2012 was a rocking year for hybrid vehicle sales here in the US, and Ward's Auto has written up an interesting piece that breaks some of the sales data down. The number-crunchers have tallied, for instance, that the 427,605 hybrids sold in 2012 is a 64-percent increase on the 261,507 sold in 2011.

Those numbers are big enough to beat out whole other mainstream segment sales, says Ward's, including midsize luxury cars, small crossovers/utility vehicles, and three separate SUV segments.

However, if we step back and take a closer at the real numbers for actual hybrids, the jump that Ward's is highlighting might actually be more a product of a booming market than anything. For instance: the article points out that US market share for "alternative-fuel" vehicles grew from 2.8 percent in 2009 to 3.3 percent in 2012. Of course, diesel vehicle sales from Audi and Volkswagen account for more that 100k of that group, and another 11,000-odd EVs push up that market share, too. (Read the handy AutoblogGreen alt-fuel sales report for the end of 2012, if you want a more complete breakdown.)

All of that means that true hybrid market share was less than three percent for 2012 – and closer to the 2009 levels – despite having a much improved total volume in a much improved car market. That's good news for car makers, for sure, but we're slightly less bullish than Ward's about the pro-hybrid message being sent by US car buyers.