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Hybrid automotive sales continue to increase

The LA Times reports that hybrid vehicle sales are booming. According to the publication, sales for hybrid vehicles were up 32% in January and February of 2013 compared to the same months of last year. At the same time, overall market share for hybrids in the automotive industry has reached 4% and some predict that percentage of the market could double by the end of the decade.

The most common type of hybrids are those such as the Toyota Prius that use battery power in lieu of the gasoline engine (or in conjunction) in certain circumstances to increase fuel economy. There are also plug-in hybrid vehicles out there that are able to run on electric power alone for an extended period of time (35 miles in the case of the Chevrolet Volt). There's also a third classification of hybrid vehicles that use technology not primarily intended to improve fuel economy, but to improve performance.

The Ferrari LaFerrari falls into the latter category. In this particular application, the hybrid system is more like the KERS system used in Formula One racing than the system in the Prius. The LaFerrari uses its hybrid system to increase low RPM performance so engineers could tune the V12 to scream in the higher RPM band.

Ferrari LaFerrari

Despite increasing popularity, hybrids are still expected to account for only a small portion of automotive sales for years to come. One of the biggest fears for buyers is that expensive battery packs will need to be replaced at some point. However, Toyota notes that 90% of the Prius automobiles it has sold since the car launched in 2000 are still on the road today.
And a test conducted by Consumer Reports in 2011 showed that Prius battery packs still pack a punch after even a decade of use. The publication tested a nearly 10-year-old Prius with 206,000 miles on the odometer against the results they gleaned from a brand new Prius (when it first tested the vehicle in 2001). Tests showed that the Prius when new scored overall fuel economy of 40.6 mpg; the Prius with 206k on the odo was a few ticks behind at 40.4 mpg.

Source: LA Times

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Numbers don't match up
By Solandri on 4/2/2013 3:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
According to the WSJ, the Prius only showed a 4.5% year-yo-year increase during Jan/Feb. Backing out the LA Times numbers for the Prius, it was at about 75% share of 61,046 in Jan/Feb 2012, or 45785. In Jan/Feb 2013 it was 62.6% share of 80,240 or 50230. Or a 9.7% increase from 2012 to 2013.

Even if you go with the 9.7% increase figure, that's less than light trucks (10.8%), cross-overs (15.2%), and barely more than SUVs (9.0%) according to the WSJ. So it's basically mid-MPG sedan buyers who are fleeing into hybrids and trucks. Given the way average fuel economy works (2/avg = 1/mpg1 + 1/mpg2 so the lower MPG gets weighted more heavily), I suspect this means the average fleet mileage has actually gone down, not up as the LA Times article implies.

The LA Times got its data from AutoData. The WSJ from MotorIntelligence. Both are behind paywalls so I can't look at the raw data, though the WSJ offers a much more comprehensive data set (but unfortunately not categorized by hybrid).

Incidentally, the graphic in the LA Times article says Jan/Feb hybrid sales were 61,046 in 2012 vs. 80,240 in 2013. That's a 31.4% increase, not 32%. So the LA Times is rounding up.

RE: Numbers don't match up
By likewhat on 4/3/2013 12:15:59 PM , Rating: 2
Your first two paragraphs are comparing a model (Prius) with segments. The article is discussing the percentage of vehicles with a hybrid drivetrain, which is a feature that is cross-segment. As the return on investment on hybrid vehicles continues to get shorter, more vehicles across segments will be hybrid, including trucks and SUVs.
The changing market share of sedans to trucks is not mutually exclusive to the change in market share from non-hybrids to hybrid.

Incidentally, the graphic in the LA Times article says Jan/Feb hybrid sales were 61,046 in 2012 vs. 80,240 in 2013. That's a 31.4% increase, not 32%. So the LA Times is rounding up.

February was longer last year. Adjusted for that, sales are up ~33.67%. So, I don't think rounding up to 32% is disingenuous.

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