Toyota tops 1 million in global hybrid sales, but growth slows

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TOKYO -- Toyota booked global hybrid vehicle sales above 1 million units for a second time in 2013, but annual sales growth slowed to one of its weakest levels in almost a decade.

Global sales of Toyota Motor Corp.’s gasoline-electric cars climbed to 1.279 million vehicles in 2013, the company said in a statement today. That compares with 1.219 million in 2012, the first year the Japanese company sold more than 1 million annually.

The additional volume of 60,000 was the smallest increase since 2004, except for 2008 when global sales were flat and 2011 when they fell in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

The tempering was due to tepid sales in Japan and to a comparison against unusually high hybrid sales the year before.

In 2012, Toyota’s global hybrid sales nearly doubled.

That surge was fueled by Japanese eco-car subsidies and by rebounding supply, as plants came online after the earthquake.

With those subsidies phased out for 2013, Toyota’s sales of hybrids in Japan -- long its hybrid cash cow, accounting for half its global volume -- sputtered. Hybrid sales in Toyota’s home market climbed by just 1,100 units to 679,100 vehicles.

Toyota even booked a bigger sales gain in the North America. Sales there rose by 13,600 units, or 4 percent, to 358,100.

“We aimed to maintain sales of one million units through the introduction of new hybrid models,” spokesman Dion Corbett said.

New hybrids introduced

Among the new hybrids introduced in 2013 or at the very end of 2012: The Crown Hybrid, Avalon Hybrid, Lexus IS 300h, Corolla Axio Hybrid, Corolla Fielder Hybrid, Crown Majesta Hybrid and the Lexus GS 300h. Toyota now sells 24 hybrid models and one plug-in hybrid in about 80 countries worldwide.

It plans to launch 15 more hybrids in the next two years.

Cumulatively, the company has sold 6.073 million hybrids since August 1997, when it introduced its first -- the Coaster Hybrid EV bus. It followed with the Prius in December of that year.

The Prius, which has since notched cumulative sales of 3.167 million vehicles, accounts for more than half the global total.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter


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