Exactly which car was number four million is impossible to determine as these are aggregate sales for all U.S. manufacturers. More clear is the milestone has been passed by May 2016.
Top U.S. Sellers
Unlike in Japan where the Prius Liftback (AKA the “regular” Prius) trades places with the smaller Prius c model – even surpassing sales of conventional new cars – in the U.S. the Prius has long dominated the hybrid sub-market with triple the sales volume of the next-nearest hybrid.
The Prius alone has sold 1,643,000 units in the U.S. since it was launched in 2000, and this amounts to 40.8% of all U.S. hybrid sales.
Through April, the rest of the top 10 by cumulative sales are as follows:
2. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 345,640
3. Honda Civic Hybrid – 234,610 (now discontinued)
4. Fusion Hybrid – 166,341
5. Prius C – 165,075
6. Sonata Hybrid family – 160,417 (includes Kia Optima – shares the exact same powertrain)
7. Lexus RX400/450h – 157,062 units.
8. Prius V – 148,079
9. Highlander Hybrid – 133,760
10. Ford Escape family – 130,803 (discontinued since 2012, includes Mercury Mariner – shared the exact same powertrain)
A Bit of Recent History of Hybrid Vehicles
By the end of 2010 the hybrid market had blossomed to 29 models. On the low side, as few as 50 Saturn Vues were sold in 2010 and on the upper reaches, 140,928 units were sold of the Prius.
Since late 2011 a similar upward trend that started slowly began for plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars.
Hybrids have been eclipsed by these new darlings of the green car movement so much so that some enthusiasts have been known to declare a hybrid-electric vehicle is not an “alternative energy” car because it still relies on gas.
In any case, the hybrid market is nearly classified as “mainstream,” though its higher take rate of 3.2 percent a couple years ago has dropped to just 2 percent of the U.S. market.
The entire U.S. passenger vehicle market however is also increasing, so this sliver, while smaller, represents a fair number of cars.
In 2013 when the year saw 3.19 percent hybrid sales, this was 495,685 vehicles out of 15,531,609 total passenger vehicles. In 2015, when hybrids finished the year art 2.21 percent market share, the U.S. bought 17,386,331 passenger vehicles, and hybrids tallied to 384,404.
Through May, hybrids are still down, get fewer headlines, but new models are improving with several sedans in the 40- to almost 50 mpg combined range, and a couple hatchbacks exceed 52 mpg.
This is far above the U.S. EPA’s average mpg which has hovered in the mid-upper 20s and the best hybrids already meet federal fuel efficiency standards for 2025.