly sales (1999 – 2006)

United States Yearly Sales

Regional Data

Source: R. L. Polk & Co.

Hybrids are finally catching on in the country’s heartland. There are more than 5,000 hybrids on the road in Chicago, and this month Madison, WI joins the list of cities where hybrids are most popular. Madison residents have bought almost 1000 hybrids in the past year. Despite their city’s snowy winters, buyers in Madison strongly prefer the Toyota Prius over hybrid SUVs.

States with the Highest Hybrid Sales

Rank State Registered Hybrids*
1 California 51,197
2 Texas 9,861
3 Florida 9,709
4 New York 9,033
5 Virginia 8,503
6 Illinois 7,023
7 Pennsylvania 6,496
8 Washington 6,381
9 Massachusetts 5,717
10 New Jersey 5,479
11 Maryland 5,268
12 North Carolina 5,225
13 Ohio 4,547
14 Oregon 4,399
15 Colorado 4,112

*2006 Registrations (September 2006 YTD)

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State Hybrids per 1000 residents*
1 California 1.42
2 Oregon 1.21
3 District of Columbia 1.19
4 Virginia 1.12
5 Vermont 1.12
6 Hawaii 1.02
7 Washington 1.01
8 New Hampshire 0.97
9 Maryland 0.94
10 Massachusetts 0.89
11 Colorado 0.88
12 Connecticut 0.75
13 Delaware 0.74
14 Arizona 0.69
15 New Mexico 0.68

*2006 Registrations (September 2006 YTD)

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 23,571
2 San Francisco 15,537
3 New York 10,885
4 Washington 9,090
5 Boston 5,998
6 Chicago 5,624
7 Seattle 5,310
8 Philadelphia 5,256
9 San Diego 3,876
10 Sacramento, CA 3,646
11 Denver 3,589
12 Portland, OR 3,335
13 Phoenix 3,106
14 Dallas/Ft. Worth 2,874
15 Houston 2,831

*2006 Registrations (September 2006 YTD)

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 8.19
2 San Francisco, CA 6.60
3 Monterey, CA 5.31
4 Santa Barbara, CA 4.62
5 Los Angeles 4.26
6 Washington, DC 4.04
7 Bend, OR 4.02
8 Charlottesville, VA 3.94
9 San Diego 3.78
10 Eugene 3.35
11 Honolulu 3.13
12 Seattle 3.12
13 Eureka 2.88
14 Sacramento, CA 2.71
15 Madison, WI 2.68

*2006 Registrations (September 2006 YTD)

Looking Ahead

The end of the year inevitably brings a frenzy of gift buying, holiday parties, and family visits. With so much to do, consumers probably won’t have car purchases foremost in their thoughts. So there’s a good chance that hybrid sales will end the year at levels similar to or slightly lower than those of November. Even if December sales follow last year’s trend and accelerate at year-end, 2006 hybrid sales should still come in at roughly a quarter-million units, a 20% increase from 2005. That’s impressive growth considering the overall vehicle sales grew just 2% in the past year.

Hybrids remain a tiny portion of the total vehicle market, but their share will continue to widen, particularly as new models enter the market. Early next year, Nissan will begin selling its Altima Hybrid, and Ford will launch restyled versions of its hybrid SUVs. It is possible that December sales will be impacted slightly as potential buyers wait for these models. The Altima, in particular, may prove to be a winner. The numbers suggest it will offer improved performance over the Camry Hybrid but with similar fuel economy, and it should attract buyers who already favor the Nissan brand. In the case of the Escape Hybrid, consumers shopping now must weigh the availability of cash incentives on the outgoing model against the new look of the freshened 2008 version.