Toyota Celebrates 9 Million Hybrids Sold as Hybrid Sales Continue to Decline

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota celebrates 9 million hybrids sold as hybrid sales continue to decline

It’s easy to understand Toyota’s enthusiasm for selling 9 million hybrids worldwide since 1997. (Well, 9.014 million, but who’s counting?)

After all, have you sold 9.014 million hybrids? Don’t lie. You haven’t.

Toyota’s announcement comes as the world’s largest automaker accepts a challenge (from itself) to bring the total number of hybrid models sold to 15 million by 2020. It will do that by introducing more hybrid versions of its vehicles, then selling — it hopes — 1.5 million of them each year.

Toyota has already shoehorned hybrid systems into the RAV4, Highlander, Camry, and the Retiree Special (also known as the Avalon), along with several Lexus models and a slew of overseas vehicles you’ll never drive.

But there’s a problem. Despite Toyota’s lofty sales goals, consumers are falling out of love with hybrids. The automaker’s top year for global hybrid sales was 2013, with sales falling gradually ever since.

Even with a diversified Prius lineup and an all-new 2016 sedan, sales of the world’s most recognized hybrid model are on the wane.

Well, sure, you say, oil prices plunged and gas prices went along for the ride. And gas is still cheap despite a modest rebound in the cost of crude. A regional war or the simple passage of time will bring pump prices up and everyone will fall in love with hybrids again. Right?

Well, in North America, the Prius family hit its sales peak in 2012, two years before the gas crash. Sales of the namesake model (not its variants) are no different. The best sales year for the Prius was in 2007, peaking again at a lower number in 2012.

It’s probably safe to say that Toyota needs U.S. customers on board if it wants to fulfill its promise of 15 million hybrids by 2020.

Automakers have made great strides in squeezing more miles out of a gallon of gas in recent years, and they’ve offered the package to customers without the markup that typically comes with hybrids. Electric vehicles are very slowly making inroads, but the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 now make the EV seem like less of a niche vehicle, and they offer what Lee Iacocca used to call “snob appeal.”

The route Toyota’s taking on its hybrid quest will be uphill, all the way.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on May 23, 2016

    The Toyoduh Prius is one hideous vehicle. It would take several traffic accidents to improve the looks of this vehicle. Apparently Toyoduh is not satisfied being second ugliest next to those hideous things being made by Honduh - particularly that gut emptying Civic and that uglified face of the Accord or the dry heave sisters of HRV and CRV which could actually be venereal diseases on wheels.

  • Shaker Shaker on May 23, 2016

    "The Toyoduh Prius is one hideous vehicle" If gas were six bucks a gallon, I could live with its looks. Maybe if Trump is elected, used Prii will be worth a fortune after he nukes all the oil wells in the Middle East. Very unkind, very unkind. I actually like Trump, what a guy. Some of my best friends are billionaires.

  • Varezhka They cheapened out on the hardware side too, so we'll see how much they can improve with the software updates. I know they're using faster processors with some of their newer vehicles, but not sure how much faster.
  • Varezhka I mentioned yesterday that I wasn't a fan of Mazda Connect v1.0 in MX-5. Now I count Mazda Connect v2.0 in Mazda3 as among my favorites. Clean, fast, and intuitive without being a distraction to driving.I also don't mind the v7 BMW i-Drive, though BMW also seem to go back and forth between quite good and quite messy between updates. I also liked the screen position better before they incorporated touch.
  • EBFlex When you support socialism I guess it makes sense to support countries that are socialist.This is absolutely ridiculous though. The dementia-riddled, installed president won't allow drilling here and as recently as early November said "NO MORE DRILLING" ( )Why help people here and give them work when you can ship it off to Venezuela? Next, he will be advocating for giving jobs to China who are continuing to commit crimes against humanity (something the elf Fauci wishes he could do).This is insanity. We have tons of oil here. We should be drilling for it and aggressively building refining capacity to turn it into lovely, lovely gasoline and diesel.
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh In the news : Rich people join forces to stay ultra rich and EFF poor people in all countries by dividing them against each other and killing them
  • Kcflyer I'm curious if the elections in Venezuela take as long to call as the one's in the U.S. ? Too bad we don't have hundreds of years supply of petro right here in U.S. sigh.