Hybrid Vehicles Hit Record Sales in 2021

Automakers says hybrids enable consumers to dip their toes in the alternative battery market.

January 10, 2022

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SAN FRANCISCO—Hybrid vehicles hit record sales numbers last year in the U.S., reports Reuters. Hybrid sales rose 76% to 801,550 vehicles last year, accounting for 5% of U.S. light vehicle sales. EV sales jumped 83% to 434,879 but represented only 3% of the market.

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

Toyota was the top-selling automaker in the U.S. last year, and it posted record hybrid, plug-in and fuel-cell vehicle sales, which were up 73% to 583,697. Honda was the second hybrid vehicle seller in the U.S., with its hybrid car sales up 67% compared with 2020 to a record 107,060 last year. Honda plans to release an EV in 2024, its first foray into the market.

A Hyundai executive says that hybrids are "enablers" that will help accelerate sales of battery EVs.

"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," Jose Munoz, global chief operating officer, told Reuters.

EV vehicle charging infrastructure is a roadblock in EV adoption in the United States. The nation has about 110,000 charging stations now, but energy and auto experts say the U.S. needs at least five to 10 times that amount to make President Biden’s electric car plan work, while the EU has nearly 200,000 charging stations, and China has over 800,000.

Another roadblock in the driver transition to EVs is the availability of fast chargers, which charge an electric battery in 20 to 40 minutes, but they cost tens of thousands of dollars. These types of chargers are needed so EV drivers will be assured they won’t be caught with a dead battery and not near a charging station. Read more about electricity demand charges and what they mean for retailers’ ability to turn a profit from EV charging in the September issue of NACS Magazine.

A recent Convenience Matters podcast episode discusses how EVs are the future, and another episode explains how convenience retailers can attract and retain EV customers. A free NACS webinar helps retailers understand how EVs and environmentally conscious consumers will affect your business.