The year 2013 is half over and the auto industry is doing quite well, led by high mileage vehicles that are outperforming the overall industry in sales growth. As more and more pure electrics, plug-in cars, hybrids and clean diesels appear on the U.S. market, consumers are embracing them. And the backdrop is an auto industry with sales climbing back toward its pre-recession numbers, a return built on sales of profitable full-size pickups and the traditionally solid-selling mid-size car models.
One item of note at the mid-year mark is that the slice of the market held by hybrids, plug-ins and diesels is nearing five percent of the overall market. Of course, high-mpg cars and trucks running conventional gasoline engines are also proliferating. Continuing high gas and diesel prices as well as the broader acceptance of these “alternative” vehicles point toward an ever-growing presence for what not too long ago were vehicles on the fringe of the market.
We at Clean Fleet Report have been tracking the Top 10 best sellers month-to-month and note that all through the last six months the same 15 models have been jockeying for the Top 10 spots, with several separated by no more than a few dozen cars. It also appears that a couple models are becoming established as the leaders in their categories and overall sales continue to be dominated by two or three models–the usual suspects being the Toyota Prius Liftback among hybrids and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI among diesels. The only semblance of a sales “race” is in the plug-in category – the only competitive one of three –and the fastest growing category. There the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, both pure electrics, are locked in a sales battle with the Chevy Volt. The winners, of course, are all of the car buyers enjoying these new technologies.
Details on sales for the first six months of the year as well as the month of June (parenthetically) follow. Because the numbers are so close, we’ve expanded the list to the Top 12. It’s shaping up to be a record year for these high mpg cars.
1. Toyota Prius – 76,809 – (14,066) The Prius is unchallenged as the leader among all of the alternatives. Even with sales dropping slightly from the previous year, it captures almost a third of all hybrid sales and is charting among the top 10 selling cars in the overall market.
2. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 23,834 – (3,878) The Camry’s hybrid version is a solid second best among hybrids, challenged only slightly by the “baby” Prius.
3. Toyota Prius c – 20,575 – (3,442) The “baby” Prius continues to attract entry-level hybrid seekers. 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.
4. Volkswagen Jetta TDI – 20,454 – (3,940) The clean diesel standard-bearer finished strong with a great month in June where it was second only to the Prius Liftback in sales. It accounts for fully one-third of diesel sales at this point.
5. Ford Fusion Hybrid – 20,283 – (3,057) The flagship of 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 plug-in versions of the Fusion and C-Max, an all-electric Focus and its conventional EcoBoost engines.
6. Toyota Prius V – 18,616 – (2,987) The Prius “wagon” has had a good first half of the year, helping Toyota to take four of the top six spots in this survey.
7. Ford C-Max Hybrid – 17,858 – (2,889) Ford’s hybrid “wagon,” along with the Prius V, demonstrates that there is a clear demand for more versatility along with good fuel economy. It’s the top-selling new model in this survey.
8. Volkswagen Passat TDI – 16,655 – (3,405) The Jetta’s “big brother” had a great June, which helped to make up for a slow first half of the year. But the model 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. Tesla Model S – 10,650 – (1,800) Tesla’s pure electric has estimated sales numbers (they release the official ones when they report their quarterly earnings), but production has been steadily increasing during the year as the company fills its orders for its expensive, but exquisite sedan. If the production continues to increase, it could potentially move up this survey and challenge some of the best-selling hybrids and diesels.
10. Chevrolet Volt – 9,855 – (2,698) The Volt had a strong June that boosted it into the top 10 for the first half of the year. While sales are below the optimistic forecasts of a couple years ago, the car has established itself as the leader among plug-in hybrids.
11. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – 9,851 – (2,129) Although Hyundai’s hybrid models doesn’t get as much attention in the media as the Toyota or Ford hybrid models, its sales (and those of the sister model, Kia Optima Hybrid)
12. Nissan Leaf – 9,839 – (2,225) A strong June with some intensive marketing and a good supply of models in the showroom left the Leaf in a virtual tie with the Volt among plug-ins with only 16 sales separating the two models.
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 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 32,000 additional hybrid sales.
Something to keep an eye on are new models just coming into the market that might make an impact in the second half of the year. The new hybrids include the VW Jetta Hybrid and BMW ActiveHybrid 3 – new hybrid models for the best-selling cars for those two brands. In the diesel world the big news is the Chevy Cruze Diesel, which went on sale in June, while a Ram 1500 Diesel pickup and Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Diesel will be out later in the year. Plug-ins will welcome the Chevy Spark EV among a lineup that is almost all models that have been on the market less than a year.
Posted July 28, 2013 (compiled with Hybridcars.com & Automotive News information as reported by manufacturers)
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