Hybrids Lead Q2 Sales for Toyota

·4 min read
Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota
  • A difficult first half of the year has choked sales across the board, leading Toyota to lose its top-selling spot.

  • Toyota's unit sales numbers were down for almost all models with the exception of select hybrid crossovers and sedans.

  • The RAV4 hybrid, Corolla hybrid, and Lexus ES 300h were all up in year-to-date sales, with buyers trending towards economical and efficient vehicles overall.

The first half of 2022 hasn't been easy for automotive manufacturers, with persisting computer chip shortages and transportation complications. Sales fell across the board, with a projected 19% total loss, and companies struggled to hold onto their marketplace share. Notably, General Motors overtook Toyota Motor North America with over 582,000 vehicles sold in the second quarter of this year.

Despite this, Toyota is still having a somewhat successful year. In fact, a number of Toyota and Lexus hybrid models posted positive year-to-date sales, even with negative sales numbers for June.

Sales of the ever-popular internal-combustion RAV4 fell 9.2% this year compared to last, though it's worth noting that this decline in sales still represents 200,885 units sold. A 65.5% increase in YTD sales allowed the hybrid version of the RAV4 to report significant success, with 86,803 units sold this year. That's 34,000 more units sold than the same time last year. Sales for the plug-in RAV4 Prime were also up a modest 5%.

Given the continually rising price of gas and state-by-state EV adoption strategies, the popularity of a more efficient power plant in a familiar chassis is predictable. Toyota has had great success with the RAV4 since its inception, as the SUV and crossover market booms. EV SUVs were some of the only types that managed to post positive YTD earnings, with the Ford Mustang Mach-E reporting a 36.2% rise.

Photo credit: Lexus
Photo credit: Lexus

The exceptions to this trend were the Lexus ES hybrid and Toyota's Corolla hybrid. Both sedans posted positive YTD sales, coming in at 19.8% for the Lexus and 8.3% for the Corolla. Lexus' ES sedan is positioned as a middleweight option for prospective luxury buyers, and the hybrid model starts at a reasonable $1225 more than its internal-combustion sibling. As a result, the model has convinced 6802 buyers, a 1123 unit difference as compared to last year. Sales for the ICE ES model were only marginally down, with nearly 22,000 units sold this year.

With the 8.3% rise, Toyota has moved 18,065 hybrid versions of its 56-year-old economy car. The Corolla has been long surpassed as Toyota's most popular car, though it remains a top-seller nonetheless. To put the popularity of the Corolla and the hybrid version in context, sales for the traditional Corolla were down 25% with a YTD sales of 116,832 units.

Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

The acceptance and positive sales of hybrid cars are worthy of celebration, but it's important to contextualize the numbers. While hybrid and battery electric vehicle adoption is slowly on the rise, the tradition of internal combustion is still overselling by a thick margin. A variety of price and logistics deficits can explain this gap that manufacturers are rapidly working to close.

"Later this year, customers can expect even more electrified, refreshed, and limited-edition Toyota and Lexus products that fit their lifestyles, all with the safety, quality, and fun-to-drive features expected from us," said Jack Hollis, executive vice president of sales at Toyota Motor North America.

For some manufacturers, easing customers into the electrified world has proven successful, with Toyota's Q2 sales being a prime example. Hybrid powertrains are ideal for this, allowing customers to experience a sliver of newness in a familiar chassis and with the long-held tradition of internal combustion as a backup. Honda has explicitly said that this will be its tactic for overall EV adoption. Toyota's messaging hasn't been as clear, though its adoption of hybrid-only power in revamped models paints a similar picture. Going forward, however, the maximization of the company's Federal EV credits will complicate its future EV market standing.

Share your thoughts on the continuing strength of hybrid vehicle sales in an overall slumping market in the comments below.