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The Week in Sustainable Transportation
Mike Millikin, 9 Jan 05

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news. Green Car Congress is by far the best resource around for news and analysis covering the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike:

US auto sales data for December came in this week, painting a picture of a rather unpleasant 2004 for Ford and GM. For the year, Ford’s total sales dropped 5% (-14% in cars, -1% in trucks). GM's sales dropped 1% (-4% in cars, up marginally (less than 1%) in trucks.)

Total light vehicle sales climbed 1% in 2004 to 16,879,572 from 16,640,262 in 2003. Sales from the “Big 3” dropped 2% down to 9,992,043. Sales from the Asian manufacturers rose 7% to 5,815,944.

Taking the companies out of the mix, light truck and SUV sales increased 3% in 2004 to 9,343,263. Car sales dropped 2% to 7,536,309. In other words, the consumer preference for large, fuel-hungry vehicles continues to grow.

Sales of hybrid vehicles in the US broke through the 10,000 unit per month threshold in December. (GCC.) Hybrid sales for 2004 totalled 84,199.

As a comparison point, Ford sold 95,392 units of its F-Series trucks in December alone—more than the entire year’s sales of hybrids. For the year, Ford sold 939,511 F-Series vehicles, representing 6% of all vehicles sold in 2004. That compares to the 0.5% represented by all hybrids.

While the steady increase in hybrid sales is definitely excellent news, and while the waiting lists for the upcoming releases of new hybrid models appears very strong, the market still clearly rewards big and beefy over compact and efficient.

The major car shows start in January, with next week’ Detroit North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) being the highlight. Los Angeles slips in its major show a week earlier. At both, automakers are—or will be—talking more green.

Volkswagen Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder used his keynote speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show to reinforce his companyís strategic embrace of diesels coupled with synthetic fuels and biofuels as the pre-hydrogen solution for sustainable transportation, for example. (GCC)

Hyundai showed its FCV Tucson (GCC), and BMW its H2R hydrogen-fueled race car (GCC) for the first time in North America. Ford highlighted its Focus fuel cell vehicle (GCC) in addition to the Escape hybrid.

It appears that Toyota will be manufacturing a hybrid version of the Camry in the US for 2006 model year introduction. (GCC)

More prototype and concept news will come out of NAIAS.

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The Financial Times has announced the first commercial sale of a hydrogen vehicle.

The nice thing about the hybrids is that they seem to have entered the public imaginary and are now touted (even in mainstream media coverage) as "America's most sought-after mass-market car." If that can just go from 'sought-after' to 'purchased...'

Posted by: Hans Samuelson on 9 Jan 05



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