Fast Company

Hybrids' Heyday

From Fast Company contributor Greg Spotts:

Last week, car makers announced May 2006 sales. Buried in the data was an intriguing development that most news reports missed: The Toyota line of "Hybrid Synergy Drive" vehicles is now one of the best selling automobile brands in the United States.

Toyota has four hybrid models with significant sales, i.e. monthly sales over 2000 units: the Prius and Camry sedans, and Highlander and RX400h SUV's. Together, these four models sold nearly 17,000 units in May, more than the total monthly sales of some very well-known brands:

May 2006 Sales, (All Models, Unless Otherwise Noted)
Toyota hybrids 16,896
Subaru 16,406
VW 16,297
Acura 16,171
Saturn 15,345
Mitsubishi 11,821
Volvo 11,610
Suzuki 10,135
Volvo 10,124
Audi 7,120
Land Rover 3,981
Porsche 3,272
Saab 3,030
Jaguar 2,374

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5 Comments

  • Sell Car

    Good information. on the hybrids
    Toyota and Nissan are building plants in the US while Ford and GM are building in Mexico and Cananda.

  • John C. Stilley

    In the 1970s, Japan started making small cars, and America's big three chose not to join in.

    In the 1980s, Japan increased fuel economy, and America's big three chose not to.

    Japan invested heavily in new hybrid technology, fielding superior models in the early 2000s, and America chose not to compete.

    The big three made conscious choices: to build huge, expensive gas guzzlers for the larger profit margins; to push flex-fuel and ignore hybrid technology; to move production facilities overseas; and not to increase fuel economy.

    The big three decided: We only want to be the best in BIG and LUXURIOUS. We are not interested in small or fuel efficient.

    They made those choices even though half of all American families make less than $30,000 per year.

    Should the big three expect loyalty from us, when they do not serve our best interest?

  • Bob Perry

    The American car companies' legacy costs - retirement obligations, union contracts - do add a premium to their cost structures. However, I completely agree with the above posts: it boils down to design and execution.

    Design and build a car that people want and they'll buy--even paying a premium. Whether it's look-and-feel, fit-and-finish, features, reliability or price, it seems that the Japanese companies have managed to claw their way to a commanding lead across the board versus Ford and GM - and others.

    One final thought Based on all I read and the conversations I have with friends, it almost feels as though people now turn to Japanese cars as a safe haven, as if buying American has become too risky...

    When will American auto execs stop getting raises? How on earth can they argue they have EARNED them?

  • roger fulton

    I don't know what further evidence Ford needs. As a dedicated Ford driver who has now switched to Toyota, I do so reluctantly. Wake up. Jesus, people, the above comment says it all.

  • David Neubert

    Interesting information. Are the sales figures for hybrids by each brand or all cars by brand?

    Either way, this sort of data is more evidence that US car companies are getting their butts kicked because of weak product not because of all the other factors that GM and Ford whine about.

    Toyota and Nissan are building plants in the US while Ford and GM are closing them. Ford and GM should spend more time thinking up great cars and less time lobbying Congress.