Who’s Winning the Race in Electric Car Sales? (TM, F, GM, HMC, TSLA)

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U.S. sales of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are running nearly 68% higher in the first 10 months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. Total vehicle sales are up 13.8% according to the latest data from hybridcars.com.

The top seller remains Toyoto Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), with Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC), and Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) all showing year-over-year growth.

Hybrid electric vehicles garnered 3.06% of new car sales in October 2012, compared with 1.97% in October of 2011. A total of 33,290 hybrids were sold this October compared with 20,056 a year ago. For the current year to date, a total of 355,806 hybrids have been sold, up 67.8% from the October 2011 total of 211,596. All new car sales year-to-date total 11,949,690.

Toyota, with three Prius models and one Camry hybrid, sold 24,065 HEVs in October 2012, compared with 14,185 in October 2011. Last year, Toyota only had a single Prius model available in October 2011. Toyota also sold 3,787 of its various Lexus model hybrids this October, compared with 2,596 Lexus models last year.

Ford sold 3,038 of its brand new C-Max hybrid in October this year, 956 of its Fusion hybrids, 9 Escape hybrids, 465 Lincoln MK-Z hybrids, and 262 plug-ins for a total of 4,730 vehicles sold. Last year the company sold just 1,430 hybrids of the smaller hybrids. Ford sold 477 Lincoln MK-Z’s a year ago.

General Motors sold 1,266 of its Chevy Malibu hybrid this October and 1,265 Buick LaCrosse and Regal hybrids plus a few hundred hybrid SUVs. GM sold 297 LaCrosse hybrids a year ago and about a hundred SUVs.

Honda sold 453 of its hybrid Civic, 251 of its Insight hybrid, and 244 of its CR-Z model for a total of 948 vehicles sold. Honda’s sales actually fell from a total of 1,261 vehicles sold a year ago.

Among plug-in electric models, the Chevy Volt sold 2,961 vehicles in October, compared with 1,108 in October last year, up 167% over a year ago.

Toyota sold 1,889 of its plug-in hybrids this year, compared with none last year.

The Nissan Leaf sold 1,579 vehicles this year, compared with 849 vehicles last October.

Tesla announced this morning that it had sold 253 of its sedans and 68 of its roadsters in the third quarter, but did not break down sales by month. hybridcars.com estimates that Tesla sold 250 sedans in October, and did not post any sales for Tesla a year ago.

Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Hyundai/Kia, and BMW all currently sell hybrids and Mitsubishi sells a plug-in, but all told these makers account for just over 6,100 (15.6%)of the nearly 39,100 HEVs and plug-ins sold during October.

Total sales for all of the makers’ electric models, hybrids and plug-ins, year-to-date compared with 2011:

  • Toyota – YTD sales of 270,837, up nearly 99% from sales of 136,226 in 2011
  • GM – YTD sales of 48,156, up more than 500% from sales of 7,904
  • Ford – YTD sales of 20,321, down 9% from sales of 22,113
  • Honda – YTD sales of 15,165, down 83% from sales of 27,714

GM’s sales have popped the most over the past 12 months, with the Chevy Malibu Hybrid adding more than 14,000 sales and Chevy Volt sales also higher by 14,000. Buick LaCrosse sales are up more than 10,000 year-to-date.

Ford’s sales jumped in October, as the carmaker got a full month of sales from the new C-Max hybrid, which sold more than 3,000 units. The discontinuation of the Ford Escape hybrid has cost ford more than 6,000 units so far this year. If sales of the C-Max continue, Ford’s sales will improve over the next few months.

Honda has not kept pace, losing sales on both its Insight and CR-Z models. The Honda Civic hybrid has sold 6,114 units so far this year, up from about 3,600 last year. The company’s plug-in, the Fit EV, has sold just 48 units so far this year.

Toyota has nearly doubled its sales so far in 2012, compared with the same 10 months of 2011. The company introduced two new Prius models this year, as well as its first plug-in hybrid. Camry hybrid sales have jumped more than 450% compared with the first 10 months of 2011. Toyota is still in the driver’s seat in hybrids and is competitive in plug-ins, a category the company is not too high on. It’s a good place to be.

Paul Ausick

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