Hybrid sales crash 45% in April, but up against March


The tumble in sales from 2008 levels continues, but things have begun to look up for 2009

The tumble in sales from 2008 levels continues, but things have begun to look up for 2009

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It's no secret that hybrid and small car sales have been among the hardest hit in the ongoing market downturn. They've fallen at rates well beyond the total market's decline and continue to do so, dropping 45.5% in April against the same time a year ago.

But total hybrid sales are up 1.4% against March 2009 according to Edmunds, and are at their highest level since October 2008. That could hint at a turnaround in the market, though there are other potential factors to consider, including new model arrivals and heavy incentives.

The parade of bad news continues at Toyota, down 62.8% in hybrid sales compared to April 2008, with the Prius down 61.5% and the Camry Hybrid down 67.1%. The Prius's drop can be explained in part by the impending release of the new 2010 Prius, with buyers holding off on new purchases to get the latest vehicle. The Camry Hybrid, on the other hand, dropped more than twice as fast as the standard Camry.

Despite these dismal sales levels, the Prius remained the top hybrid seller in the U.S., followed by the deeply discounted 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid and the Camry Hybrid in third. The car to watch in the coming months will be the new 2010 Honda Insight, which saw sales triple in April to 2,096 units, and it's only been on the market since March. The Insight slotted into fourth place in U.S. hybrid totals.

Luxury hybrids aren't doing much better than their economy-focused counterparts. The RX400h is down 59.7% while the conventional RX actually rose 1% in sales for April. Lexus's other hybrids were all down heavily as well, though their standard-engine counterparts were too.

The past 12 months have seen an incredible roller coaster ride for hybrid sales, going from their best month ever to their worst and everywhere in between.

 
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