Hybrids extend lead over EVs in green vehicle race

Hybrids vs EVs (Hybrids vs EVs)
Hybrids vs EVs (Hybrids vs EVs)


Toyota surges, Tesla slumps as car buyers reassess their options for electrified models.

Electric-vehicle sales further decelerated in the first quarter, as purchases of gas-electric hybrids remained strong, accentuating a trend that started last year.

Industry figures released earlier this month showed that hybrid sales rose 43% in the January-to-March period, while EV sales flattened, up only 2.7% in the quarter. Contributing to the sluggish EV sales were weak numbers from Tesla, which accounts for about half of the U.S. electric market, according to data from research firm Motor Intelligence.

Following years of strong sales gains, EVs have cooled in recent months. Consumers are leery of charging availability and hassles, and prices remain too high for many buyers, according to dealers and survey data.

Many car companies de-emphasized hybrids in recent years as they touted new EV models to satiate enthusiasm from consumers and Wall Street. Now, more car buyers are choosing hybrids as a fuel-efficient option that doesn’t come with the complications of switching to a fully electric car.

Toyota Motor this month said U.S. sales of “electrified" vehicles—mostly hybrid models, along with a few full EVs—surged 74% in the first quarter, helping the Japanese automaker notch a 20% overall vehicle-sales increase. Strong hybrid sales have been powering Toyota results for several months.

The trend has some automakers outlining big plans to add more hybrid models. Ford Motor, for example, said it expects to offer a hybrid version of every vehicle in its U.S. lineup by 2030.

Write to Nate Rattner at nate.rattner@wsj.com and Mike Colias at mike.colias@wsj.com

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