Counting Cars

Hybrids Outsell Most Segments in 2012


In 2012, hybrids as a group outsold all but a handful of segments, including midsize luxury cars, small cross/utility vehicles and each of the three SUV segments.

WardsAuto has been tracking sales of hybrids, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids since the market emerged in 1999, and a study of the 2012 sales data for these alternative-fuel vehicles is particularly worthwhile.

U.S. consumers bought 427,605 hybrids last year, up from 261,507 in 2011, according to WardsAuto data. That’s a 64% increase.

In fact, hybrids as a group outsold all but a handful of segments, including midsize luxury cars, small cross/utility vehicles and each of the three SUV segments.

From 1999 to 2009, U.S. market share for alternative-fuel vehicles grew to 2.8%. The segment dipped slightly in 2010 and 2011 but then came roaring back in 2012, finishing the year with 3.3% of the U.S. market. That’s nearly a half-million vehicles, the vast majority of which are hybrids.

A market once pioneered and dominated by the Japanese now is populated by the Europeans, and not only in the luxury-car segment.

Volkswagen is launching the new competitively priced Jetta Hybrid in the U.S., and it’s arguably a hybrid of a different stripe, with a peppy engine and sophisticated transmission. It’s a lot of fun to drive, which you haven’t been able to say about all hybrids.

New hybrids have recently entered the market from General Motors, Ford, Honda, BMW, Hyundai and Mercedes, and others are on the way from Acura, Infiniti, Honda, Nissan and Subaru. Even Rolls-Royce has a hybrid. Toyota, the king of the hybrids, is setting out to have hybrid versions of every vehicle in its portfolio.

Don’t forget battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids. A more affordable version of the Nissan Leaf is on the way, as is a battery version of the Chevy Spark. BMW is bringing both a new full-electric vehicle and an extended-range EV, both with lightweight carbon-fiber bodies. And the extended-range Chevy Volt EV will be joined in GM’s lineup by the Cadillac ELR, a luxury version of the Volt.

Clearly, the market for hybrid-electric vehicles continues to grow. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 11

on Jan 16, 2013

It seems that the hybrid cars have taken on the market in the recent years.An escalation in the fuel prices and also the concerns about environmental factors have resulted in a boost in the sales of the hybrid cars.Also the fuel economy of the hybrid cars are quite good too.

on Jan 16, 2013

Yea, hybrids aren't going away anytime soon. Auto makers have invested heavily in them.

on Jan 30, 2013

"In fact, hybrids as a group outsold all but a handful of segments, including midsize luxury cars, small cross/utility vehicles and each of the three SUV segments."

Confusing sentence, especially when stacked against this:

Midsize luxury car segment could not have possibly been outsold, while all three SUV segments seem to ahve been outsold.. so I don't understand how they both can be included in one series...

on Jan 30, 2013

The blog compares a non-segment attribute (power type) to existing market segments to demonstrate the growing popularity of hybrids in the market.

The sentence in questions should have read "three of Ward's SUV segments." (Ward's has five SUV segments.)

To clarify, total sales of hybrid vehicles (regardless of segment) outnumbered total sales of many of Ward's individual segments, including three of Ward's SUV segments.

Ward's does segment the market into more categories than the list you refer to in your comment. Looking at Ward's 28 vehicle segments - ( - Hybrid vehicles accounted for nearly 200,000 more sales in 2012 than Ward's Middle-Luxury segment, and out-tallied (separately) 18 of Ward's 28 segments.

on Jan 31, 2013

Yes, I should have clarified that I was referring to the three Ward's segments for non-luxury SUVs. Still, hybrids outsold each of the two luxury SUV segments that Ward's tracks, as well.

on Feb 11, 2013

Exactly, In the coming years hybrid cars going to hit the market and sales also going to increase. As the fuel price hikes day by day, so the people used to invest their money in hybrid car only.


on Apr 27, 2013

A hybrid is very similar to the gasoline powered automobile most people drive today, the big difference is the hybrid also uses batteries as part of their power supply, most hybrid cars on the road right now are gasoline-electric hybrids although, there are some that are diesel-electric,

on May 24, 2013

Another option for people looking for car hybrids is the Toyota Prius C subcompact which looks a bit sportier in comparison to its bigger Prius sibling. We should mention that it has a smaller propulsion system so don't expect any fast acceleration.

on Jun 21, 2013

More years and I hope hybrid cars will get a big hit in the market because of its efficiency on the road.

on Jun 21, 2013

We are now living in an advance world which is always ready to adopt new and advanced technology and science. Hybridization is the result of these new and advanced technology and science. This phenomenon also applied in automobile sector; there many hybrid cars are present in market.

on Nov 14, 2013

Oil and gas costs have been falling, as have natural gas prices, but a number of people have realized that electricity costs haven't gone down with them. They also aren't likely to, as the factors in setting electricity charges are a bit more complex.

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What's Counting Cars?

Blogs and commentary about automotive data, industry trends, and the future of the auto industry.


John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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