Toyota Prius lineup by Flickr user Geognerd
Sometimes it takes a little nudge to make us realize we know way too much about the car business.
When news reports quoted AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson as saying he had 600,000 used hybrids piling up on lots all over the country, we chuckled. And when we wrote about his speech, we didn't use that obviously erroneous figure.
Why "obviously"? Because last year, total global hybrid sales were 449,000 vehicles, and the total was a bit lower for 2007. So if AutoNation really had that many, they'd own every hybrid built in 2008--every single one--and a bunch from 2007 too. Unlikely, no?
Now our diligent colleagues at Edmund's have done a very nice dissection of how a media error comes to be. Their suggestion? The MarketWatch reporter probably scribbled "600,000" too close to "hybrids" on his pad. Perhaps he meant AutoNation's total stock of "green cars" of all shapes, sizes, and varieties.
They note that total Prius sales in the US since 2000 have been 675,000 units, representing about half of all hybrids sold. So it's equally unlikely that AutoNation might own close to half the Priuses in the country (if half their supposed 600,000 hybrids too were Priuses).
But we were saddened to see that figure of 600,000 "unwanted hybrids" propagate around the web without any critical thought. We found it
here, here, here, here, and--most disturbingly-- here. [On second thought, we're not going to point fingers. This time. Hey, we may goof one day too.]
We'll pause here for the usual shrieking and ranting at irresponsible media who are driving this country into the ground.
There! Feel better now? We do.
2006 Toyota Prius 5dr HB (SE) exterior front upper left
[SOURCE: Edmunds' Green Car Advisor; PHOTO from Flickr user Geognerd]