WASHINGTONU.S. sales of hybrids in March 2009 dropped 44 percent by volume year-on-year to 21,433 units — worse than the total light-duty vehicle market, which posted a 36.8-percent drop by volume for the month compared to March 2008, based on data reported by the Green Car Congress.

The results represented a 2.5 percent new-vehicle market share for hybrids in March — down from 2.82 percent in March 2008, but the highest mark so far in 2009. The month also saw the debut of three new hybrids — the Honda Insight, Ford Fusion, and Mercury Milan — on sale toward the end of the month.

Toyota reported a drop of 56.8 percent for the Prius, down to 8,924 units. The Camry Hybrid sold 2,554 units, down 63.1 percent, and representing 9.9 percent of all Camry sales. The Highlander Hybrid sold 1,307 units, down 53.7 percent, and representing 19.2 percent of all Highlanders sold. Conventional Camry sales were down 31 percent, while conventional Highlander sales were down 49 percent.

The Lexus RX 400h sold 1,165 units, a drop of 25.8 percent, representing 18.9 percent of all RX sales. Conventional RX model sales were down 19 percent. The GS 450h sold 42 units, a drop of 35.4 percent, representing 6.7 percent of all GS sales. Conventional GS sales were down 64 percent. The LS 600h L sold 25 units, down 78 percent, for 2.9 percent of all LS model sales. Conventional LS model sales were down 59 percent.

The Honda Insight, on sale only during part of the month, sold 569 units. The Civic Hybrid sold 2,869 units, down 23.9 percent, and representing 13.9 percent of all Civics sold. Conventional Civic sales were down 54 percent.

In a partial month debut, the Fusion and Milan hybrids sold a combined 451 units, representing 3.0 percent of all Fusion and Milan models sold. The Escape and Mariner hybrids sold a combined 1,351 units, down 32.7 percent, for 9.3 percent of all Escape and Mariner models sold during the month. Conventional model sales of the two were down 12 percent.

General Motors reported a total of 1,612 hybrids in March, comprised of 609 units of the Tahoe, Yukon, and Escalade two-mode SUVs, or 7.3 percent of total sales; 68 units of the Silverado and Sierra two-mode pickups, for 0.22 percent of total sales; 362 Saturn Vue Hybrids, for 10.4 percent of total sales; 547 Malibu Hybrids, for 3.7 percent of total sales; and 26 units of the Saturn Aura Hybrid, for 1.3 percent of total sales.

Nissan sold 834 units of the Altima Hybrid, which is available in only eight states, a 0.2 percent increase from March 2008, and representing 4.3 percent of total Altima sales. Sales of the conventional Altima were down 39 percent.

For detailed figures, go to www.greencarcongress.com/2009/04/us-hybrid-sales-in-march-2009-down-44-yearonyear-monthly-new-vehicle-market-share-of-25.html.