Hybrid Sales Slip Slightly but Still Outperform Overall Market
Now that the industry’s September sales numbers are mostly sorted out, the results show surprisingly strong demand for electric vehicles and diesel-powered entries, sales of which were up 40.6 percent and 13.3 percent, according to the HybridCars.com Dashboard (the source for all numbers here). Those with a nose for numbers may recall that the industry as a whole lost ground last month; with two fewer selling days in September 2013 as compared to September 2012, overall industry volume was down about 3.9 percent on a year-over-year basis. And while hybrid sales did drift lower in September, it was by about 3.6 percent, a slightly better rate than for the U.S. auto marketplace as a whole.
Also, when it comes to those EVs, it’s quite possible that the numbers are even better than they first look. That’s because Tesla doesn’t report its sales results the way other automakers do, so it’s hard to get a handle on its monthly performance. Thus, HybridCars.com estimates about 1,100 Tesla Model S sales were recorded in the U.S. in September, with the car scoring about 4,400 sales for the third quarter. However, an analyst at the investment site Seeking Alpha recently crunched some numbers and believes the company sold north of 6,300 units during that time.
We’ll find out for sure when Tesla releases its third-quarter financial results next month, but thatchange would have a big impact on the EV sales leaderboard. After all, even while amping up sales by almost 41 percent last month, the EV segment delivered just 8,127 units in total, with the top 10 finishers as follows:
With Audi making a strong push to support its new wave of TDI models, it’s no surprise to learn diesel sales reached 12,504 units in this country last month, marking a robust gain of 13.3 percent. But September surprises actually came from two different brands: BMW and Chevrolet.
For the former, the diesel-powered 2014 BMW X5 (i.e., the BMW xDrive35d) enjoyed an 11.9 percent sales spike, on 939 units, and climbed from seventh to third place on the diesel top-10 list. Moving up the same number of spots was the 2014 Chevy Cruze Turbo Diesel. The Bowtie Brand’s entry went from ninth to fifth, thanks to 479 sales in its initial September at dealerships. Again, the absolute numbers here are fairly small, but seeing an uptick in diesel demand for makers other than VW/Audi is a good sign for the segment.
On the other hand, Volkswagen does continue to dominate in terms of diesel volume, as shown by the diesel segment’s top-10 sales leaderboard for September:
Perhaps it’s a sign that consumers have fully embraced hybrids as part of the mainstream: Hybrid sales essentially followed those of the marketplace as a whole in September, when deliveries in the segment slipped to 33,576 units, reflecting a 3.6 percent falloff from the same month last year.
In a shocking turn of events, Toyota actually bore the brunt of the decline. The automaker held onto the top four spots on the sales list—with the Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius c, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and Toyota Prius v, in that order—but all four were hit by drops in volume. In fact, of the 11 Toyota/Lexus hybrids that earned sales in the previous month, nine were in the red, while the remaining pair included a vehicle in its first September (the Toyota Avalon Hybrid) and another that delivered just three units (the Lexus LS600h).
On the other hand, both of the Blue Oval’s top hybrids, the Ford Fusion and Ford C-MAX, continue to see high demand, as do the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima Hybrids, and they helped fill out the segment’s top-10 sales rankings as indicated below: