The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Luxury Car Buyers Are Diving In On Hybrids

BMW and Volvo sales are on the rise, and it's hybrids to thank.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
A Volvo XC60 hybrid car is seen plugged into a charging point outside a Volvo dealership in Reading, west of London, on March 2, 2021. - Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo said on March 2 it will produce only electric vehicles by 2030 and sell them all exclusively online.
A Volvo XC60 hybrid car is seen plugged into a charging point outside a Volvo dealership in Reading, west of London, on March 2, 2021. - Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo said on March 2 it will produce only electric vehicles by 2030 and sell them all exclusively online.
Photo: Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

Forgive me for still having a brain stuck in the moment when hybrids were almost willfully dorky and culturally loathed, but it’s still fun to see the tech gaining acceptance at the top of the market. All that and more in The Morning Shift for July 7, 2021.

1st Gear: BMW Leads Luxury Sales In U.S., BMW Hybrids Up 148.5 Percent Global

If there’s one trend to define car-buying tastes these days, it’s that everyone loves crossovers and SUVs. If there were two trends, though, it’d be that hybrids are hitting the mainstream hard, and across the luxury spectrum in particular. The big news for BMW in the U.S. is that it is beating Lexus and Mercedes (with Tesla in the number five spot) as Automotive News reports. More interesting to me is that BMW’s hybrid sales have more than doubled year-over-year on its global scale, as the company declared in a press release:

With 153,267 units sold in the first half of 2021, the BMW Group grew its sales of both fully-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 148.5 percent year-on-year – making electromobility a major growth driver for the company in absolute terms as well. Sales of fully electric vehicles increased by 183.9 percent to a total of 36,089 and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 139.4 percent to 117,178 units.


BMW did not break out how much of an increase its hybrids were making here in the States.

2nd Gear: i3 Was Still A Dud

That might be in part because its most eco-oriented model is slowly withering on the vine over here. Just last week we reported that the carbon fiber EV/series hybrid BMW i3 is set to be discontinued. That its sales are in the toilet is perhaps less than surprising, as Inside EVs reports:

Unfortunately, the German manufacturer for a few years hasn’t reported plug-in electric car sales [in the second quarter in the U.S.], aside from stand alone models that are available only as plug-ins (i3 and retired i8).

We believe that BMW Group stopped reporting plug-in sales when the results were lower and lower. As the company continues to remain silent, maybe the results are still pretty low.

One thing that we know is that the BMW i3 sales are significantly below its best years and at least without another upgrade/price decrease, it might turn into the end of the i3.

  • i3: 511 (up 172% year-over-year, but from a low base in 2020) and 851 YTD (up 238%)
  • i8: 2 (down 96% year-over-year) and 10 YTD (down 91%)

I am still impressed two people got into new i8s. Cool car.

3rd Gear: Volvo Sales Up 54 Percent Thanks To Hybrids

Volvo seems to be doing well linking its past image of safety and responsibility with electricity, as Automotive News details as a side note in its larger report on BMW’s sales:

Volvo’s second-quarter sales rose 54 percent to 36,515, propelled by demand for plug-in models. The Swedish brand’s share of Recharge models — vehicles with fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrains — surged to 51 percent of June sales in California. Recharge models represented 20 percent of total sales in the U.S. last month.


There are some brands that just seem extremely ready to go all-electric. I’d put Volvo in that category, and I’d put a few other car companies in there, too.

4th Gear: Trump Was Preparing Tariffs On Imported Cars As Threat To National Security

I don’t know why this is coming out now when Trump is out of office, but it’s as good reminder that the dude is a petty nutjob. From Reuters:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department has released a confidential Trump administration report that was the basis for the former president’s threats in 2019 to impose tariffs on imported automobiles on grounds of national security.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2019 declared that some unidentified imported cars posed national security risks. He refused to release the report to Congress or the public, which prompted a lawsuit seeking its disclosure.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who drafted legislation to require the report’s release, said in a statement on Tuesday that “a quick glance confirms what we expected: The justification for these tariffs was so entirely unfounded that even the authors were too embarrassed to let it see the light of day.”

These would have been 25 percent tariffs.

Also entertaining is that the report mentioned “General Motors, Ford, and Tesla,” according to Reuters but “It did not include Chrysler which is part of Stellantis.”


Trump forgetting that Chrysler exists is entertaining, to me, or possibly they were just in cahoots.

5th Gear: Ex-UAW Official Sentenced To Year In Prison

The UAW corruption scandal is over, but like all American scandals it is, in fact, never-ending. Another official is set for prison time, as Automotive News reports:

Former UAW Regional Director Vance Pearson was sentenced Tuesday to a year in federal prison for conspiring to embezzle union funds and further racketeering activity with other high-ranking union officials.

The court recognized that Pearson played “a minor role but at the same time, it was active,” said U.S. District Judge Paul Borman. The court did not order Pearson to pay a fine.


Reverse: America Declares War On Nature Itself

By the 1930s, America was running out of people to go to war with. It had already completed its wars against the inhabitants of North America (Native Americans, the French, the British), its neighbors (the Spanish, Mexico), itself (the Civil War), and even a good chunk of Europe (Germany, Austro-Hungary, the Ottomans). Still a few years away from going to war in Asia, America declared war on its own landscape, damming as many rivers as conceivably possible. Our efforts to conquer nature have been a bit of a mixed bag.


Neutral: What Car Brand Is Most Ready For Going EV?

I am always amazed every time I see a Crosstrek Hybrid, a car less powerful than its non-hybrid version. Subaru buyers, I think, are just painfully ready for anything hybrid/all-electric/eco-oriented. Scoob could be moving EVs no problem, if you ask me.