News: Say Goodbye to the Lexus CT 200h

News: Say Goodbye to the Lexus CT 200h

Sales Drop Spells the End of Lexus’ Best-Selling Hybrid

For most of us, six years does not seem all that long. Over the past six years, however, the automotive industry has seen a rapid advancement in hybrid and electric technology. Six years ago the Tesla Model S was still a year away from release, and the second generation Prius was only a year into production.

2017 Lexus CT 200h

This is us leaving

It was at that time that Lexus first released their CT200h; a car that would change the luxury-hybrid segment. Six years later, however, the CT is still very much the same car, and no longer changing the game.

Since its release in 2011, the Lexus CT200h has been the brand’s entry-level offering for anyone looking to dip a toe into the luxury segment. It was recently announced, however, that the hybrid hatchback will not return to the U.S. market for the 2018 model year.

Competition Leaves Lexus in the Dust

Despite its original success, Lexus sold just 8,903 copies of the CT200h in 2016, a fraction of the sales numbers seen by other entry-luxury models. Competitors Mercedes-Benz and Audi sold 25,792 copies of the CLA-class and 31,538 copies of the A3, respectively, during the same time frame.

2017 Lexus CT 200h

2017 Lexus CT 200h drives off scene

Competition from other brands has not been the only problem for the CT200h. Based on the old Prius platform, the CT began to look a bit outdated in recent years; especially when compared to its younger cousin, the third-gen Prius, whose EPA estimated 52 mpg combined far outclassed the CT’s EPA estimated 42 mpg. Sales in the first five months of 2017 were down more than 10 percent from the previous year. Even with that drop, it was the best-selling Lexus hybrid.

For those concerned with the disappearance of the CT200h, fear not. A new subcompact crossover called the UX will arrive soon, and a likely hybrid model will replace the outgoing hatchback.

For now, though, buyers looking for an entry-level Lexus will have to turn to the NX crossover or shop around for the last CTs still on the lot.

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Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars of 2014 (January-March)

Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars of 2014 (January-March)

Toyota,Prius,Plug-in,EV,sales

Still leading the hybrid way

Electric Cars, Plug-in Hybrids, Diesels Lead the New Year Charge.

When sales are down, the excuses flow. We’ve been hearing them for three months as January-March automotive sales are almost flat compared to last year in defiance of what appears to be ongoing economic recovery. It’s the terrible weather, some say. Rising prices, others add. Some alternatives to conventional gasoline-powered cars don’t have to make any excuses; their sales are humming along quite nicely, thank you.

While overall sales languished a mere 1.3 percent above the first quarter of 2013, high-mileage electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and clean diesels continued a torrid pace similar to what they were experiencing during most of last year. The only laggard in this group was gas-electric hybrids, which dropped almost 16 percent compared to last year, based heavily on declining sales of several Prius models. Check out the gains:

  • Plug-in hybrids were up 36.8 percent compared to January-March 2013
  • Diesels were up 19 percent
  • Pure battery electrics were up 13.4 percent

The year has also started with some juggling of the Top 10 compared to the previous year’s rankings. The Prius remains the top dog by a long shot, the only true mainstream vehicle among these alternatives, but Ford’s Fusion Hybrid is now a solid No. 2 and the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S (both pure electrics) appear to have moved permanently into the Top 10 along with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

What may be an interesting sidelight to the overall positive news is the decline in total hybrid sales despite a record total of 44 models on the market. The big drop among Toyota models, which continue to dominate the segment, appears to be the culprit in the slip. The 22 diesels, nine battery electric cars and seven plug-in hybrids on the market pushed the total 82 alternatives to gasoline vehicles. And of course those gasoline vehicles have been getting more efficient, too, adding to the competition.

Another sidelight to note is the exceptions to falling year-to-year sales among the Top 10. The Volkswagen Passat TDI, Sonata Hybrid, Nissan Leaf and Lexus CT 200h had increased sales compared to last year while the other six fell.

Top 10 Sales January-March 2014

On top of the group – always – is the Toyota Prius, the only model on the chart with a reasonable chance of breaking 100,000 units in sales for the year. Even dropping more than 25 percent from last year’s sales total the Prius still captures just under a quarter of the total hybrid market. Most of the rest of the Top 10 are regulars, but represent the diversity that characterizes the 21st century automotive market – hybrids, diesels, battery electrics and plug-in hybrids all have representatives. In the chart below we’ve listed the sales for the first quarter of 2014 with the 2013 numbers in parentheses.

1. Toyota Prius – 25,578 – (34,981) The Prius is unchallenged as the leader among all of the alternatives, a mainstream car that ranks up with the best selling standard cars. Its share of hybrid sales is dropping as are its sales numbers as the car comes up on a model changeover in a year or so.

2. Ford Fusion Hybrid – 9,606 – (10,266) Ford’s flagship hybrid is having a good year though not quite as good as last year at this time. What is significant is that it’s solidly outselling its main rival, The Toyota Camry

Ford,Fusion,start-stop,

Fusion moves up in sales in 2014

Hybrid.

3. Toyota Prius c – 8,833 – (9,865) The “baby” Prius continues to attract entry-level hybrid seekers and had a strong first quarter, with its sales dropping less than some of the other Prius variants.

4. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 8,782 – (12,434) The Camry’s hybrid version has slipped among hybrids this year, but its sales are still strong enough to keep it high on this list.

5. Volkswagen Jetta TDI – 8,151 – (9,604) The clean diesel standard-bearer continues to slot itself right alongside hybrid competitors, even with a drop in sales compared to last year. Along with the Passat TDI, they account for more than have of all diesel sales at this point.

VW,Passat,TDI,clean diesel

VW Passat TDI had a record month

6. Volkswagen Passat TDI – 7,769 – (7,240) The Jetta’s “big brother” has put a push on its sales in 2014, surpassing sales records for the TDI version set last year. In March the Passat TDI outsold the Jetta TDI.

7. Toyota Prius V – 6,001 – (8,525) The Prius “wagon” is having a tough year so far, dropping even more in sales than the Prius, but still maintaining a good position in the overall sales chart.

8. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid  – 5.677 – (4,256) Call it the stealth hybrid. Hyundai’s hybrid models flies under the radar somewhat, but has had a great first quarter maintaining a position it moved into last year. With the Kia Optima Hybrid using the same technology the combined sales from the Korean manufacturer have moved past the Toyota Camry Hybrid level, though slightly below the Ford Fusion.

9. Nissan Leaf – 5,184 – (3,539) Nissan’s pure electric car continues to benefit from strong word-of-mouth and a price drop earlier in the year from a shift of most production to the U.S. It has been setting sales records and appears to have established itself as a viable model.

10. Tesla Model S – 4,000 – (4,750) Tesla’s pure electric has estimated sales numbers (they release the official ones when they report their quarterly earnings so we only get a glimpse of the real numbers intermittently). Production continues at a high level, but the shift of sales to Europe and soon Asia (as well as a potential saturation of the U.S. market) is affecting U.S. sales (which is all we report). It does have the “honor” of being the most expensive car in this list by a good margin.

10. Lexus CT 200h Hybrid – 4,000 – (3,245) A redesign of Lexus’ small hybrid appears to have revived its sales and bumps it into the Top 10 for this quarter.

Bubbling below the Top 10 (or 11 in this case) are several models that help boost hybrid sales. The sales numbers are close enough to those in the Top 10 that these models are likely to move up later in the year. The Ford C-Max Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Lexus ES Hybrid have now been joined by the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. This group doesn’t rack up big numbers, but add to the strength of the whole segment.

Photos from manufacturers

Posted April 14, 2014 (compiled with Hybridcars.com & Automotive News information as reported by manufacturers)

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Smart EV Wins Best Eco Car Award

Smart EV Wins Best Eco Car Award

Small but top of the list

Small Cars Lead List of Greenest Automobiles.

Maybe it’s the time of year. We’ve got Olympics competition and all of the medals and ranking of athletes and countries that goes with that. We’ve got the Academy Awards and all of those statuettes. So it makes sense that this is the awards season for automobiles as well. Magazines hand out their “Best of” trophies and multitudinous “Top 10” lists. We’ve been guilty of that as well.

So, recognizing that the value of a Top 10 list may be in direct proportion to its focus, we’d like to present the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s Top 10 Greenest Cars and throw in some explanation and commentary. Let’s start with the list:

  1. Smart ForTwo ED – pure electric – two-seat minicar
  2. Toyota Prius c – hybrid – subcompact
  3. Nissan Leaf – pure electric – compact
  4. Toyota Prius – hybrid

    toyota-prius-plug-in-price drop

    Toyotas dominate the Eco list

  5. Honda Civic Hybrid – hybrid – compact
  6. Lexus CT 200h – hybrid – compact
  7. Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid – plug-in hybrid –
  8. Mitsubishi Mirage – gasoline – compact
  9. Honda Civic Natural Gas – natural gas – compact
  10. Honda Insight – hybrid – compact

Bubbling just below the list were the conventional Smart ForTwo and the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Our colleague Jim Motavelli of Plugincars.com did some digging into the criteria used to rank the “greenness” of the cars. He found that the weight of a vehicle was a big factor in the non-profit group’s “complex” formula along with manufacturing-related emissions.  The ACEEE’s summary of their methodology is explained this way:

“We analyze automakers’ test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, along with other specifications reported by automakers. We estimate pollution from vehicle manufacturing, from the production and distribution of fuel and from vehicle tailpipes. We count air pollution, such as fine particles, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and other pollutants according to the health problems caused by each pollutant. We then factor in greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) and combine the emissions estimates into a Green Score that runs on a scale from 0 to 100. The top vehicle this year scores a 59, the average is 37 and the worst gas-guzzlers score around 17.”

As you can see by the scores, it’s a tough test and no one does that well. ACEEE is 30-plus-year-old nonprofit organization that is very serious about promoting energy efficiency. But I see as the subtext of the ACEEE’s approach a negative view of the private automobile. What kind of ranking has the best  contestants scoring 60 percent? The curve with these guys starts low and goes down from there. Cars are bad, but some are worse than others.

ford,F-150,aluminum,lightweighting,EcoBoost

Eco trucks should also be on the list

Our approach at Clean Fleet Report is a little more accommodating. We believe people need a variety of different vehicles for different uses and different situations. Yes, vehicles have negative environmental impacts, but so do most other activities. We should be aware of them and do our best to minimize or mitigate them, but activity cannot stop because of a heavy vehicle or fuel economy that doesn’t reach Prius levels. We know that full-size pickup trucks are unlikely to ever reach Prius-level MPG; that’s basic physics. They can get better and we’re reporting on that regularly because you should be able to choose the best vehicle for the job.

Not that ACEEE doesn’t also make a nod toward the different uses of vehicles, breaking out the best vehicles by class in their list, but I’m afraid being told the best vehicle in a class scored a 35 out of a possible 100 is not exactly a ringing endorsement – nor does it make anyone who values these ratings a likely buyer.

For my money, I think  you need to do what we do here at Clean Fleet Report, evaluate vehicles in the real world and show their capabilities and deficiencies, with a heavy weight given to environmentally positive attributes. But putting a two-seat, 8-foot-long Smart on the same list as a full-size half-ton pickup doesn’t give the reader very valuable information.

Photos by Michael Coates and the manufacturers

Posted Feb. 23, 2014

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Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars of 2013

Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars of 2013

You say hybrid-we say Prius

Actually January through November, but we know the way this end.

We know the year isn’t over yet, but we also know the only thing that will change between now and Dec. 31 on the sales charts are the actual numbers. We’ve got a very good sense of which are the Top 10 best-selling High-MPG cars of 2013, so we’re not afraid to let you know early (in case it fits into your holiday shopping plans).

The year 2013 is almost over and the auto industry is moving toward the best sales year in half a decade. High mileage electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and clean diesels are drafting along with the positive sales year and going beyond, with each segment besting the overall market as new models enter and draw attention. The expectation is for aggressive selling to continue through the rest of the year, but it’s a good time to regroup and declare the Top 10 winners for the year.

If you’ve been following our coverage throughout the year, you’ll recognize the players – the Prius liftback dominates the 42 hybrid models now on the market; VW’s Jetta and Passat takes the lion’s share of diesel sales (although now joined by 20 other models) and the plug-in segment (now totaling 15 models) splits fairly evenly between the pure electric Nissan Leaf and the extended range Chevy Volt. Then Tesla and Toyota carve up most of the rest of this segment, which has shown the most dynamic growth this year.

These three segments of high-MPG models (augmented by a few natural gas Honda Civics) are pacing the market and all three are adding new models, which portends continued growth. That said, the penetration of the by hybrids, plug-ins and diesels still totals less than five percent of the overall market.

Sales in 2014 Expected to Keep Rolling

Auto analysts predict the positive sales trends will continue into 2014 as the economy improves and all indications are that these high-MPG models will also keep ahead of the rest of the market. The Top 10 vehicles in sales are relatively consistent while a couple models on the margins of the sales numbers shuffle places among the top 14 or 15.

On top of the group – always – is the Toyota Prius. With a several year head start on most of the other cars on sales, it’s sales are typically triple those in the next tier. In the second tier are the models breaking into the mainstream, selling well enough to assure their continued existence in the market, but well below the Prius level. At this level the VW diesels – Jetta and Passat – are joined by the midsize Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion hybrids as well as two Prius variants, the c and V and the Ford C-Max hybrid. The electric Leaf and Volt are bubbling significantly below the second tier group and are joined by a group of hybrids along with the Tesla Model S.

Details on sales for the first 11 months of the year as well as the month of November (parenthetically) follow. It’s shaping up to be a solid year for these high-MPG cars.

1. Toyota Prius – 135,291 – (9,801) The Prius is unchallenged as the leader among all of the alternatives, a mainstream car that ranks up with the best selling standard cars. It captures almost a third of all hybrid sales even though it is well into its product cycle (it was introduced in 2009) and probably will need to kick up its game as its 50 MPG rating doesn’t make it stand out when compared with the mileage plug-in hybrids are delivering.

2. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 41,722 – (2,998) The Camry’s hybrid version is a solid second best among hybrids for the year though in November it dropped below the Prius c in sales.

toyota,camry,hybrid,mpg,power,fuel economy

A Hybrid with real-world acceleration

3. Volkswagen Jetta TDI – 41,089 – (2,936) The clean diesel standard-bearer is pushing toward the top of the second tier, virtually neck-and-neck with the Camry Hybrid in sales. It accounts for fully one-fourth of diesel sales at this point.

4. Toyota Prius c – 39,169 – (3,001) The “baby” Prius continues to attract entry-level hybrid seekers and had a strong November, second only to the Prius liftback. This smallest, least expensive hybrid in the Toyota lineup helped Toyota to a 1-2-3 podium finish among hybrid sales, Ford is mounting a challenge.

5. Ford Fusion Hybrid – 34,502 – (2,769) The flagship of hybrid fuel economy at Ford is leading a challenge by that automaker to Toyota’s dominance of the hybrid segment, although its approach to fuel economy includes also plug-in versions of the Fusion and C-Max, an all-electric Focus and its conventional EcoBoost engines.

6. Volkswagen Passat TDI – 32,754 – (2,432) The Jetta’s “big brother” has steadily maintained its sales trajectory during the year, setting sales records for the TDI version of the midsize model. The two VWs (and the company’s three other TDI models) give the company a dominating position in the diesel market similar to Toyota’s with hybrids with more than 70 percent of the diesel market.

7. Toyota Prius V – 32,879 – (2,227) The Prius “wagon” is having a good year, adding to Toyota dominance of the hybrid market, where Toyota and Lexus models take almost 65 percent of total sales.

Ford-CMax-Hybrid-bestseller

Ford C-Max Hybrid

8. Ford C-Max Hybrid – 26,858 – (1,457) Ford’s hybrid “wagon,” along with the Prius V, demonstrates that there is a clear demand for more versatility along with good fuel economy, although C-Max sales have been slipping during the last few months of the year.

9. Chevrolet Volt – 20,702 – (1,920) The Volt is selling on par with last year as a price drop on 2013 models boosted sales and 2014 models carried on with lower prices.

10. Nissan Leaf – 20,081 – (2,003) Nissan’s pure electric car has been benefiting from strong word-of-mouth and a price drop earlier in the year. It’s heading for its best sales year and looks like it will stay in the Top 10.

11. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid  – 19,640 – (1,866) Hyundai’s hybrid models flies under the radar somewhat, but had a great November where it finished sixth among hybrids. With the Kia Optima Hybrid using the same technology the combined sales from the Korean manufacturer are almost at the Toyota Camry Hybrid level.

12. Tesla Model S – 16,950 – (1,400) Tesla’s pure electric has estimated sales numbers (they release the official ones when they report their quarterly earnings so we only get a glimpse of the real numbers intermittently. Production has been steadily increasing during the year as the company fills its orders for its expensive, but exquisite sedan and begins ramping up exports, which is already starting to affect U.S. sales (which is all we report). It does have the “honor” of being the most expensive car in this list by a good margin.

Bubbling below the Top 10 (or 12 in this case) are several models that help boost hybrid sales. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Lexus ES Hybrid, Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Kia Optima

Toyota has added hybrid models to the lineup like the Avalon Hybrid and Lexus CT 200h Hybrid don’t rack up big numbers, but they add to the strength of the segment – and cumulatively accounted for more than 50,000 additional hybrid sales.

This segment shows a great amount of strength as new models continue to be introduced. There were eight brand-new hybrid models in 2013 (and several more that were barely launched in 2012); six new plug-ins entered the market and the diesel segment added eight new models. The word is the new models are going to keep coming, which should keep the high-MPG car segment invigorated.

Photos from manufacturers

Posted Dec. 14, 2013 (compiled with Hybridcars.com & Automotive News information as reported by manufacturers)

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Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars in May 2013

 

toyota,prius,mpg

2013 Prius – King of the MPG Hill

The automotive year 2013 appears to be hitting its stride, setting sales marks that will mark it as a good year, one that showed the resilience of the industry and the market. A footnote to the year will be sales of high MPG cars as the industry climbs back to pre-recession sales numbers in the U.S. The models that consumers turn to for good fuel economy are hybrids, diesels and plug-in vehicles of two types (pure electrics and plug-in hybrids). Except for diesels, which appear to be in a lull awaiting some new models, the hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electrics are outpacing a strong overall market.

A couple models are becoming established as the leaders in their categories while the overall mix of the top 10 best sellers has shifted month-to-month. The bottom line is that consumers have a great variety of powertrains, vehicle configurations and fuel choices and they are making those choices. Other than the basic Prius model, which has been on the market for more than a dozen years and retains its well-deserved image as the poster child of high-MPG, the variety of vehicles that end up on the best seller list as impressive as their fuel economy numbers.

The snapshot of May’s sales finds what are now becoming the usual suspects continuing to dominate the market (though the order shifts month-to-month). The same ten vehicles that are the best-sellers this month are also the best sellers for the first five months of the year.

The big sales news for high-MPG cars is that the segments appear to be gaining momentum. Toyota, the hybrid leader, has made it clear they expect sales of their high-mileage models to increase for the year even though they got off to a slow start.  With new models being introduced from Audi and Chevrolet and more coming from Jeep, Ram and Mazda, diesel will certainly pick up its numbers. Plug-in cars continue to tear it up in the marketplace, posting triple digit increases compared to last year.

Next month we’ll be able to look back over a half-year’s sales and confirm what we’re already seeing –the available models for high-MPG cars are increasing and have taken hold among consumers. Check out the tally at this point: Consumers can choose among about 40 hybrid models, 15 diesels and a dozen plug-ins. As sales continue to move up, it’s clear that buyers are not intimidated by the variety of choice.    Compared to this month last year, hybrid sales are up 14 percent (and 16 percent for the first five months of the year; diesels are up 11 percent for the month but down 5 percent for the year so far; and the stars, plug-ins, are up 8.6 percent for the month but a whopping 125 percent for the year (albeit against a start-up year where they posted small numbers).

Details on sales for the month of May follow. Parenthetically, we have noted the sales order of the models looking at the first five month of the year.

1. Toyota Prius – 15,330 – (1. for the first five months of the year) Prius sales went up this month even though there are no serious challengers in the high-MPG world. Prius now has its sights on establishing itself among the conventional models.

2. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 4,265 – (2) The Camry’s hybrid version saw sales pick up compared to a year ago, helping to keep Toyota in a dominant position in hybrid sales.

3. Toyota Prius c – 3,782 – (4) The “baby” Prius continues to attract entry-level hybrid seekers. This smallest, least expensive hybrid in the Toyota lineup had a great month.

4. Volkswagen Jetta TDI – 3,752 – (5) The clean diesel standard-bearer had a good month, landing as it has consistently during the year in the top 5 high-MPG models.

5. Toyota Prius V – 3,732 – (6) The Prius “wagon” has a good month as Toyota took the top four spots in this survey.

6. Ford Fusion Hybrid – 3,335 – (3) The flagship of fuel economy at Ford is mounting a challenge to the segment leading Camry and even though it had a down month, leads the two Prius models that finished above it this month.

7. Ford C-Max Hybrid – 3,261 – (7) Ford’s hybrid “wagon,” along with the Prius V, demonstrates that there is a clear demand for more versatility along with good fuel economy.

8. Volkswagen Passat TDI – 2,797 – (8) The Jetta’s “big brother” continues to hold a solid second place spot in the clean diesel market, giving VW the domination in the diesel market similar to Toyota’s with hybrids.

9. Nissan Leaf – 2,138 – (10) The top-selling pure electric continues to have a good year with lower prices spurring more sales.

10. Tesla Model S – 2,000 – (9) Tesla’s pure electric has estimated sales numbers, but overall has been a strong seller this year as production appears to be moving along at a solid pace and the cars are becoming a more common sight in Silicon Valley.

Bubbling below the Top 10 are several models that help boost hybrid sales. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Lexus ES Hybrid, Chevy Malibu Hybrid and Lexus CT 200h Hybrid don’t rack up big numbers, but they add to the strength of the segment. The Chevy Volt has had up and down sales months but also appears to be heading to a solid sales year.

Posted June 27, 2013 (compiled with Hybridcars.com & Automotive News information as reported by manufacturers)

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