But Ford Motor Company wants consumers to know they may not be for much longer.
Earlier this week, Ford released a statement saying it had surpassed Toyota in plug-in hybrid sales for the first time ever.
Now, was Ford telling the truth, or using smoke and mirrors to make it appear as if they’ve topped Toyota? Little of both.
Upon further review of Ford’s release and public statistics of sales, their statement is not exactly as it seems. The Ford C-Max Energi (which sold 1,092 units) and Ford Fusion Energi (1,072 units moved) combined did out-sell Toyota’s Prius Plug-In hybrid last month, but only when the numbers are combined (2,095 Prius’ were sold). In fact, October was Toyota’s best month ever for plug-in sales, but Ford was able to squash that benchmark by proclaiming themselves sales victors.
The Prius PHEV, which is only sold in 15 U.S. states, is still the uncontested winner though. It out-sold the Chevy Volt (2,022) and Nissan Leaf (2,002), both of which also moved more units than the Ford models individually.
Given how successful Toyota has been – and continues to be – at cornering the hybrid market, it’s not a surprising move on Ford’s part to try and steal some of the spotlight at a time when hybrids are having a real consumer moment. That they went after Toyota outright in their lead-out statement on the release is indicative of their marketing strategy since the beginning with the C-Max and Fusion.
Still, the questionable way they portrayed their sales for last month shouldn’t overshadow the fact Ford has taken great strides with their hybrid cars. Sales of the Fusion and C-Max have steadily increased and are putting a competitive product on the market for consumers. Their focus could be characterized as being more about style points, and crafting a car that’s more “fun” than a Prius by offering an abundance of styling options Toyota doesn’t.
Either way, the surge in plug-in hybrid sales, regardless of the manufacturer, is good news for our environmental future. And if Ford continues to increase their numbers at the current rate, they could soon be the actual hybrid leader.