Toyota No. 1 in U.S. Hybrid Sales – Honda and Ford Battle for Second Place

Although sales of Toyota’s U.S. hybrid sales fell by about 28% during the first nine months of this year, the automaker still outsells its competition by a wide margin. According to the Automotive News Data Center, American consumers purchased a total of 144,351 Toyota hybrids from January through September even though sales of its Prius hybrid model dropped by 20%.

The industry news organization also found that Ford Motor Company is closing the gap with Honda, which is currently the No. 2 seller of hybrid vehicles in the U.S.

During the first nine months of this year, Honda reportedly sold 29,958 hybrids domestically. Ford saw its hybrid sales soar to 26,016 units – a 73% year-to-year gain – during the same period. The top performers for Honda were the Insight and Civic hybrid models. Ford’s sales numbers were bolstered by brisk sales of its Fusion and Escape hybrid models.

Total hybrid sales in the U.S. declined by 15% to 220,594 through September. Most analysts attribute the decline to stabilized fuel prices that held steady at about $2.50 per gallon on average. Total U.S. auto sales through September totaled 7.8 million vehicles with hybrid sales accounting for about 3%.

In a recent press release, Ford’s hybrid marketing manager said, “More than 60% of Fusion Hybrid sales have been from non-Ford owners, and more than half of those are customers coming from import brands, mostly from Toyota and Honda.”

In July and again in September, Ford’s hybrid sales eclipsed Honda’s by 2,089 and 240 respectively. Honda, however, outsold Ford by 3,942 over the nine month period.

General Motors Corporation also posted significant gains in its hybrid sales and finished the first nine months of 2009 in fourth position behind Ford. GM’s domestic hybrid sales were up 39% year-to-year, at 12,556 with hybrid SUV and Chevy Malibu hybrid sales being credited for the gains.

Nissan Motor Company also saw a 7% year-to-year increase in U.S. hybrid sales to 7,713 and came in a distant fifth behind GM in total sales for the period.

Despite the 20% drop in U.S. sales during the nine month period, Toyota’s Prius remains the No. 1 selling gas-electric hybrid with sales of 104,794 units. Toyota’s Camry hybrid was the second best selling hybrid model with sales of 18,502 units during the January – September period.

During the nine month period, Honda reported 15,791 sales of its Insight followed by 14,166 sales of the Civic hybrid.

American consumers bought 11,468 Ford Fusion hybrids through September and, in part due to fleet sales, Ford moved 12,009 Escape hybrid models.

The Ford Escape Hybrid followed with 12,009 and the Fusion Hybrid was next with 11,468.

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