By on October 13, 2012

After a trip to Russia last Wednesday and a thorough look at Japan on Monday, here I am again, annoying you with ever more worldwide car sale figures. This time let’s get back to basics and look at the best-selling hybrid/electric cars in the USA, a category up 75 percent year-on-year…

Can’t get your head around why you would buy cars that  run on batteries? That’s ok, you can discover the best-selling models in 168 countries and territories in my blog and you’ll see most of them still are good old gas-guzzlers. Or today I can also offer you the Top 277 best-selling models in the USA over the first 9 months 2012

Sales of Hybrid and Electric cars in the USA are up 75 percent year-on-year in September to 39,974 registrations, which brings the year-to-date total to 351,703 units, up 73 percent on 2011 and now reaching a 3.2 percent share of the total market. In other words, if all Hybrid and Electric car sales were one model it would rank #2 behind only the Ford F-Series…

Toyota/Lexus holds a huge 67 percent market share in this segment…

The Toyota Prius Hybrid leads the way by far with 13,914 sales, followed by the Toyota Camry hybrid up a huge 1517 percent year-on-year to 3,704 units, the Toyota Prius C at 3,366 sales and the Chevrolet Volt up 294 percent on September 2011 to 2,851 units.

The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is up to #7 with 1,656 sales or a 15 percent Hybrid ratio (vs. 7 percent year-to-date), ahead of the Toyota Prius Plug-in up to 1,652 units.

Top 10 best-selling Hybrid/Electric cars in the USA in September 2012:

You can check out the entire Top 43 best-sellers here

Pos Model Sep-12 HR /11 9m 2012 Pos 2011
1 Toyota Prius 13,914 100% 49% 149,510 1 1
2 Toyota Camry Hybrid 3,704 11% 1517% 34,291 2 10
3 Toyota Prius c 3,366 100% new 26,110 3  -
4 Chevrolet Volt 2,851 100% 294% 16,348 4 12
5 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid 1,656 15% new 12,976 7 33
6 Toyota Prius Plug-in 1,652 100% new 7,720 12  -
7 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 1,560 9% -22% 15,781 5 2
8 Lexus ES300h 1,414 22% new 2,231 19  -
9 Lexus CT200h 1,195 100% -17% 13,612 6 5
10 Nissan LEAF 984 100% -5% 5,212 14 9

HR= Hybrid/Electric Ratio. Sales of the hybrid/electric version vs. overall sales of the model.

/11: Sales variation compared to September 2011. Pos: 2012 year-to-date ranking after 9 months. 2011: Full Year 2011 ranking.

1 in 4 Lexus ES sold in the US this month are a hybrid

The Lexus ES300h delivers the performance of the month: it lodges 1,414 sales or 63 percent of its 2012 total, making it nearly one in four ES sold this month in the country (22 percent Hybrid ratio vs. 6 percent year-to-date!). The Lexus CT200h is down to #9 while the Nissan Leaf seems to have slowed down its decline at just -5 percent year-on-year and up 4 spots on its year-to-date ranking to #10.

Nearly 1 in 3 Lincoln MKZ sold in the US this month is a hybrid

The Lincoln MKZ delivers the highest Hybrid ratio of all traditional models: 30 percent thanks to 781 units sold at #15.

The Buick Regal eAssist follows at 25 percent Hybrid ratio and #17 while the Lexus GS450h is up 294 percent to #22 and the Porsche Panamera reaches an exceptional 14 percent Hybrid ratio.

There are no less than 3 newcomers in the ranking this month: the Toyota RAV4 EV lands #26 with 61 sales, the Audi Q5 Hybrid is #31 at 25 units and the BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid is #37 with 13 sales.

You can check out the August 2012 Hybrid/Electric cars Top 40 ranking here

You can check out the general US September 2012 Top 265 ranking here

You can check out the general US 9 months 2012 Top 277 ranking here

Full September 2012 Top 43 Ranking Table below.

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36 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: What Hybrids And Electric Cars Are Selling In The U.S....”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    Of the pure EVs, looks like my Leaf is the ‘Prius’ of them all in sales, but still miniscule in general.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      That’s not saying a whole lot when the only direct competitors are the i-MiEV, Focus Electric, and RAV4 EV, all of which have a serious issue (to me, anyway) with lengthy recharge times. Even with the additional (pricey) purchase of a 240v charger, the time to recharge still seems excessive on any pure EV.

      Still, I’m glad there’s an apparent market for them, even if they’re not exactly ready for prime-time and sales are but a mere blip. That’s the way the Prius began over a decade ago but now it’s the fourth best selling Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      As far as “pure EV’ goes… I’ll be making a video of the Tesla Model S this thursday. Tesla was weary of camcorders because of their current legal problems. I’ll be driving a performance model this time and I’ll be sure to cover the important details I haven’t heard in other reviews. I really like the car. I’d almost buy one. There is a government rebate for $7500 right now.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Anecdotes are not data. But I’m always surprised to hear that the Volt is outselling the Leaf. I see a lot of Leaves around here in Sacramento and very few Volts. It would be interesting to see a regional breakdown. Perhaps the Volt sales are evenly spread and the Leaf sales are all in CA.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’ve seen several Volts (there are at least two just in my work parking lot), but Leaves are hard to come by.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Leaf stands out more in traffic. It has a funny nose and a Renault Megane-esque awkwardness to its profile. The Volt fades into a sea of Priuses. I suspect they’re in San Diego in similar numbers, but I definitely notice Leaves more.

      • 0 avatar
        Darth Lefty

        It’s not that. Volts have a very aggro look compared to a Prius, and a Leaf just looks like a Versa while we’re at it. I think I see more Leafs than 370Z cars. I’m going to keep thinking it’s local to east Sacramento – maybe because of charging support from local businesses like Intel.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I see two reasons for the Volt outselling the Leaf:

      1. The Volt has no range anxiety. I’m still learning to manage this while driving my Leaf. But I really like managing only one fuel instead of two.

      2. Chevy is being very aggressive with leasing terms, and earlier than Nissan. After rebates and discounts, my Leaf was priced like an Elantra, but it’s cheaper to run. I would never have paid full fare to get it, and I suspect nobody is paying full price on a Volt, either.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Does Toyota split the Prius-V out from the regular Prius like they do the Prius C? I was utterly shocked at the deal my Mom got on one. She was initially interested in a C, they did not offer any discounts on that. She did not look at the regular Prius, so no idea what pricing was like on that car.

    Anecdotally, I see tons of regular Prius around (only makes sense, current model has been out for ages), and a surprising number of C, but have yet to see another V other than hers… Too station wagon like for most buyers maybe? C and V were released at the same time, right?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Prius V is a popular taxicab here, thanks to the taxpayers subsidizing hybrid cab purchases.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        if my Prius is any ondocation, itll be reliable and cheap to operate for a couple of hundred thousand miles. The Prius V, with its above average rear legroom, strikes me as an ideal taxi all around, even wothout subsidies. (The federal.subsidies have been removed from the Prius, so i assume youre referring to a local subsidy in your neck of the woods?)

        (The C-Max has good rear legroom for a family car, the Prius V is exceptional in thia respect. For my family transportation and commuting needs, I like the C-Max better, but I’d choose the V for taxi duty.)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.examiner.com/article/green-taxi-and-travel-plans-move-ahead-at-airport

        It is a local initiative in San Diego that ‘uses’ FAA money. Your excessive airline ticket fees are being used to steer our cab companies into Priuses. It’s funny how a couple million here and there add up when you use them for such ridiculous programs. The ‘black cloud’ over the taxi line mentioned in the propaganda I linked to didn’t exist, as I know from nearly a decade of using the airport prior to the first Prius cab showing up. I thought the Prius V taxis were great until I found out that the cab companies have them because of bureaucratic idiots rather than because of informed decisions made by fleet operators.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I was very impressed with the Prius V at the local auto show this year. It has an exceptionally roomy and comfortable cabin, with great fuel economy. But I don’t see many on the road yet here in western PA.

    • 0 avatar
      sfay3

      May I also assume that CJ is annoyed by the fact that all of our roads and the airports themselves are also subsidized by the taxpayer?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Subsidizing a cab purchase for a private business and building roads are exactly the same thing. Good thinking.

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        I don’t fly, yet I pay taxes that go to subsidize the airports. Should I be upset about this? We can play this game all day but what it boils down to is that you don’t like subsidizing some things but don’t mind the subsidies that go to the stuff you want or need.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Stunned the Ford Fusion or Ford Escape hybrids aren’t even a blip in the top ten.

    When you look at the list of 277, and see the Volt ranked at 136, a bit surprising to see some of the vehicles it is outselling. If I was asked which sold more Volts or the Audi A6, I would have said A6. Volume of the Volt YTD is statistically close to the Scion tC. That kinds of put things in perspective.

    As others have brought up, I would love to see a fleet sales break down of the Prius, Prius-V and Camry hybrid. I see them by the truckload all over North America in taxi and government duty. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if fleet sales was well over 20%.

    I’d also like to see how many Volts are going to fleet; the last numbers were surprising low but I haven’t seen updated figures in months.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Escape Hybrid is no more. The Fusion was in a model change over and there were probably very few Fusion Hybrids left. I haven’t seen a 2013 Fusion Hybrid on the road yet. The CMax Hybrid should also show on the list for October. I ordered one and picked it up this week.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    I live in New York and I’ve seen only 2 Volt’s since they came out. Maybe one Leaf. I don’t see many ES Hybrids either, but I probably just don’t notice any because of how terribly boring they are. Too few MKZ’s too, Hyrbid or not…which is a shame, I think they’re probably nice cars. Virtually no one in their right mind would buy a Panamera, let alone a hybrid variant. Same goes for the Audi.

    I’m amazed that the CT200h is even still on the market, let alone in the top 10. What a terrible waste of $40k.

    I’m surprised the Fusion and Escape aren’t on that top 10, but sales in general this past month have not been kind to American companies. It seems the freshly re-designed Camry is on the prowl all over again.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The CT200h is for people who want good mileage in a hatch, but don’t feel like battling the VW dealer every month to get their TDI fixed.

      • 0 avatar
        RatherhaveaBuick

        I suppose. It seems more like an image thing to me. Something for young girls in L.A. “Oh I drive a HYBRID Lexus” instead of owning a Prius like most tree huggers would have.

        I don’t like modern VW’s either, but I’d rather drive a little TDI Golf. About $15k cheaper too…

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        I saw an A3 TDI at an auto show at $40k without a ton of options, and I’m sure it’s fairly easy to push a Golf into the $30s without trying too hard. The one CT200h I’ve seen is driven by a middle-aged woman who sells real estate.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @bumpy ii: “The CT200h is for people who want good mileage in a hatch, but don’t feel like battling the VW dealer every month to get their TDI fixed.”

        The Prius is better than the CT200h in this respect. The Prius costs less than the CT200h and gets better gas mileage, too.

        As a very satisfied Prius owner, the only reason that I can think of to own a CT200h is the Lexus badge. If style and prestige are worth 8-10MPG and $5k to you, then who am I to judge… :-)

        P.S. I’ve owned a TDI and a Prius. Your characterization of the TDI is spot-on, and we eventually dumped the TDI and kept the Prius. The TDI was fun to dive, the Prius is fun to own. I just thought you were remiss in not mentioning mentioning the Prius, since it’s the car to beat in this space.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    i ezpect that this list will be different next year. I’m a card-carrying Prius entheusiast, but i was really impressed woth the C-Max. Its numbers are close enough to be strongly competitive, especially considering that its a bigger car. also, the styling is a little more conventional and its from an American nameplate, which might appeal to people who don’t like the Prius for those reasons. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the C-Max as the #2 or #1 selling hybrid a year from now.

    One of those sales might be a plugin C-Max sold to me. If I can kick down some of my credit cards, and if a few details in the owners manual work out right, anyway. The 20-mile plugin range is shorter than the Volt, but it’s long enough to get me through the week without using gasonline and it’s about $5k cheaper and in a more family-friendly package. The C-Max hybrid is as good as my Prius, but the C-Max plugin is better than either the Prius or the Volt for my needs, tastes, and budget. And I’ll finally get to buy American for real, because Ford made a better car – I’ve only been waiting 17 years for that to be a possibility!

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I initially thought the same thing about the C-Max but am a little uncertain now. While the C-Max (both versions) looks good on paper and in reviews, there are reports that the electrical architecture (which it shares with the Focus and Escape) has some gremlins. While relatively minor, I’ve experienced them firsthand on a 2013 Escape I had briefly and it doesn’t exactly bode well for longevity, particularly on tech-heavy vehicles (like the C-Max).

      And there are other things. For instance, the ‘perimeter lighting’ which always comes on when the doors are unlocked can no longer be disabled. The power windows are noticably slow to raise. The ‘sunroof’ on the C-Max is nothing but a really expensive, fixed glass roof. Along with the electrical glitches, it seems like Ford cut some corners on their current new models, and that’s not a good thing.

      It’s a shame because, compared with the standard Prius, the C-Max does seem like the better vehicle of the two.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “if all Hybrid and Electric car sales were one model it would rank #2 behind only the Ford F-Series…”

    This makes me want to dig up the old Bob Lutz remark about how the Prius was a flash in the pan and would never amount to anything.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      And his dismissive attitude is exactly why GM went bankrupt. They never took Toyota and Honda seriously, until it was too late.

      I’m excited to see the number and variety of hybrids out now. I just wish their prices were lower!

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @redmondjp: I was quite surprised by the unadvertised deal Nissan offered me on my Leaf. That, plus learning about a PA rebate sealed the deal for me. However, this pure EV may be an exception to the normal available deal.

  • avatar

    Volt I guess is the most attractive of them. First it does not consume gas, second there is no range anxiety, third I heard about attractive $300 per month lease. If it is true then you are driving it for free – savings from saved gas alone will pay lease. And most important it is based on Opel Astra platform which far more superior than Corolla or whatever Nissan can come up with.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The Volt ‘will’ consume gas, but only after the battery is depleted. If you can keep from using up all of the 38 mile electric range, then the gasoline powered ‘generator’ will never be needed. It’s theoretically one of the reasons GM recommends premium gas – it has a slightly longer shelf life than lower grades of gas and it may sit in the Volt’s tank for some time.

      That’s probably why the Volt is on top of the ‘pure’ electrics. With the Volt, there’s no range anxiety (even if the fuel mileage on gas is a rather low 36 mpg).

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My Leaf certainly doesn’t consume gas, but there is some range anxiety. My 3-year lease is $340/month, and after that I’m saving $100/month vs. the gasoline I used to put into my 05 xB, which got about 28 mpg in town.

      As for looks, the Volt is attractive. The Leaf has a funny look that is dictated by aerodynamic noise suppression. But the Leaf seems to be a very solidly-built vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem with Leaf is as Autoextremist’s Peter called it it is “refregirator on the wheels”, which means it is dull regarding driving dynamics like kitchen appliance (most Asian cars suffer from it though).

        Certainly Leaf was a first affordable pure electric car on the market which gave it initially an edge. But moving forward there are much better choices, like Ford Focus. Ford Focus is terrific vehicle and I can hardly believe if any electric car can be competitive with it (of course in price range). It has solid bones that no Asian car can compete with (may be Mazda, but it is based on the same platform).

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        While it’s probably true that the Focus Electric is a better EV than the Leaf, one area where the Leaf bests the FE (and probably the MiEV and RAV4 EV, too) is price. There are currently some terrific deals on the Leaf in certain states. I think gslippy said in a previous post he was able to get his Leaf in PA for under $20k after tax credits. That’s nothing to sneeze at and, for that price, makes the Leaf a legitimate contender for a second commuter car that better fits an EV’s limitations. For under $20k, the Leaf will start being cross-shopped against, say, the popular Prius c.

        The same is true of upwardly trending Volt sales. With incentives and tax credits, the Volt’s price is now not that far from the standard Prius.

        Plus, the FE is not even available nationwide yet.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    I’m glad to see the day get here when electric cars or hybrids get so much attention. A guy did one homemade with an opel GT in the late seventies (crude but it worked) so it was a matter of time. I don’t think the problem is so much about the readiness of the industry but about the readiness to buy on the part of the public. The volt probably had the ideal setup but I think the prudent owner would run the engine from time to time to keep things in working order. That and stabil or some other gas life extender should keep things going for years.

    You have to wonder if one of those million dollar contests would have been as effective as massive government aid. The profit motive, if the government would stay out of the mix, might work better than subsidies.


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