This week, electric car maker Tesla Motors cut its revenue forecast and announced it would be selling 5 million shares of stock to raise capital. Some are beginning to question the long-term viability of the automaker and its line of green cars. Nevertheless, according to Edmunds.com, 43 new hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, diesel and fuel-cell electric vehicles will be introduced to the U.S. market by the 2015 model year.
Despite Tesla’s woes, hybrid cars, by many measures, are going strong. Through the first six months of this year, Toyota sold 117,626 of the Prius family units, just 12,080 vehicles shy of its 2011 full-year total. Edmunds.com estimates that market share of alternative fuel vehicles will rise from roughly 3% in 2012 to nearly 5% by 2015. Using sales data provided by Edmunds.com, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 best-selling hybrid cars for the first half of the year. These 10 models alone account for more than 90% of total alternative-energy vehicles sold.
The vast majority of electric and hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S. were built by Asian-owned companies. Only two, the Ford Fusion and the Chevy Volt, are manufactured by American-owned companies. The combined sales of those two models are less than 11,000 units for the first six months of 2012. Meanwhile, the Toyota Camry alone has sold nearly twice that. The Prius family has sold more than 10 times the two most popular American alternative-energy models. If the market for alternative energy vehicles does indeed pick up, American car manufacturers will be behind.
According to Edmunds.com representative Ivan Drury, the projected growth in the share of alternative energy vehicles has little to do with the increased viability of hybrid or electric cars as money-savers and more to do with there being more hybrid cars available on the market. Drury added that the increasing improvement of efficiency in combustion vehicles has hurt the viability of purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle. “Unless fuel costs get very expensive, you’re not going to see a huge leap in the sales of these types of cars.”
It appears that at current gas prices, the benefits of current models — that is, the amount drivers can save on fuel vehicles — is marginal, especially when compared to the higher sticker price they are paying for hybrid and electric vehicles. Edmunds.com estimates that at the current level of gas savings from purchasing a 2013 Ford Fusion hybrid versus a regular 2013 Fusion, it would take 6.9 years for the costs to even out.
Edmunds.com provided 24/7 Wall St. with a list of the first six months of 2012 U.S. sales for full hybrids, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Other types, including cars that are combustion-based, with only mild hybrid drivetrains, were not included. For the purposes of the Toyota Prius, which includes four separate vehicles — the Prius, the Prius V, the Prius C and the Prius Plugin — the model was only listed once. Reviews of these models were from Consumer Reports and Car and Driver. Fuel efficiency came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s site, FuelEconomy.gov. Fuel efficiency and prices refer to the 2013 model of each car, or 2012, if 2013 was not available.
These are the 10 best-selling hybrid cars.