September marked what green-car advocates were hoping was an inflection point in which US demand for hybrids and plug-ins were thought to be on the upswing.
And with Ford recording strong October hybrid and plug-in vehicle sales (the Blue Oval had delayed its monthly sales reporting this week because of a fire in the basement of the automaker’s Michigan headquarters), there are further signs that green-car sales are on the ever-so-slight upswing.
Americans in October bought more than 36,000 green vehicles, marking a 0.5 percent increase from a year earlier. With Tesla’s continuing annual gains as a bedrock of sorts, plug-in vehicle sales advanced about 31 percent to almost 12,000 units.
Ford offset some big sales issues with Toyota. Japan’s largest automaker sold 16,256 hybrids, plug-ins and (in limited numbers) fuel-cell vehicles, down 26 percent from a year earlier. Sales for the four Prius variants plunged 47 percent from a year earlier, while Camry and Avalon Hybrid sales were down 29 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
Hampered already by the stop-sale of its diesel vehicles, Volkswagen also had a down month for its e-Golf, where sales dropped 32 percent to 407 units. Overall, VW lost 58 percent of its green-car sales, diesels included.
And German brethren BMW also continues to lag via its i sub-brand of plug-in vehicles. While the i8 plug-in hybrid sales rose 34 percent to 199 units, i3 electric vehicle sales fell 55 percent to 442 units. Overall, Bimmer’s green-car sales declined 44 percent to just 641 units.
Offsetting these losses were General Motors, Nissan, and, believe it or not, Honda. GM’s Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in saw a 7.7 increase in sales to 2,191 units, while Chevrolet Spark EV sales advanced 47 percent to 269 vehicles. Overall, GM’s green-car sales rose 14 percent to 1,412 vehicles.
And with Nissan going up against easier comparable numbers from last year, the Leaf EV had a 14 percent increase in sales to 1,412 units.
Finally, Honda benefitted as its Accord Hybrid sales almost tripled from a year earlier to 1,296 units. Overall, Honda’s green-car sales rose 16 percent from a year earlier to 1,491 units.
Year-to-date, green-car sales are down 17 percent from a year earlier to about 358,000 vehicles, while plug-in vehicle sales have jumped 20 percent to almost 100,000 vehicles.