US registrations for new hybrid vehicles rose to 83,153 in 2004 – an 81% increase from 2003 according to R. L. Polk & Co.

The Toyota Prius recorded 53,761 new registrations in 2004, a 33% increase over 2003. The Prius takes 64% of the hybrid market, a sizeable lead over the Honda Civic, which had 25,586 registrations and 31% market share. Since the introduction of hybrid vehicles in 2000, the market has grown by more than 960%.

“Expectations of continuing high gas prices, combined with the introduction of new models to the consumer market, have heightened interest in hybrid vehicles,” said Lonnie Miller, director of Polk’s Analytical Solutions.

The range of hybrid vehicle choices in the US continues to expand. In addition to the Prius; Honda Civic, Accord and Insight, and Ford Escape, several new hybrid models were introduced in the past few months including the Dodge Ram, Lexus RX 400h and the Mercury Mariner. The 2006 model year will see the introduction of a hybrid version of the Saturn VUE, Toyota Highlander and the Nissan Altima. Major manufacturers are planning a total of almost a dozen new hybrid vehicles in the next three years.

California strongly outpaces all other states in new hybrid registrations. In 2004 there were 25,021 new hybrid vehicle registrations in California, about 4.5 times that of second place Virginia with 5,613. Washington came in third with 3,441; Florida came in fourth with 3,272 and Maryland rounds out the top five with 3,238 new hybrid vehicle registrations in 2004.

Similarly, Los Angeles remains the top metropolitan area for hybrid vehicles with 10,399 new hybrid vehicle registrations in 2004, more than doubling the total from 2003. San Francisco came in second at 8,051 followed by Washington DC with 6,473 new hybrid vehicle registrations. New York came in fourth at 3,779 followed by Seattle with 2,857 new hybrid vehicle registrations in 2004. Each of these markets experienced significant growth in the number of new hybrid vehicle registrations compared with the previous year, a confirmation of the robust strength of this new vehicle segment.