Right now, Toyota dominates the world hybrid car marketplace. Let’s look at the numbers. Toyota sold 4.72 million vehicles in the first half of 2007. 1.33 million of those were sold in the U.S. Out of that U.S. sales group, 146,536, or a full 11% were hybrid cars. Specifically in June, they sold 46,630 Camrys and 17,756 Priuses. That Prius number is up 75% from June 06, and considering that the Camry is the best selling passenger car in America, the fact that Toyota is selling one Prius for every 2.6 Camrys is mighty impressive and confirms a dramatic hybrid shift among U.S. consumers.
Just released July 2007 data indicate that hybrid sales of all makes is up 12% from July 2006. In this last month 16,062 Priuses were sold out of a total of 28,585 hybrids (56%), and hybrids accounted for 2.2% of overall vehicle sales.
General Motors (GM) for it’s part delivered 320,935 vehicles in July 2007, in that group 201,069 were trucks (63%). For first half 2007 they delivered 4.67 million units, second place to Toyota, but 2.25 million of those vehicles were sold in the U.S., which is almost double Toyota’s sales there. It is interesting to note that the top 3 selling vehicles in the U.S. are actually pick-up trucks (4th is the Camry), which explains GM’s U.S. sales advantage overall. That’s’ right folks, the U.S. makes and drives gas-guzzling trucks
Now we need to consider where things are heading. With gas prices continuing to rise, in fact oil within the past two weeks hitting an all time high of 78$ per barrel, and with climate change concerns high on the scale of public awareness, we are very likely at the mere foot of an extremely steep climb of hybrid vehicle adoption.
GM presently manufactures two hybrid cars, the Saturn VUE and Aura, and are releasing three more this year, the Chevy Malibu and Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon. Next year they will release three more hybrids; Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Silverado, and GMC Sierra. Those last two are pick-up trucks. GM could not provide me with current sales numbers of hybrids, claiming they are not “broken out” from their parent lines, but are likely quite small right now. Overall (both standard and hybrid) 52,000VUEs and 33,000 Auras were sold in the first half of 2007 in the U.S. This total number, is less than the total number of Priuses that were sold.
It is quite clear from these facts that GM must move to electrification in order to not only thrive in the future, but survive.
The announcement of the Volt was clearly a shock to the system (pun intended), and suddenly Toyota has been moved from the dominant position to the come from behind spot. The current Prius does not hold a candle to the Volt in terms of fuel efficiency, sexiness-factor, technology, or appearance. The fact that so many Priuses are sold attests to the fact that it is fuel efficiency that people want, so much so that they will sacrifice looks.
Now Toyota has put on public display their weak hand. The so-called “new” plug-in Prius with its lame name “Plug-in HV” is nothing more than an old Prius, with a heavy pile of old-fashioned NiMH batteries in the trunk, that can only manage 8 miles to a charge. This car pales dimly in comparison to the Volt’s powerful electric engine, lightweight and powerful lithium-ion batteries, 40 mile electric driving range, and impressive 600-700 mile combustion assisted range.
It is very interesting that Toyota has officially delayed it’s adoption of Lithium-ion technology. Here is where GM has appeared to pull another brilliant move. They solicited bids from 13 lithium-battery suppliers who had the confidence that they could supply GM Volt battery packs on a mass-production level. From that group the two most promising teams were selected and given development contracts. To me that means money and likely a non-compete agreement. At that point, Toyota was bootstrapped. They lost access to the best and brightest makers of Li-ion. Right now we are are in the midst of a very aggressive engineering phase, and will see some working packs by year end, for the Volt, not the Toyota.
The EV1 was the right idea at the wrong time. The Volt is a life-or-death decision for GM. To my thinking there is no doubt that GM will and must make it happen. Furthermore GM is now in the right position to turn the whole market around and beat Toyota at it’s own game. Toyota might try to beat GM to market with a plug-in car, but in a battle of Volt versus Prius HV, the Volt will win hands down. So let’s roll GM..you won round one and two, now it’s time for the knockout.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2007 at 11:47 am and is filed under Competitors, Hybrid, PHEV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.