Hybrid Car Sales Hits 4-Year Low, Media Confuses Hybrids With Electric Cars

JUN 9 2015 BY MARK KANE 33

Current Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

This is not the first time hybrid cars are confused with electric ones, but when sales of hybrids are falling in the US, then electric cars seem to be grouped in just so that the media can declare plug-ins a failure.

One recent articles throws both categories of cars into one pot:

“With gasoline prices still well below a year earlier, hybrids and electrics are in less demand — even from existing alt-fuel car owners.

Though prices at the pump have been rebounding from their July-to-January plunge, just 3% of consumers in a May poll by financial firm Stifel said they would prefer to buy an electric, down from 4% in February.

Meanwhile, 24% say they would go for a hybrid vs. 31% in February. And professed preferences haven’t translated into actual sales.

And hybrid loyalty doesn’t have the same range: 22% of people who traded in their hybrids and EVs this year bought a new SUV, according to a survey by auto site Edmunds.com. That’s up from 11.9% three years ago.

Just 45% of those who traded in a hybrid or EV got another alternative-fuel vehicle, down from more than 60% in 2012.

Despite the high cost of their alt-vehicle programs, carmakers have been cranking out hybrids and EVs to meet government fuel-efficiency and emission mandates, as well as to not get left behind if the technologies take off.”

Sales of hybrids are shrinking because of lower gas prices, which is major factor encouraging one to buy more fuel efficient cars.

But electric cars will always be less affected, because they offer some other values besides just improved fuel economy – from advanced features and smartphone apps, through silence and refined drive experience to no need or almost no need for visiting a gas station. There is still a significant portion of customers who will not save too much on gasoline, but still prefer EVs simply because they are the better car.

In fact, despite the fact that the Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid is out of production and awaiting a new model, the Chevrolet Volt also awaiting launch of the next generation 2016 model and the Nissan LEAF bouncing back after a surge in 2014 – also reportedly awaiting a longer range, 30 kWh version, plug-in cars still managed to achieve almost exactly the same sales level as in 2014 – around 44,000 after five months. It never was better.

This is not a rewarding result, without growth for which we hope, but saying that hybrids and electric cars sales are at the lowest level in four years is unfair. Here is the truth about electric and hybrid car market share hitting a “4-year low”:

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales (January-May)

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales (January-May)

Source: investors.com

Categories: Sales

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33 Comments on "Hybrid Car Sales Hits 4-Year Low, Media Confuses Hybrids With Electric Cars"

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ArkansasVolt

“And hybrid loyalty doesn’t have the same range: 22% of people who traded in their hybrids and EVs this year bought a new SUV, according to a survey by auto site Edmunds.com.”

Sounds to me like the need to have more EV/PHEV SUV’s. Bring on the Mitsubishi Outlander!

Jelloslug

And in a year or two when gas is right back where it was a year ago giant SUV sales will drop and hybrids and EVs will all of a sudden become more popular again.

przemo_li

Hmm.

For USA? Yes. High gasoline prices will help PHEVs and BEVs, but they are not major driving force as one can see right now.

Maybe it will change when EVs go mainstream…

But why should it?

Its range that will enable more potential buyers (who can say “range anxiety” and “200 miles without recharging” in one sentence?).

So even then bigger factors will govern sales.

Hybrids… hybrids on the other hand have only fuel economy for them. Buyers affected by fuel economy will react to price of fuel.

On the other hand if there are enough hybrid SUVs people will buy those. Why not have big car and small fuel bills? 😉

Question is:

Will car OEMs offer non-plugin SUV hybrids?
Or will they offer plug-in SUVs as premiums?

Because lets face it. SUVs are somehow premiums over sedans, and EVs are somehow premiums over non-EVs 😀

Lensman
The article says: “This is not the first time hybrid cars are confused with electric ones, but when sales of hybrids are falling in the US, then electric cars seem to be grouped in just so that the media can declare plug-ins a failure.” While I appreciate InsideEVs concentrating on robust EVs, which is to say plug-in EV automobiles, even InsideEVs has articles on fuel cell electric vehicles. So it seems rather odd for the InsideEVs editors to insist on a rather narrow definition for “EV”, since they don’t always adhere to it themselves. The public in general, including other media sources, define the terms “EV” and “electric cars” more broadly. Wikipedia says: “An electric vehicle (EV), also referred to as an electric drive vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion.” The Wikipedia article includes, for example, the (non plug in) Prius, as well as diesel-electric train locomotives. Neither of the latter two fit within the narrow definition of “EV” as defined by InsideEVs. Personally, I’m glad InsideEVs concentrates on plug-in EVs. That is almost certainly the future of transportation. But InsideEVs does not own the terms “EV” nor “electric car”, and InsideEVs does not… Read more »
Loboc

“InsideEVs does not get to redefine “EV” to mean only “highway-capable PEV automobiles and motorcycles”.”

InsideEVs can do whatever they want. It’s their rodeo.

Brian

This entire post is based off of another media source’s article. How is that “Inside EVs’ rodeo”?

Brian

Well said. I personally take issue with calling non-plug-in hybrids EVs, because 100% of their energy comes from gasoline. However, that is the more accepted term.

What’s amusing to me is that any slight bit of electrification is called an EV, and only the purest gasoline vehicle is NOT an EV. Seems backwards to an enthusiast, but it makes sense from an historical / mainstream perspective.

Unplugged

I haven’t heard any source refer to “EV’s” as hybrids, so I don’t understand your statement that calling hybrids “EV’s” is the “more accepted term.” In fact, other than GM’s marketing, I can’t see why the Volt would be referred to as an EV. But certainly, I have not heard anyone refer to a gas hybrid as an EV.

As Lensman claims that Wikipedia (that’s really not a “source” BTW) lists diesel locomotives as “EVs.” Okay, you go stand at the train station and point at a train and say, “Look at that EV!”, and tell me how many people look at you as if you’re crazy.

Sorry, “EV” is the normal short cut term used to describe a BEV. Not a hybrid and certainly not a train.

Lensman

Wikipedia definitions, just like dictionary definitions, cannot be considered an “authority”, but do reflect common use. If for some reason you reject Wikipedia, here are a couple of others I find online:

“An electric vehicle (sometimes referred to as an EV or electric drive vehicle) is a type of automobile that uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion.”

source:
http://www.connectpositronic.com/electric-vehicle-connectors/

“By definition an electric vehicle has an electric motor to propel it along some (hybrid electric) or all of the time (pure electric).”

source:
http://www.electricvehiclesresearch.com/articles/6703/idtechex-multi-motor-electric-vehicles-but-not-as-we-know-them

* * * * *

There are many types of EVs which don’t get coverage at InsideEVs. When was the last time they did an article on electric bicycles? I don’t think they ever have. Furthermore, aside from the Twizy, low-speed NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) don’t get much if any coverage here. But I don’t know if even the most die-hard EV purist would say that any NEV isn’t really an EV!

We don’t see much here on electric boats or underwater drones, either, despite the fact that they definitely are EVs.

Unplugged

I’m getting the feeling I’m in Wonderland. EV means electric vehicle, if I’m not going to far out on a ledge here. A hybrid that uses gasoline only isn’t an electric vehicle unless one distorts the term to include anything with an electric motor. Using Wikipedia as a source for any definition is absurd. In Wikipedia, there is no footnote as to the claim that electric vehicle is defined simply as a motor for propulsion.

I would argue that the commonly accepted term “EV” and that used by the reasonable person, is to refer to a battery electric vehicle, not a gas hybrid or locomotive train. And since no one can disprove my assertion, I will accept my argument and continue to use the term “EV” as referring, in shorthand, to an EV.

Lensman
Seriously? Then why is HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) a common and accepted term, even here on InsideEVs? Unplugged said: “I would argue that the commonly accepted term ‘EV’ and that used by the reasonable person, is to refer to a battery electric vehicle, not a gas hybrid or locomotive train.” You are, just like a few others here, attempting to limit the definition of “EV” to the narrow category of BEV. If that’s what “EV” meant, then we wouldn’t need or use the term “BEV”. I find it rather discouraging and even depressing that some here are trying to argue that the Volt isn’t an EV. Of course it’s an EV. It’s a lot further along the spectrum of pure gas guzzler to pure BEV than the (non-plug-in) Prius is, and even the Prius is a HEV — which is still a sub-category of EV. The Prius can be, and sometimes is, run on its electric motors alone, with no assist from the gasoline engine. * * * * * Let’s look at the spectrum of passenger cars, from pure gas guzzler to pure BEV: Pure gas guzzler (example: A Model T with hand-cranked starter) Gas guzzler with electric starter… Read more »
Lensman

Edit: I wrote “(Note: I’m not aware of any production pure serial HEV, altho there have been some prototypes)”

I meant, I’m not aware of any production pure serial HEV that uses an ICE, rather than a fuel cell, for a generator.

Foo

To me, an “EV” is what you called a BEV. Anything else is just an “electrified” something-or-other. Yes, there is a spectrum of those something-or-others, but a BEV is a BEV is a BEV.

Lensman

And a terrier is a terrier. Nobody is arguing otherwise. But you’re arguing that all dogs are terriers, despite the fact that there are many other types of dogs.

Joe

Serial hybrid: BMW i3 Rex

Lensman

Well yes, but it’s a PHEV, not a mere HEV. Of course, you can correctly point out that PHEV is properly speaking a sub-category of HEV.

The alphabet soup of EV categories has gotten pretty complex, and I don’t at all thank GM (REEV) or BMW (BEVx) for confusing the situation by adding unnecessary acronyms.

Brian

I have no problem with questioning Wikipedia as a source. It is a reference, not a source.

However, Merriam-Webster defines “Hybrid” as “something that is formed by combining two or more things”
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hybrid

The non-plug-in Prius is a Hybrid. It combines two things – a gasoline car and an electric car. It is, by definition, both a gas car AND an electric car at the same time. A hybrid of the two.

I’m with Lensman on this one. There is a spectrum from pure gas to pure electric. I am more interested, personally, in the part of that spectrum which includes a plug. However, one cannot objectively argue that this is where the “line” is between “EV” and “not EV”.

Electric – unlike Toyota’s version – ‘Electrified’ – generally means – you give it Electricity to Go! Electrified – means – it has some subsystems that are Electric! If the Electricity going to the motor on board comes from a Gas/Diesel Engine (Hybrid, Sometimes – Plug-In Hybrid) or from a H2 Fuel Cell (FCV) – then pretty much – the on board ‘Generator’ is using Fuel – be it Gas, Diesel, or H2, and that means – that there are ‘Sub-Systems’ making the Electricity on board the Vehicle – but – when it is time to fill up – only the Plug In Hybrid – (of these samples) gets it Electricity as a source from outside, along with Pure Electrics, or BEV’s. I would not call a VOLT, CMAC ENERGI, or PIP, by any other term than a Plug-In Hybrid – even though their operational styles may differ, they are all equal – in so long as you drive them daily within their Electric Range, and can make long trips on them without concern for the Battery Capacity. Maybe some might call a Boeing 787 an Electric Airplane, but I believe it is but an ‘Electrified Airplane’ no matter how… Read more »
Lensman

The distinction you are missing is that the term “electric vehicle”, or EV, means a vehicle which uses electric motors for propulsion. So far as I know, every modern mass-produced plane uses batteries for starting the engines and for auxiliary power. But very few of them use batteries to power the propulsion of the airplane.

The distinction between EV and non-EV isn’t whether or not it has batteries onboard. The distinction is between whether or not it uses one or more electric motors for propulsion; to spin the wheels or propeller or whatever pushes the vehicle forward.

I don’t know if a diesel-electric train locomotive has batteries or not. Quite possibly it does, to start the engine. But if it had no batteries at all, it would still be an EV, because it does use electric motors to spin the wheels.

Mike I

Please revise your graphic to include the market share percentage for each period. Their story is talking about market share, but your graphic is gross sales.

Mike I

If you don’t have the data to properly calculate the market share percentage, you should pull the story until you do.

ModernMarvelFan

“This is not the first time hybrid cars are confused with electric ones, but when sales of hybrids are falling in the US, then electric cars seem to be grouped in just so that the media can declare plug-ins a failure.”

That is why we need to seperate out the PEVs from hybrid. Calling PHEV just another “hybrid” really doesn’t help the case either. It is either a car with a plug or it doesn’t.

PEV is important.

Speculawyer

“Hybrid Car Sales Hits 4-Year Low, Media Confuses Hybrids With Electric Cars”

Some outlets may be confusing them . . . others may be intentionally conflating them when they have a political axe to grind.

Michael

HEV. Hybrid Emission Vehicle.

Rex Wilson

Now you know that mainstream media is controlled by Big Oil.

When the Prius Gen-4 is launched, expect the hybrid vehicle sales to go up.
When the Prius Volt-2 is launched, expect the plugin vehicle sales to go up.

Electric vehicle sales are already very high. And they will increase further when Model-X is launched.

Mister G

EV sales are not high they are pitiful compared to ICE sales in USA. When EV sales are 70% of new car sales..then you can state EV sales are very high.

Speculawyer

Plug-in sales are small but they have not been dropping.

Plug-in cars are expensive and gas prices are cheap right now. But that situation won’t last.

Mike777

Honda sells a Hybrid Fit in Japan that takes 50% of that model’s sales.

Is Honda USA management incompetent?
That’s the real question.

Jeff Songster

This sure looks like press releases rewritten into crap journalism… Folks who have agenda… the Auto industry, writing biased,self serving press releases and feeding them to amateur or simply lazy, journalists who work at publications that sell ad space to same companies and their suppliers and OEMS.
If this crap keeps up get ready for the movie sequel…
Who Killed the Electric Car AGAIN!

PHEVfan

Symmantics, symmantics…
One more phrase that is common here on InsideEVs is the use of “plug-in vehicles” to group EV and PHEV (and EREV) into a class where at least some of the electricity comes from an external (assumingly cleaner) source than gasoline/diesel. This is yet another distinction that can get confused with BEV, but at least clearly does not include HEVs.
Of course, that opens the can of worms as to how many miles can a PHEV go on electricity alone, and does that really ‘qualify’ as an EV.

Steve

I prefer to all an electric car that doesn’t use any gasoline/petrol a “BEV.” Any car that has an electric motor for driving the car, AND any kind of petrol tank/petrol engine inside the car, is a “hybrid.”