U.S. Hybrid Car Sales in March... Not Good At All

hybrid sales march 2009 image

Image: Green Car Congress
Remember the Prius Waiting Lists?
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you know that car sales are down. Way down. The light duty vehicle sales stats for March 2009 show a 36.8% drop by volume compared to March 2008, and March 2008 probably didn't break any records in the first place... But hybrid cars are doing even worse than that: minus 44% in March 2009. There are two main things that can explain that, I think.
hybrid sales march 2009 image

Image: Green Car Congress
It's the Economy, Stupid
The first, and biggest factor, is of course the economic recession. This has two effects on potential hybrid car buyers: 1) They have less money in their pockets, so might opt not to buy a car at all, or to buy a less expensive model, and 2) less economic activity = less demand for energy = lower oil prices (more or less), which makes fuel efficient hybrids seem like less of a good deal (unlike when gasoline was $4/gallon in the US).

Everybody Wants the Latest and Greatest
The second factor probably has a smaller effect, but it shouldn't be underestimated. The Toyota Prius is the best selling hybrid car out there, and Toyota is coming out with a more fuel-efficient totally redesigned Prius for 2010. This probably means that many people are waiting for the third generation Prius to come out before buying a hybrid. The numbers seem to confirm this: "Sales of the Toyota Prius were off 56.8% by volume from March 2008, down to 8,924 units."

Via Green Car Congress
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