2009 Ford Escape Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

There's no doubt about which automaker leads the hybrid vehicle race. Toyota – and particularly the Japanese automaker's Prius hybrid – outsells all other manufacturers combined. In total, Automotive News calculates that Toyota sold 144,351 hybrid vehicles in the first nine months of 2009, which actually represents a 28-percent drop from the previous year.

So far this year, Honda has come in second with its new Insight, but that position is currently in jeopardy. The 26,016 hybrid vehicles sold by Ford in the first nine months of the year represents an impressive 73-percent gain from last year. Honda has sold 29,958 hybrids so far in '09, representing a much smaller eight-percent increase. In both July and September, Ford actually sold more hybrids than Honda.

In other words, Ford, led by its Escape Hybrid and new-for-2010 Fusion Hybrid, is gaining on Honda at a very rapid pace. Moving on down the line, General Motors slots in at number four with 12,556 total hybrid so far this year and Nissan's 7,713 units make it the number five hybrid seller in the U.S.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req'd]

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