• Jan 25, 2009
Despite all the clamor about how hybrids are going to save the planet, cure cancer, facilitate the second coming, etc., sales of battery-pack-mobiles are down nearly ten percent for 2008. At the beginning of 2008, it looked like hybrids were going to have their best year ever, driven by high fuel prices and a recessive economy. That recession, however,has caused consumers to cut way back, leading to dramatic drop in fuel prices, killing much of the argument for a hybrid's price premium. Consumers shy away from hybrids when fuel dips below $3.50 per gallon, and the incessant clang of news stories about expensive fuel also dries up, causing the issue of fuel efficiency to fall from consciousness.

Toyota is still the hybrid sales king, with 241,000 units shifted in 2008. Honda managed to ring up 31,000 sales, and Ford came in third with nearly 20,000 vehicles sold. While nearly every automaker offering hybrids is down (Nissan actually saw a 5 percent increase, and General Motors garnered a whopping 179 percent jump thanks to its 2008 introductions), Ford was hardest hit, with a 22 percent drop. Some might say "we told you so" about the way things have played out - by the time everyone got on board with more efficient offerings, the bottom has fallen out of the price of fuel - and others might use the sales figures to agitate for a gas tax to stimulate the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles.

[Source: Auto News - sub req]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      They forget that autosales in general took a nose dive in '08. Gas prices will rise again (they're slowly going up now), and it'll pick back up.

      I personally dont see the need for a hybrid for my driving style. But, just as with people that lease (instead of buy) cars, it fits some people perfectly but others, not so much.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Idk, but screwing with the environment by making millions of large batteries that require rare-earth metals from China doesn't seem like a great solution either, although it may be all right for the short-term. I'm still thinking of cellulitic ethanol (hemp) and algae-based fuels as the way to go. After all, the sun is the longest lasting form of energy we have, so why not put as much of it to use as possible?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, it is mined in Canada, and shipped to China for processing, then shipped yet again to Japan to be but into your ugly little Prius, then shipped yet again to the US and get this, Canada.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah I know that we mine a lot of metals such as Nickel, in Canada. But I always thought that China is where most of the rare-earth elements are, which are needed to a significant amount in addition to the Nickel, Lithium, etc. Maybe I'm wrong.
      • 5 Years Ago
      wouldnt have anything to do with economic crysis that is rocking the world right now, would it?

      With overall car sales down by 18.7%, it means that Hybrids have increased their market share to highest in history. Hybrids fell at 2x slower rate than rest of the industry...

      Of course, you would have to be real journalist to understand that... oops.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A f***ing-men.

        Autobloggers write misleading headlines just to get us to read. Of course since these guys are not real journalists and never will be, this makes little difference to them. This kind of headline is intended for people who can't do basic math.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thats about half the drop of the overall car market. So Hybrids did pretty well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Considering that Hybrids are luxury vehicles, you're right.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly my thoughts LX!

        Hybrids are the device to buy us time to get to hydrogen infrastructure. For a great & exhaustive read about the nature of the oil industry and the prospects for hydrogen as a viable fuel check out The Hydrogen Economy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      An increase in the federal gas tax makes perfect economic sense on SO many levels, and is really desperately needed right now.

      While this particular data might be skewed by the overall dip in the industry, I think people in general are a lot more fuel-efficiency conscious. I agree with the comments about hydrogen's viability at the present.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think many people agree that a tax if used responsibly to enhance energy independence through research and infrastructure improvements would be a good thing.

        However, I think most people KNOW that in the governments hands (DEMs or REPs) this tax will balloon into way more than the original intent and will not accomplish anything that we are told it will. That is why many people oppose it.

        Wellfare began with focused and good intentions. We all know how that's turning out to be a good investment in perhaps only 25% of the cases.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What we need are hydrogen cars not hybrid cars. The US gov't has been giving money to everyone so why not give them to the automakers to make hydrogen cars? Instead of living off the puss of the earth and giving all our money to the middle east!
        • 5 Years Ago
        the problem with that is there aren't hydrogen gas stations... Also you have to get the hydrogen from water, that takes energy. 50% of our energy is coal based...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yea, I am all for Nuclear Energy. There is no such thing as "clean" coal! Hybrid Gas stations are not hard to build, just refit current gas stations with hydrogen tanks instead of gasoline. The point of hydrogen is the energy to make it can come from anywhere, solar, wind, nuclear, etc. Where as gas only comes from oil..
        • 5 Years Ago
        I disagree,

        We have no idea where battery tech will be in the next 5-10 years. We could have battery/super capacitor powered cars that travel 400 miles on a 15 minute charge. Most importantly though, the infrastructure for transporting electricity is already there, although it might have to be beefed up a little if everyone switches to electric cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not hard to build Hydrogen pumps, what is difficult is supplying them with hydrogen. Especially once you start talking about everybody driving FC cars. Thats a lot of hydrogen which needs to be delivered under immense pressure to the fueling stations.

        It's no small effort.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hydrogen is not viable right now. And handing out money isn't going to fix it soon.

        Right now hydrogen is made by steam reformation of natural gas.

        Splitting it from water would be nice, but right now isn't terribly clean. Electric (battery) cars are far more efficient if you can live with the limitations.

        I look forward to hydrogen developments. But right now we need to make due with what we have.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The price of oil was about 150 dollar in mid-summer. In just a few months it dropped about 70 percent. Right now it's about 40 dollars. That cannot be explained by a drop in demand. I don't think there's that much of drop in demand. The reason for the drop is:

      Before this crisis in the financial markets, there was a lot of liquidity in the market that was looking for a place to go. One place that money came to was the commodity market. Not just oil, but a lot of different kinds commodities (wheat, copper, etc.) had huge price gains in just a couple of years. And a good reason for that was speculation due to excess liquidity. Once the excess liquidity dried up and once there was huge demand for those funds in the banks' vaults, the money ran out of the commodities markets and the price of oil and other commodities dropped all of a sudden. Sure, there was probably some demand decrease but that was the minor reason for the roller coaster ride in the price of oil.
      • 5 Years Ago

      With the new Prius and Insight coming soon, perhaps hybrid sales might pick up again. Also the new Fusion Hybrid has got rave reviews and might get more sales.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No surprise here, hybrids are expensive. Also people in more rural areas buy them and are completely useless to them. Those people are getting the same MPG as the same vehicle in a non-hybrid configuration.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good thing for hybrid makers there are a lot more auto consumer dollars in urban areas than in rural areas.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The blogosphere circle jerk is in overdrive on this backwards story.

      Overall auto sales dropped around 18% IIRC.
      Hybrid sales dropped 10%.

      So hybrids actually increased market share again this year. They didn't drop compared to the rest of the market as this brain impaired story makes it sound.

      Stupid is as stupid does.
        • 5 Years Ago
        EXACTLY! Thank you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        and small cars like mini gained, most hybrids are perceived as small and compared to regular gas powered small cars. guess the hybrids lost afterall.
      • 5 Years Ago
      too funny. the people have spoken.
        • 5 Years Ago
        want another example: "American Honda Motor Co. and Toyota each sold 12.5 percent fewer hybrids last year than in 2007. " As I recall Honda lost 6% or so. So there hybrids lost even more then there regular sales.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course they've spoken, but perhaps their words were misunderstood. I believe nearly all car sales have fallen in 2008. I'd check for market share rather than just sheer vehicle-type sales. I'd bet that SUV sales took a bit of a dip in 2008 too, but more of one than hybrid sales.
        • 5 Years Ago
        actually mini sales (small cars like most hybrids that sold in any numbers) are up. Dont think too hard, you might hurt yourself.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Indeed they have spoken, but their words seem to have been misinterpreted. I believe SUV sales dropped by even larger numbers, and same for other vehicles. Look for market share, not sheer percent sold because I'd think that every vehicle type took a serious hit in 2008.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "the people have spoken..."

        Nope. Not even close...

        Total sales of the Hummer brand for 2008 fell nearly 50%. So if Hybrid's fall by 8% then this is actually a victory for hybrids.
        • 5 Years Ago
        People have spoken? New flash, hundreds of thousands of Americans loosing jobs every month, the people don't have money. Since you're an expert, firstplace, what kind of drop was seen in non hybrid cars of the same size? SUVs? etc? Oh... more than 10%? Critical thinking is fun and easy :).
        • 5 Years Ago
        What a ridiculous article. Hybrids experienced less of a decline than gasoline-powered cars. Wouldn't that make them more desirable, comparatively?

        The people have spoken indeed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Fine then give the money to research institutions such as universities to develop ways to efficiently extract Hydrogen. This may sound like a big waste, but the pay offs are big too!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow. I'm glad that not everyone here slept through high-school statistics.

        Total U.S. vehicle sales fell 18% in 2008. Hybrid sales only fell 9.9%. So while the total sales pie shrank, hybrids' piece of it got bigger.

        That hissing sound is the smugness going out of Roth's post.
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