Hybrid Vehicle Sales Grew 40 Percent Last Year, Study Finds

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Snapshot of a hybrid owner - Experian infographic

Snapshot of a hybrid owner - Experian infographic

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Just how popular are hybrid cars? 40 percent more in 2012 than in 2011, according to the latest study from Experian Automotive.

In fact, a little more than that--40.9 percent to be precise, with overall market share increasing from 2.2 percent to 3.1 percent in a single year.

It's a stark indication of the hybrid car's relentless transformation from eco-themed curiosity to mainstream car choice. It also reflects just how well the average hybrid assimilates into an owner's life, requiring no day-to-day compromise while it goes about saving them money on gas.

Toyota has been particularly adept at exploiting this market, having recently sold its 5 millionth hybrid vehicle worldwide. It's seen the Prius, once dismissed as a toy for celebrities wanting to appear green, become California's highest-selling vehicle.

Experian does reveal that total hybrid numbers still make up little over 1 percent of all the vehicles on U.S. roads, but it's a number increasing further every year.

Some of the company's other numbers make for interesting reading.

For example, the gender split is fairly even, if slightly in favor of women--53 percent of adults who live in a hybrid household are female.

It's a young market too, with 25-34 year olds perhaps more eco-concious than their parents--this age group is 16 percent more likely to live in a household that owns or leases a hybrid.

Experian's credit information has also turned up some interesting numbers. Consumers purchasing a hybrid vehicle tend to have a better credit score than buyers of other vehicles--790 next to a national average of 755.

This might offset the slight price premium of some hybrids for owners, since they're able to obtain financing at lower rates than the average consumer--3.51 percent, compared with 4.36 percent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Toyota's Prius tops the list of hybrid vehicles bought on finance in 2012, and it took 37.2 percent of the hybrid market. Camry, Prius V and Prius C followed, while the Chevy Volt and even Nissan Leaf appear on Experian's list.

You can check out other statistics from the survey in the infographic above.


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Comments (3)
  1. The beauty of a hybrid is that owners achieve elevated fuel-efficiency, while not having to make any real lifestyle changes. It will be interesting to see if their sales continue to rise when the electric infrastructure improves to the point where the inconvenience of owning an EV or PHEV is largely abated.

    Curt Lindeman
    Co-Founder, President & CEO of eGreenCars.com

  2. For me personally, hybrids are just a transitional technology to eventually get me/us to 100% EV. Not a knock on hybrids at all, but just a natural progression for most who already have or are interested in hybrids now. I'm in a PHEV now (Volt) and hope to be in an EV in 2015 when my Volt lease ends.

    The next step for me is solar at home and I hope to have that in time for whatever EV I choose in 2015. But with fewer solar installation choices here in Michigan than places like California, I just hope that our eventual transition to solar power at home will be a smooth one.

  3. Robok2 - I agree and disagree. I believe that EVs will gain in popularity as the infrastructure improves, but they will likely still not be the answer for a very large segment of the population for many years. For those that live in harsh climates, don't have a second car, have a large family, or don't live in a single family residence, an EV isn't yet a practical choice. However, who knows what the EV industry will look like in 5 years. We are of the opinion that all of the current technologies may really be transitional, and the auto industry may look very different in 20 years.

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