Well, it took a little longer than I expected—a whopping five months in total—but the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid appears to have broken out of the pack and become just the second hybrid in the industry to reach mainstream sales numbers. It’s an important achievement, because in the 10+ years the Toyota Prius has been on sale in this country not a single competitor had come close to its sales success, and at this stage, you had to wonder if it would ever happen.
The spring disasters in Japan didn’t help, of course, since they shut down most hybrid production just as the market for the fuel-efficient vehicles was on an upturn, and now that manufacturing is coming back up to speed, slipping fuel prices and general customer acceptance of $3.50-per-gallon gas as “cheap” have once again slowed demand—in most cases. But the Sonata Hybrid sold 4,177 units in July, which I believe is the highest monthly mark ever for a non-Prius hybrid and represents the first such vehicle to crack 3,000 monthly sales.
That’s probably a bit of a surprise to the folks at Ford, but it shouldn’t be.