Ouch! Sales of Hybrid Cars Down 42.8% in December

us hybrid sales 2008 image

-10% for 2008
Hybrid cars have suffered from a power 1-2 combo punch in recent months. First, the global economic meltdown (housing bubble bursting, credit crunch, etc) sharply reduce car sales overall, and then oil prices fell like a rock, reducing the pain at the pump. This resulted in a year with a 10% drop in hybrid vehicle sales, and a staggering -42.8% in December compared to last year. Read on for more.Going Backwards
While it's probably a good thing that car sales are down overall, what we don't want is to go back to the days of very cheap gas and big SUVs. If hybrids sell badly for long enough, carmakers might reduce their investments in new models and R&D;, delaying the move towards more efficient transportation (a lot of tech developed for gas-electric hybrids can be used in plug-in hybrids, diesel-electric hybrids, electric cars, fuel cell vehicles, etc).

For example, in December 2008, 17,698 hybrids were sold. That's the lowest number since December 2004, when only four hybrid models on the market.

The Toyota Prius, always the best-selling hybrid out there, actually lost a bit more terrain than the average with a drop of 44.7%. It's no surprise that Toyota has delayed the construction of the Mississippi Prius plant and has decided to halt Japanese production for 11 days...

Update: Overall light-duty vehicle sales in the US dropped 35.5% in the month. Total light duty vehicle sales were down 18% for 2008.

See also: Green Cars of 2008: Mega-Ginormous Summary of the Year

Via Green Car Congress
Image: Green Car Congress
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