Toyota’s Hybrid Sales Are Far Outpacing Its EV Growth

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Toyota’s Hybrid Sales Are Far Outpacing Its EV Growth

Good morning! It’s Wednesday, April 3, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Toyota’s Hybrid Sales Up 57 Percent

After all the talk of dwindling sales at EV makers like Tesla and Chinese rival BYD, Toyota must be glad it maintained its focus on hybrid power rather than going all in on batteries. Now, the bet looks to be paying off as stellar growth in sales of hybrid cars has bolstered the Japanese automaker’s sales in the U.S.

Sales of Toyota cars in the U.S. rose 23 percent through March and sales for the first three months of 2024 rose 21 percent, reports Automotive News. Booming sales for America’s second-best-selling brand were owed to its impressive growth in the hybrid segment.

According to figures shared by the company, sales of Toyota’s electrified vehicles were up by 76.4 percent in the three months to the end of March. The growth came after sales of cars like the new Prius Prime, Camry Hybrid, Crown and Rav4 Hybrid, all saw volume increases in the triple digits for the first quarter.

The popularity of hybrids was replicated at sister company Lexus, which also saw its electrified sales increase by more than 60 percent in volume terms. As Automotive News adds:

The Japanese automaker’s collection of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen-powered and battery-electric vehicles accounted for over 36 percent of its total sales at both brands in March and for the first quarter.

However, while Toyota may like to lump all its mild-hybrid, plug-in models and battery-powered cars under the “electrified” umbrella, the sales growth was far slower for its fully electric models.

In fact, Toyota’s BZ4X electric car sold just 1,897 units across America between January and March 2024. That figure marks an 11 percent increase over last year, but still falls far short of the impressive EV growth seen by brands like Hyundai and Kia in recent months.

2nd Gear: GM Sales Falter Despite Truck Gains

While Toyota will be celebrating its sales successes this morning, General Motors has a little less to shout about as its latest results show a dip in sales across America. The company retains its place as the top-selling car company in the U.S., despite watching its sales for the first quarter dip 1.5 percent.

Despite the 1.5 percent drop in overall sales, General Motors did make gains in the truck segment, reports the Detroit Free Press. The American automaker sold 197,000 full-size trucks in the first three months of 2024, marking its best truck sales in the first quarter since 2020. The Free Press reports:

GM President of North America Marrissa West said in a statement that all of GM’s brands are doing well.

“GM gained retail market share year-over-year with strong mix and pricing, our inventories are in good shape heading into the spring, and production and deliveries of Ultium Platform EVs are rising, led by the Cadillac Lyriq,” West said in a statement. “We’re on plan.”

As well as pickup truck growth, GM also had some positive news in EVs , as the Cadillac Lyriq EV is finally selling in real numbers. The electric SUV accounted for 17 percent of Cadillac’s retail sales after the brand shifted 5,800 of them at the start of the year – a near-six-fold increase over the same period a year ago.

With so much growth, where was the shortfall that left GM with a 1.5 percent drop over Q1 in 2023? Well, it all came down to fleet sales, which the Free Press reports “plummeted 23 percent in the quarter” as a result of production issues that hit GM’s output of smaller trucks and cargo vans.

3rd Gear: Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi Begins Car Deliveries

Apple might have canned its ambitious plans to enter the automotive world, but it was never the only phone maker looking for a way into the car market. Now, Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi has kicked off deliveries of its first car, an electric model called the SU7.

Xiaomi has reportedly received more than 100,000 orders for its first car, which begins shipping today, according to reports from Reuters. The electric sedan will first launch with a limited-edition Founder’s Edition, before a wider rollout of the EV begins. As Reuters explains:

“Xiaomi’s car officially debuts, the real revolution in smart cars has officially begun, and China will surely give birth to a great company like Tesla,” CEO and founder Lei Jun said at a ceremony in Beijing marking the first deliveries.

The first deliveries come from a limited batch of 5,000 cars that Xiaomi had already produced – called the “Founder’s Edition,” equipped with additional accessories for early buyers.

Following last week’s launch of the SU7 – short for Speed Ultra 7 – Xiaomi advised buyers of its sedan that they could face wait times of four to seven months, a sign of robust demand.

With the rollout underway, Reuters warned that like almost every EV maker in today’s market, Xiaomi will probably lose thousands on every car it sells at first. In fact, the company could lose $10,000 for each SU7 that rolls off the factory floor, despite its 215,900 yuan starting price, which is roughly $29,872.

4th Gear: Mercedes Workers Vote On Unionization

Unionization is really sweeping the nation here in America. After the United Auto Workers union won big gains for workers at Ford, GM and Stellantis last year, workers at other car companies across the U.S. now want in.

Mercedes-Benz is the latest company to court unionization here in the States, with workers at its Alabama plant now filing for a vote on UAW membership, reports Reuters. Workers at the assembly plant in Alabama plan to file a petition as soon as this week. Reuters explains:

Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters cited three people familiar with the matter saying employees at the SUV plant in Vance, Alabama, plan to file paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a formal election to join the UAW. The date of an actual vote is not yet certain.

The union’s Region 8 Director Tim Smith said he had been with UAW President Shawn Fain in Alabama two weeks ago talking to Mercedes workers who were getting ready to petition this week for an union election.

“We’re proud of them and they’re going to win also,” Smith said on Tuesday at a North Carolina rally to kick off contract negotiations with Daimler Truck.

There’s no word yet on the timeframe in which Mercedes workers may vote to unionize. However, a UAW spokesperson told Reuters that “a majority of about 6,000 workers” employed at the site had signed cards to join the union.

Reverse: Horse Power

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