Last month, Toyota pitched its hybrid vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show by partnering with Hasbro to make a Monopoly-inspired road course inside McCormick Center's South Hall.
The concept proved prescient as the Japanese automaker appeared to further dominate competitors such as Ford and Honda when it came to U.S. hybrid sales last month. Toyota, which appeared to benefit from both rising U.S. gas prices and what was likely pent-up demand for hybrids that were supply-constrained last year, increased February hybrid vehicle sales by a whopping 60 percent from a year earlier to 27,458 vehicles. Prius sales jumped 52 percent from February 2011 to 20,589 vehicles while the Toyota-branded non-Prius hybrid vehicle sales grew even faster, at an 81 percent clip. The company didn't break out sales figures for its other hybrid models, but with Toyota reporting an overall Camry sales increase of 22 percent, the newly redesigned Camry Hybrid was likely a major factor.
Additionally, Toyota's Lexus division doubled February sales from a year earlier to 2,645 vehicles, with the newer Lexus CT 200h most likely making an impact on those numbers.
Toyota's competitors weren't so fortunate, however, as Ford and Honda buyers appeared to opt for fuel-efficient conventionally powered vehicles over hybrids in an effort to save gas and money. Ford's February hybrid sales dropped 24 percent from a year earlier to, 1,963 units, with the small increase in Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sales more than offset by a 20-percent drop in Ford Fusion Hybrid sales and a 45-percent decline in Ford Escape Hybrid sales. Such results contrasted with Ford's overall performance last month, as vehicle sales rose 14 percent from a year earlier. Ford, which more than doubled unit sales of its fuel-efficient Focus, is hoping for a boost in its alt-fuel demand from the soon-to-debut Ford Focus Electric. That vehicle was just given an EPA rating of 105 miles per gallon equivalent, making it officially more efficient than both the Nissan Leaf battery-electric and the upcoming Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.
Toyota's competitors weren't so fortunate.
As bad as Ford fared in hybrid sales last month, Honda fared worse. The Japanese automaker's hybrid sales plunged 41 percent from a year earlier to 1,981 vehicles. While Civic Hybrid sales were up 39 percent, CR-Z and Insight sales both dropped at least 55 percent from February 2011.
As for electric-drive vehicles, General Motors' Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in vehicle beat out the Leaf in February sales, with the Volt moving 1,023 vehicles – more than tripling February 2011 sales – and Nissan selling 478 Leafs, a sevenfold increase from a year earlier. Whether the Volt sustains its momentum remains to be seen, as General Motors is halting Volt production for five weeks in order for dealers to get some of the plug-ins off of their lots.
Whether the Volt sustains its momentum remains to be seen.
With U.S. gas prices jumping about 20 cents a gallon last month to $3.74, Volkswagen boosted its sales of its more fuel-efficient diesel-powered models by 55 percent from a year earlier to 6,513 vehicles. Audi, however, reported a 26 percent drop in its diesel vehicle sales from February 2011 to 390 vehicles.
Finally, Mitsubishi, which debuted its i battery-electric vehicle in the U.S. late last year, moved 44 units, up from 36 in January. See a chart of all these number after the jump.
|COMPANY||Vol%||Feb. 2012||Feb. 2011||Vol%||YTD2012||YTD2011|
|FORD MOTOR COMPANY|
|Ford Escape Hybrid||-45.41%||434||795||-40.76%||779||1,315|
|Ford Fusion Hybrid||-19.51%||1,110||1,379||-26.70%||1,721||2,348|
|NISSAN NORTH AMERICA|
|All other Toyota hybrids||80.62%||4,224||2,339||68.50%||7,311||4,339|
|Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid||-3.52%||137||142||-21.70%||249||318|
|Porsche Panamera Hybrid||na||34||0||na||73||0|
|Honda Accord Hybrid||na||-||-||na||-||-|
|Honda Civic Hybrid||39.29%||741||532||0.42%||1,190||1,185|