Record sales of hybrid vehicles in US will deepen traction of pure EVs

According to data from the automotive industry, while increased consumer adoption of full-electric cars have grabbed headlines, sales of gasoline-electric hybrid have quietly achieved record sales in the United States in 2020.

While US carmakers including Tesla Inc and Ford Motor Co have pushed the sales of pure electric vehicles, others have boosted the sales of their hybrid vehicle line-ups with the majority of consumers avoiding EVs because of higher prices, limited driving range and lack of charging stations.

In 2020, sales of hybrid vehicle in the United States jumped by 76% to 801,550 vehicles accounting for 5% of U.S. light vehicle sales, according to data from analytics firm Wards Intelligence. In comparison, although sales of EVs jumped by 83% to 434,879, they represent a market share of just 3%.

Toyota Motor Corp posted record hybrid car sales in the U.S. market, helping the company overtake General Motors Co as the top-selling U.S. automaker. The Japanese giant boosted the sales of its hybrids, plug-ins and fuel cells by 73% to 583,697, with most of them coming from hybrid.

GM sold fewer than 25,000 electric vehicles, even as it recalled Bolt EVs due to battery fire risks.

“Hybrids offer a really intriguing mix of fuel economy performance without some of the huge drawbacks that electric vehicles present,” said Brett Smith, technology director at Center for Automotive Research.

While pure EVs run only on electricity and require charging infrastructure, hybrid combining a conventional combustion engine with an electric propulsion system, take advantage of both systems.

Honda Motor Co, the second biggest hybrid car seller in the United States, also boosted the sales of hybrid cars by 67% compared to the previous year to a record 107,060 last year.

“We hope to increase our hybrid sales of our core products, CR-V and Accord, substantially in the coming years as we prepare for battery electric vehicles,” said Dave Gardner, executive vice president at Honda.

“It is just a matter of time, but I think consumer acceptance, it’s going to take a while to catch up to,” said Gardner.

Hyundai Motor Co sees hybrids and plug-in hybrids as “enablers” that will help accelerate sales of battery EVs, its global chief operating officer, said Jose Munoz.

He went on to add, “Some of our competitors, they jump directly into the battery EV only. We still see many consumers that are hesitant when it comes to getting into battery EV only”.

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