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Hybrid Vehicle Registrations More Than Double in 2005

R. L. Polk & Co. Reports Toyota Prius, California Nationwide Leaders

SOUTHFIELD, MI - May 4, 2006: Nationwide registrations for new hybrid vehicles rose to 199,148 in 2005 -- a 139 percent increase from 2004 according to R. L. Polk & Co. For the second year in a row, Toyota Prius led the segment commanding 52.6 percent of new registrations. However, with more models entering the market, hybrid share for any given vehicle is being challenged.

"It's an exciting period for U.S. buyers as automakers continue their march to offer more choices of gas-electric hybrid models," said Lonnie Miller, director of Industry Analysis for R. L. Polk & Co. "This time last year, the category had grown more than 80 percent. Now it's more than doubled, aided by a growing number of models in this segment including the Lexus RX400h, Toyota Highlander and the Mercury Mariner."

Overall, the hybrid category reflects just over one percent of all new vehicle registrations in the U.S.

Following the Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic was the second most registered hybrid model taking 12.8 percent of the category followed by the Lexus RX400h which had 9.7 percent of all new hybrid registrations. Combined, Toyota and Lexus had better than seven out of ten (70.7 percent) of all new hybrid registrations in 2005.

The core set of hybrid vehicles offered today are automobiles powered by internal combustion engines, but are also equipped with batteries recharged during driving and an electric motor to assist with power demand. Hybrids do not need to be plugged in, yet they deliver exceptional mileage compared to their gas-only counterparts as well as many other models. Hybrids are considered environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional internal combustion vehicles.

REGIONAL STRENGTHS

California continues to lead the way for hybrids with 52,619 new hybrid vehicle registrations in 2005, up from 25,021 in 2004. California accounts for 26.4 percent of the nation's share for new hybrid units (Table 1). This outpaces second-ranked Florida by more than a five-to-one margin. Eight states (California, Florida, Texas, New York, Virginia, Illinois, Washington and Pennsylvania) accounted for more than 56 percent of the nation's hybrid registrations.

Supporting California's regional leadership in this category, four of the country's top 10 hybrid markets were from this state (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento). Los Angeles still remains the top metropolitan area for hybrid vehicles with 11.5 percent of all U.S. registrations in 2005 (Table 2).

"State and local governments are continuing to evaluate the 'perks' they want to reward to environmentally conscious drivers such as being able to drive solo in high occupancy lanes or tax benefits for buying a new hybrid," said Miller. "These are strong motivators to consider. In addition, fuel prices are spiking throughout the country again though our research indicates people buy a hybrid not for short-term economic gains, but to make a clear statement about what they want to do for the larger community."

AFTERMARKET OPPORTUNITIES

One question gaining much attention revolves around the potential for the parts and service business that hybrids offer to the automotive aftermarket. Since 2000, there have been nearly 392,000 new hybrids registered in the U.S.

"With roughly 50 percent of that five-year volume coming in the last year, significant aftermarket opportunities aren't expected until 2009. Until then, franchised OEM dealerships will likely see the bulk of the repair business based on manufacturer warranties," said Miller.

           Table 1 - Top 10 Hybrid States (2005 Calendar Year)

  Rank    State           Total New Hybrid      Share of U.S.
                            Registrations      Hybrid Volume (%)
  1     California              52,619               26.4
  2     Florida                 10,470                5.3
  3     Texas                    9,632                4.8
  4     New York                 9,372                4.7
  5     Virginia                 8,650                4.3
  6     Illinois                 7,286                3.7
  7     Washington               6,970                3.5
  8     Pennsylvania             6,948                3.5
  9     Massachusetts            6,060                3.0
  10    Maryland                 5,673                2.8
  Combined Top 10              123,680               62.1
        Table 2 - Top 10 Hybrid Metro Markets (2005 Calendar Year)

  Rank  Market (DMA(R))    Total New Hybrid     Share of U.S.
                             Registrations     Hybrid Volume (%)
  1     Los Angeles              22,922              11.5
  2     San Francisco            15,828               8.0
  3     New York                 11,351               5.7
  4     Washington D.C.           9,396               4.7
  5     Boston                    6,341               3.2
  6     Chicago                   5,843               2.9
  7     Seattle                   5,833               2.9
  8     Philadelphia              5,552               2.8
  9     San Diego                 4,281               2.2
  10    Sacramento                4,144               2.1
  Combined Top 10                91,491              45.9