Washington, D.C. – Reported sales of hybrids in the U.S. dropped 42.7 per cent in December 2008 to 17,698 units, the lowest December figure since 2004 when only four models were available, according to the Green Car Congress. Total light-duty vehicle sales in the U.S. dropped 35.5 per cent for the month.

During the full year, total hybrid sales dropped 10 per cent in 2008 from 2007 to 313,781 units. Total light duty vehicle sales were down 18 per cent for the year. Hybrids held a 1.97 per cent share of the new vehicle market in December, and a 2.4 per cent share for the year overall.

Sales of the Toyota Prius dropped 44.7 per cent in December to 7,859 units, while full-year sales dropped 12.3 per cent from 2007, to 158,884 units. The company will unveil a third-generation 2010 Prius at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2009.

The Camry Hybrid sold 1,888 units in December, down 62 per cent, representing 7.5 per cent of all Camry models sold. For the year, the Camry Hybrid sold 46,272 units, a drop of 15.1 per cent from 2007. The Highlander Hybrid dropped 68.1 per cent to 890 units in December, representing 11.4 per cent of all Highlanders sold. Full-year sales were 19,391 hybrid models, down 12.1 per cent.

The Lexus RX 400h sold 1,463 units, a drop of 28 per cent in December, representing 14.7 per cent of all RX models sold. For the year, 15,200 hybrid models were sold, down 12.1 per cent. The Lexus GS 450h dropped 62.5 per cent in December, with 51 units sold, representing 4.3 per cent of all GS models sold. Full-year sales of the GS 450h were 678 units, down 58.8 per cent. The Lexus LS 600h sold 50 units in December, down 61.2 per cent, representing 3.4 per cent of all LS models sold. Full-year LS 600h sales were 980 units, up 4.6 per cent from 2007, but the model went on sale in August 2007.

General Motors sold a total of 2,555 hybrid models in December, moving to second place for hybrid sales. Combined sales of the two-mode Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade were 1,729 units, or 12.7 per cent of combined model sales overall. The company also sold 454 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrids, 34 Saturn Aura Hybrids, and 338 Saturn Vue Hybrids in December. Overall hybrid sales for 2008 were 14,439 vehicles.

Ford sold a total of 1,149 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrid models in December (Mercury is not sold in Canada), down 49.3 per cent and representing 8.1 per cent of all Escape and Mariner models sold. For the full year, Ford sold 19,522 Escape and Mariner hybrids, down 22.2 per cent from 2007. The company will bring a hybrid version of the Ford Fusion to market in early 2009.

Sales of the Honda Civic Hybrid dropped 67.9 per cent to 1,036 units, representing 6 per cent of all Civic models sold. Full-year sales of the Civic Hybrid were 31,297 units, down 3.9 per cent. The company sold one unit of the discontinued Accord Hybrid in December. The company will introduce its new 2009 Insight hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show.

Nissan sold 710 units of the Altima Hybrid in December, a 26.3 per cent drop from 2007, and representing 4.1 per cent of all Altima models sold. The Altima Hybrid is only available in nine states. There were 8,819 units sold throughout the year, up 5.1 per cent from 2007; sales reporting began in February 2007.

Chrysler reported combined sales of the two-mode Aspen and Durango SUVs of 46 units, representing 1.6 per cent of combined Aspen and Durango sales overall.

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