Hybrid Vehicle Sales Take a Dive

A new study revealed that more car buyers are choosing plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) while fewer are choosing traditional hybrid vehicles. Both types are considered to be electric vehicles, and hybrid sales far outnumber PEV sales.
September 16, 2014, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"A study by online automotive research company Edmunds.com suggests a stall in the market for electrically powered cars, led by a decline in hybrids," writes Charles Fleming of the Los Angeles Times.

However, the study defines electric vehicles to include hybrid vehicles that lack home charging capability, i.e. plugs, and that's key to understanding the study's findings. In fact, the research by Senior Analyst and Director of Pricing and Industry Analysis, Jessica Caldwell, "showed substantial gains in the pure EV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV or PHV) segments -- 35% and 44%, respectively," writes Fleming.

But traditional hybrid sales fell from 350,530 vehicles from January to August last year to 327,418 during the same period in 2014. [A decline of 6.6%]

Sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which includes any electric vehicle with a plug, are recorded by Inside EVs. Note the five top-sellers from January through August this year:

  1. Nissan Leaf:        18,941
  2. Chevy Volt:         13,146
  3. Toyota Prius PHV: 11,489
  4. Ford Fusion Energi  8,683
  5. Tesla Model S:       8,500

However, the drop in hybrid sales brought down the market share of electric vehicle share of the total auto market. "So far this year, they account for 3.66% of all vehicles sold, down from 3.84% for the same period a year ago," notes Fleming.

As for reasons to explain why traditional hybrid vehicles have dropped in sales, Caldwell suggests "stable gas prices, increasingly good fuel-efficiency levels of gas cars, (and) higher average price of electric vehicles.

Indeed, the latest gasoline price projections show continued declines resulting from "a global glut of crude oil", notwithstanding the increasing political turbulence due to tensions with Islamic State.

"This was a market that was supposed to grow, relatively rapidly, as people embraced these new technologies and more brands began selling these models,” said Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell. “That hasn’t happened.

Further, it comes during a year in which sales of all cars have been booming. The industry just reported its best August in more than a decade, and it has gained about 5% so far this year compared with the same period last year.

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Published on Thursday, September 4, 2014 in Los Angeles Times
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