U.S. Hybrid Sales Down 9.9% for 2008
Despite the fact that hybrid vehicles saw increased publicity in 2008 from record-high gasoline prices, sales of the fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States were actually down 9.9 percent over 2007. Vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic saw record sales when gasoline prices topped $4.00 per gallon, but when the price dropped and the economy started to really slide customers shied away from the price premium (usually a few thousand dollars) associated with hybrid cars. Compared to the whole industry falling by 18 percent, the hybrid market remained relatively strong and posted a slight gain in market share rising from 2.17% of total sales in 2007 up to 2.38% for 2008.
With its iconic Prius leading the charge, Toyota dominated the hybrid market by gobbling up 76.5 percent of the market’s share, but its overall sales of hybrid models were down 12.5 percent. Combined, the Big 3 accounted for less than 11 percent of the market, but General Motors and Ford are both hard at work ramping up their respective hybrid lineups with new products set to debut this year. Chrysler, on the other hand, sold just 81 hybrid vehicles in 2008 and recently shuttered the plant that built its only two hybrid models: the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen. Thanks to the numerous additions of hybrids across four of its brands, GM’s hybrid sales nearly tripled in 2008.
With cars such as the low-priced Honda Insight, luxury Lexus HS 250h, two-mode Saturn Vue Hybrid and 41-mpg Ford Fusion hybrid debuting in 2009, consumers will have more hybrid models to choose from than ever before.