Top 3 Plug-In Hybrid Cars In U.S. In 2018: Prius Prime, Clarity, Volt

JAN 25 2019 BY MARK KANE 11

Will the plug-in hybrid segment now be dominated by foreign models?

In the U.S. the top three selling plug-in hybrid models in 2018 were the Toyota Prius Prime, Honda Clarity PHEV and Chevrolet Volt. Those three cars are significantly more popular than other plug-in hybrids and the only models above them in ranking were pure electric Teslas.

Top 3 PHEVs:

  1. Toyota Prius Prime27,595 (#2 overall)
  2. Honda Clarity PHEV18,602 (#5 overall)
  3. Chevrolet Volt18,306 (#6 overall)

Let’s check the results in detail.

Toyota Prius Prime

The Toyota Prius Prime has been growing year-over-year every single month since its introduction. In effect, 2018 sales increased by 31.8% to 27,595 making it the top PHEV.

The Japanese flagship is also taking a big part of overall Prius family sales – about 31.5% in 2018. That’s because total Prius sales decreased (Toyota offers hybrid versions of other models, which probably distracts customers from the Prius) and the Prime seems simply more appealing than conventional hybrids.

Cumulative Prius PHEV sales (two generations) exceed 93,000.

Honda Clarity PHEV

The Honda Clarity PHEV is a relatively new model. It gained popularity because it’s a solid, large, five-seater with all-electric range of 47 miles (76 km). Not strange that 18,602 were sold in 2018. That’s almost all Clarity models (BEV and FCV versions were just a tiny addition).

In December, the Clarity PHEV was the top selling plug-in hybrid and as the Chevrolet Volt retires, the near-future for Clarity PHEV seems to be bright.

Chevrolet Volt

The Chevrolet Volt, after the introduction of the second-generation, achieved its peak in 2016 but since then sales decreased and in 2018 amounted to 18,306. The perspective for Volt is bad, because GM hit the limit of federal tax credit, so customers from April would get only half Р$3,750 from $7,500 incentive. Without additional investments and upgrades, sales are doomed to decline.

Because GM’s sees its passenger car business as unprofitable, it decided to close several plants later this year. The plant where Volt is produced along mainstream models like Cruze, also will be closed in a few months so this is the last chance you can get to buy a new Chevrolet Volt, the best selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. with 152,144 units sold through the end of 2018.

Categories: Chevrolet, Honda, Sales, Toyota

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11 Comments on "Top 3 Plug-In Hybrid Cars In U.S. In 2018: Prius Prime, Clarity, Volt"

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Toyota’s with its conservative strategy is now taking over the PHEV market, with an inexpensive low EV range car that doesn’t require a garage electrical upgrade and can be charged at work easily to double the electric range in a day. Makes good sense. If it wasn’t so slow I’d consider one.

if it were a 5 seater and didn’t give up Cargo Room compared to the Gen IV/PiP, I would have gotten one too.

It also helps that with incentives, it costs less than the standard Prius and has a less polarizing design. For many prospective Prius buyers, the Prime is an obvious choice.

To be honest, I think Toyota is passing off the Prime as simply a prius trim. I mean a prius costs $23,770 , a prime costs 27.3k, subtract the tax credit of $4,502 and you get $22,798.

Yes, the prime is cheaper than a regular prius. And weirdly enough it isn’t outselling the regular prius. (maybe they are limiting sales to ZEV states?)

But in some sense they are simply eating away at their credit quotas.

The cargo space in the Prime is significantly compromised (not to mention fifth passenger). Once you fold the rear seats it is decent, but with rear seats in place it is basically a shelf. Also a lot of people don’t have a place to charge, so the Prime is useless for them. Clarity is much better and price competitive once you factor in $7500 credit.

The salespeople certainly see it as another Prius trim. At one dealer, they weren’t even sure what the differences were – the salesperson was telling me “I heard the Prius (we were talking about the regular one) can go like 25 miles on electric, but I’m not so sure, I’ve never seen it done”, and at another they literally had no idea that the car could run in electric mode. The battery of the PiP on the lot was depleted, of course, and when I asked to test drive one with a full battery, they told me “no, of course it has a full battery, it recharges itself”. This is in California, btw, where they actually do sell these things in reasonable numbers. You basically have to research the car yourself, point at it on the lot, and say “I want this one”, salesperson be damned.

The entire Prius family sales are down. It has been on a steady decline.

“require a garage electrical upgrade”
What are you talking about? You can charge on regular plug any ev on the market…if you are ok with the speed. I installed a 220v in my garage because i wanted to not because i needed to.

If Honda continues to promote the Clarity and stock it on dealer lots the same way they do now in CA, in 2019 it will overtake the Prius. There is no doubt Americans are attracted to bigger cars…

Too bad GM is throwing away its most popular Plug-in. Toyota and Honda will gladly pick up the slack.

Honda and Toyota both have a better chance at selling these as people who visit Ford or Chevy dealers are generally looking for trucks and SUVs. Honda and Toyota still have strong sedan sales and people seem to think of those brands for cars. I haven’t looked into the Clarity. But Toyota could easily be selling twice or three times the number of Primes they sell just by stocking them in the rest of the country. Having checked just a few minutes ago, the entire Dallas/Ft.Worth metroplex, home to over 7 million people, has exactly one Prius Prime available for sale (not including used models). There are 61 Honda Clarities for sale in the same area. Somebody please explain.