in partnership with Polk

Hybrids Worldwide

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

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

September was another lackluster month for auto sales, and hybrids were no exception. The Prius and Camry, the two highest-volume hybrids, posted sales growth relative to last year, but virtually every other hybrid model showed sales declines. The Highlander Hybrid experienced the most extreme drop (92%) as Toyota shipped the few remaining 2007 models in preparation for next month’s changeover to the updated 2008 version. Yet even with stalled Highlander Hybrid sales, Toyota vehicles still accounted for 80% of the hybrid market. September also was the final month for new Toyota hybrid buyers to receive tax credits, but the last-chance tax incentive seemed to provide little (if any) assistance in moving Toyota and Lexus hybrids out of showrooms.

September marked the second consecutive month that U.S. hybrid sales were below 2% of overall vehicle sales. For the year, hybrid growth still looks pretty healthy: in the first nine months of 2007, hybrid sales rose 38% while the general auto market fell by 3%. But this month’s results show that hybrids are suffering from the same malaise that is affecting all new vehicles. New and reworked hybrid models (including the Highlander Hybrid, Saturn VUE Green Line, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, and the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon two-mode hybrids) will help when they arrive this fall, but consumer confidence must improve before hybrid sales can resume their growth trend.

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 2007 volumes based on sales-to-date.

Hybrids sold in the U.S. (September 2007): 22,973

US hybrid sales for September 2007

Model Units vs. 8/07 vs. 9/06
Altima 756 17.6% n/a
Prius 12,494 -11.1% 19.1%
Civic 2,092 -0.5% -16.6%
Accord 229 -16.7% -41.1%
Camry 4,196 -2.1% 3.8%
Highlander 193 -48.9% -91.8%
RX400h 979 -16.5% -42.0%
GS450h 72 -44.6% -56.1%
LS600hL 196 26.6% n/a
Escape 1,348 -12.2% -1.5%
Mariner 304 2.4% 7.8%
Vue 51 -64.1% n/a
Aura 63 -38.8% n/a
All hybrids 22,973 -9.5% -1.4%
All vehicles 1,315,357 -11.0% -2.9%

U.S. hybrid sales for September 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 2007. 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 55,878
2 Florida 11,535
3 Texas 10,928
4 New York 10,806
5 Washington 8,289
6 Illinois 7,995
7 Virginia 7,503
8 Pennsylvania 6,903
9 Massachusetts 6,224
10 New Jersey 5,771
11 Arizona 5,679
12 Maryland 5,528
13 Oregon 5,399
14 North Carolina 5,068
15 Colorado 4,980

*Registrations CYTD July 2007

States where hybrids are most popular

Rank State New Hybrids per 1000 Residents*
1 California 1.546
2 Oregon 1.483
3 Washington 1.318
4 Vermont 1.270
5 District of Columbia 1.177
6 New Hampshire 1.070
7 Colorado 1.067
8 Connecticut 1.013
9 Virginia 0.991
10 Maryland 0.987
11 Massachusetts 0.973
12 Arizona 0.956
13 Nevada 0.809
14 New Mexico 0.807
15 Rhode Island 0.798
  US State Average 0.666

*Registrations CYTD July 2007

Metropolitan areas with the highest hybrid sales

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids*
1 Los Angeles 25,206
2 San Francisco 16,217
3 New York 12,529
4 Washington, DC 8,023
5 Seattle 6,991
6 Boston 6,523
7 Chicago 6,435
8 Philadelphia 5,443
9 Sacramento 4,852
10 Phoenix 4,727
11 Portland, OR 4,509
12 San Diego 4,443
13 Denver 4,378
14 Dallas-Ft. Worth 3,321
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 3,303

*Registrations CYTD July 2007

Metropolitan areas where hybrids are most popular

Rank Metropolitan Area New Hybrids per 1000 Households*
1 Portland, OR 11.077
2 San Francisco, CA 6.884
3 Monterey, CA 5.704
4 Santa Barbara, CA 4.681
5 Los Angeles 4.553
6 Bend, OR 4.332
7 San Diego 4.330
8 Seattle 4.108
9 Charlottesville, CA 3.943
10 Sacramento 3.605
11 Washington, DC 3.562
12 Eugene, OR 3.350
13 Palm Springs, CA 3.174
14 Denver 3.094
15 Burlington, VT 3.064
  US Metro Area Average 1.461

*Registrations CYTD July 2007

Looking Ahead

More specifications emerged for GM’s two-mode hybrid SUVs, which are scheduled to arrive in dealerships this December. Automotive News reported that fuel economy for the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Tahoe will be higher than previously expected, with two-wheel-drive versions attaining 21 MPG in city driving and 22 MPG on the highway. While still low in comparison to a Prius, the fuel economy of GM’s two-mode hybrids is respectable for a large, 5300-pound vehicle. In the city, the full-sized hybrid SUVs get about the same mileage as a small family sedan like the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, or Volkswagen Passat. On the highway, GM’s two-mode SUVs are a bit thirstier, using slightly less fuel than their non-hybrid counterparts, but far more than the average family sedan.

Overall, GM seems to have done to the Tahoe and Yukon what Toyota did to the Camry. Fuel economy of the hybrid versions is 10% higher on the highway, and about 50% better in the city. But we’ll have to wait and see if GM experiences the same sales success as Toyota has. Currently, one of every 10 Camrys sold in the US is a hybrid. If GM can achieve the same take rate, it will mean that roughly 20,000 households put a GM hybrid SUV in their garages next year, an exciting prospect for those who are eager to see hybrid technology become more popular.