Despite being on sale for more than a decade, global sales of hybrid cars will still total less than one million in 2010.
Industry analysts JD Power and Associates predict sales of hybrids will reach 934,000 this year, meaning 2010 will most likely be the last year global sales do not crack the million mark.
The predictions are up significantly from the reduced levels of 2009, when just 728,000 were sold in a tough global economic climate.
Hybrids make up slightly less than two percent of the total global passenger vehicle market.
According to the JD Power data, around half of the growth in 2010 has come from Japan, where the government has implemented substantial tax incentives to encourage the purchase of hybrid vehicles.
November’s sales figures confirmed the Toyota Prius was the highest selling passenger vehicle in Japan for the 18th consecutive month.
Europe has been much slower to embrace hybrid technology, with significant competition coming from entry-level low-emission petrol and diesel vehicles. JD Power predicts sales will reach 107,000 this year, up from last year’s 74,000.
Sales in the US – one of the major markets driving the hybrid movement – will increase around eight percent compared with 2009, although that figure is below the predicted total US market growth of 12 percent. Sales for 2010 are tipped to reach 315,000.
Australian hybrid sales have increased significantly in 2010, largely on the back of Toyota’s introduction of the Camry Hybrid.
In total, 8453 hybrids have been sold in 2010 – 1.11 percent of the 759,546 new passenger vehicle market (excluding commercial vehicles).
In the first 11 months of 2009, just 3891 hybrid vehicles were sold in Australia.