Sales Numbers and Forecasts for Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid car sales have risen consistently in the U.S., since the Honda Insight debuted in the American market in 1999. In that year, only a couple of hundred Insights were sold. In the following years, U.S. hybrid sales generally doubled every year—until 2006 when sales increased more moderately.

  • 9,350 in 2000
  • 20,287 in 2001
  • 35,000 in 2002
  • 47,525 in 2003
  • 88,000 in 2004
  • 205,749 in 2005
  • 191,987 in 2006 (thru September)

Hybrids represented 1.2 percent of the total vehicles sold in 2005. The Toyota Prius led the way with 107,897 cars sold for the year—52 percent of the total hybrid market. The next most popular hybrid was the Honda Civic Hybrid, which sold nearly 26,000 units. In 2006, sales of the Civic Hybrid are likely to slip behind those for the Camry Hybrid and Toyota Highlander.

2006 Hybrid Sales – By Model
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept.
Toyota Prius 7,654 6,547 7,922 8,234 8,103 9,696 11,114 11,117 10,492
Honda Civic 3,165 1,780 2,232 3,087 2,890 2,601 2,673 3,411 2,508
Toyota Highlander 2,263 2,631 2,987 3,786 3,755 2,705 2,784 2,581 2,347
Lexus RX 400h 1,477 1,803 2,470 2,247 2,006 1,190 1,220 1,514 1,687
Ford Escape 801 1,233 1,590 3,420 2,862 1,884 2,060 1,789 1,651
Mercury Mariner 97 108
Toyota Camry 86 3,032 4,268 5,023 4,977 4,044
Lexus GS 450h 294 231 157 192 164
Honda Accord 351 783 581 614 520 396 504 499 389
Honda Insight 59 72 79 110 92 77 91 109 19
Totals 15,867 14,957 17,861 21,584 23,554 23,048 25,626 26,189 23,301
Total for Year (to date)

Regional Breakdown
The best indicator of adoption rates by geography are new hybrid vehicle registrations. In 2005, California strongly outpaced all other states with 52,619 new hybrid vehicle registrations, about 5 times that of second place Florida with 10,470. Texas came in third with 9,632; New York came in fourth with 9,372; and Virginia rounds out the top five with 8,650 new hybrid vehicle registrations in 2005.

In 2005, Los Angeles remains the top metropolitan area for hybrid vehicles with 22,922 new hybrid vehicle registrations. San Francisco also kept its number two ranking with 15,828 registrations, followed by New York with 11,351 hybrids. Washington, D.C. came in fourth at 9,396, followed by Boston with 3,641 new hybrid vehicle registrations in 2005. Each of these markets experienced significant growth in the number of new hybrid vehicle registrations compared with the previous year.

Where Do We Go From Here?
What are the market research firms predicting for the rest of the decade? Some are more optimistic than others, but all see a dramatic and consistent increase over the next several years:

  • By 2006, sales of hybrid vehicles will account for 10 percent of the 2 million midsize vehicles sold annually in the United States (ABI Research)
  • By 2007, at least 20 new hybrid models will appear in America (CSM Worldwide)
  • By 2007, over 400,000 hybrid vehicles will be sold in the USA (J.D. Power)
  • By 2008, 1.2 million hybrids will be sold in the U.S. market (Oak Ridge Labs)
  • By 2008, car buyers will have a choice of 35 hybrids (J.D. Power)
  • By 2010, 5 – 6% of all cars sold in America will be hybrids, assuming current petrol prices persist (ABI Research & Automotive Technology Research Group).
  • By 2011, about 35 hybrid models will be on the market , with that number exceeding 50 in 2012 (J.D. Power).

The most conservative estimate for 2010 and beyond has J.D. Power forecasting a plateau of three percent hybrid penetration in the U.S. market. The most optimistic and forward-looking prediction comes from Booz Allen Hamilton, a global strategy and technology-consulting firm. They predict that hybrid cars will make up 80 percent of the overall car market by 2015.

ExxonMobil, in its most recent outlook way out to the year 2030, pegs hybrid car sales at 30 percent of the new car market. The U.S. Energy Information Administration takes a more conservative longterm view, projecting hybrid sales at about seven percent, or 1.5 million sales, by 2025.

Despite rapid increases, hybrids as a percent of all vehicles in use will remain modest for a long time.

What Are The Manufacturers Saying?
“Hybrids are different than most technologies,” said John German, manager of Environmental and Energy Analyses for American Honda, “If an OEM is sitting back on developing diesel engines, he won’t be in too much trouble. But with hybrids, it’s becoming more and more sophisticated. You just can’t turn it on. If you don’t make the system now, as Toyota continues to make hybrids much cheaper and in greater numbers, the others won’t be able to catch up.”

German pondered that hybrids could reach 50 – 70 percent of the market in 10 years. He added, “I live in Detroit. I don’t want to see the Big 3 go out of business. But that’s a possibility.”

Dr. Michael Tamor, manager of Ford’s Sustainable Mobility Technologies stated, “If you think about the 15- to 20-year timeframe, you could argue that all vehicles are going to be hybrids. It’s just a matter of which powerplant is used in the hybrid system.” Tamor added, "To freeze time and pretend that hybrids are not going to happen doesn’t make sense.”