Hybrid Sales Fall Nearly 10% in 2008

It seems even popular and trendy hybrid vehicles were unable to buck the downward trend experienced in 2008 by the automotive industry.

Despite record high gasoline and diesel fuel prices, sales of hybrid vehicles fell nearly 10% during 2008, according to numbers released by the Automotive News Data Center.  However, in spite of the over-arching bad news, there was some good news for one of the Big 3: General Motors increased their hybrid sales by almost 200 percent.

The “headline news” regarding a 10% decrease in hybrid sales seems pretty bad.  After all, in the first half of 2008 we had both the release of several new hybrid models and saw the U.S. national average gas price climb above $4 per gallon for the first time ever.

However, when you consider the fact that auto sales in general fell by nearly 20% in 2008 when compared to 2007, you’d have to argue that hybrid sales were actually pretty solid overall!

Obviously, the main driver — no pun intended — behind falling auto sales was the deteriorating economy.  Credit became harder to come by, making it difficult for people to finance new car purchases.  And with rising unemployment, even those who could get the financing may have been afraid to take on extra debt in what’s shaping up to be the worst labor market in decades.

In addition to these factors, hybrid vehicles had another thing working against them during the second half of 2008 — falling gasoline prices.  After all, one of the biggest incentives to owning a hybrid was the fact it helped to lessen the pain of $4 gas.  But with gas prices now holding steady below $2 per gallon, using less gasoline has become less necessary, at least from a financial standpoint.

Which direction do you think hybrid sales will go in 2009?  Leave your ideas/comments below!


  1. It’s ok to have a comment.

  2. I guess hybrids are a trend that goes with the pricing trend as well. I find the same in sales with gas additives. When the prices are high, people do whatever they can to save money on gas. But when prices go down they tend to forget that the price could go right back up again!

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