Hybrid Sales Grow Fastest in Midwest

New hybrid vehicle registrations have grown more than 49 percent nationwide in the first seven months of 2007 when compared to the same timeframe in 2006, according to R. L. Polk & Co.

The Midwest region posted the highest increase of 56.9 percent when compared to the South, Northeast and the West regions. The West region leads in total volume, anchored by the number one hybrid vehicle registration state, California.

“Hybrids are being adopted by vehicle buyers in all regions at an increasing rate for many factors which include fuel prices, differentiating themselves from other consumers and environmental activism,” said Lonnie Miller, Polk director of industry analysis. “The data indicates that hybrids have not hit plateau and that there is room for continued growth within the marketplace in all regions.”

Oklahoma led all states with growth of more than 143 percent compared to the first seven months of 2006 (see table 2) while Hawaii was the only state showing a decline in new hybrid vehicle registrations, dropping 5.3 percent (see table 3).

Large gains were made in the Midwest due in part to the Toyota Prius, which boasted an 88.3 percent, increase and the Toyota Camry with a 214.9 percent increase from the first seven months of 2006, which marked the entry of the Camry hybrid in the U.S.

While the majority of sedan hybrid registrations increased, both the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX400h declined sharply in every region. Highlander registrations were down 24.6 percent while the RX400h was down 16.3 percent.

Following the Toyota Prius at just over 50 percent share of the hybrid segment, the Toyota Camry was the second highest registered hybrid model, taking 15 percent of the category, followed by the Honda Civic, with 9.1 percent of all new hybrid registrations.

Continuing leadership in this segment, Toyota and Lexus own more than 78 percent of the hybrid market, compared to 74 percent in the first seven months of 2006.

“While the overall U.S. vehicle market is down, hybrids are a bright spot in the automotive industry with this category projected to easily exceed 300,000 vehicles this year. At this point, hybrids account for more than two percent of the total U.S. vehicle market, which is supported by the regional growth we’ve seen,” said Miller.

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