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Hybrid vehicle sales surge past pure EVs in US in April: IHS Markit

25 June 2021 Kevin Adler

Led by soaring sales of hybrid vehicles, the overall share of electrified light-duty vehicles hit a record 8.4% in the US in April, according to data from IHS Markit. As recently as December 2020, the share was below 5%.

In April, hybrids accounted for 6.1% of all new vehicles registered and EVs accounted for 2.4%.

While not offering zero emissions in the manner of a pure electric vehicle (EV), IHS Markit analysts said the vehicles powered by a combination of gasoline and batteries provide consumers with the comfort level of using a familiar technology, while enabling them to purchase a car with better mileage and lower emissions.

"The share of hybrids in the US market has more than doubled compared to the same time frame in 2020, climbing from 2.3%," IHS Markit said. "Their volume rose more than five-fold from 17,591 a year ago to 92,865 this past April."

Over half of hybrids' year-over-year growth has been driven by Toyota, for which hybrid volume jumped more than six-fold to just over 51,000, led by the company's Sienna, Venza, and RAV-4 models alongside additional volume from the Highlander, Prius Prime, and Prius models, in that order.

"The major driver of hybrids' growth is Toyota," Thomas Lilly, an IHS Markit auto analyst, said in an interview. "It now has two models only available as hybrid: the Sienna and the Venza."

Toyota's commitment to hybrids is greater than that of its US competitors, Lilly added. While he said many automakers "are rushing to switch to all-EVs in the future," Toyota has said that it's balancing its investments between hybrids and EVs. "It's going to offer everything to the public, and it will let the public decide" what to purchase, he said.

Following Toyota, Honda hybrid deliveries also rose in April, led by a near 10-fold jump in CR-V hybrids and a four-fold increase in Accord hybrid deliveries since the same month last year. Ford, Jeep, and Lexus rounded out the top five brands in April's year-over-year hybrid increases.

The demographic profile of the hybrid buyer falls somewhere in between that of the EV buyer and the internal combustion engine (ICE) customer. Based on analysis of April registrations, IHS Markit found the customer age of the hybrid buyer is more similar to that of the gasoline consumer than that of the EV buyer: 46% of hybrid buyers are age 55 or older, and 45% of gasoline buyers fall in this category, but just 34% of EV buyers fall in that age range.

"The hybrid option gives consumers an opportunity to test the idea of an electric powertrain without assuming the perceived risks and reservations toward EVs in the market today," Lilly explained.

As more hybrid models become available, Lilly said that sales can be expected to continue to accelerate. Ford recently announced a compact hybrid pickup, the Maverick, which will debut for the 2022 model year. "Hybrids have been under the radar, but all of a sudden, sales are shooting up," Lilly said. "If Toyota continues to do well, we may see others follow with more models."

IHS Markit's updated forecast for the US market projects that in 2025, EVs will represent 11% of new car sales, and hybrids will have a 21% share out of a total market of 16.7 million vehicles. "That's almost a third of the market being electrified only three years from now," Lilly said.

Posted 25 June 2021 by Kevin Adler, Chief Editor


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