Last month, the U.S. automotive industry experienced its weakest August sales since 1983. Overall, sales dropped off nearly 21 percent from the numbers recorded during the Cash-for-Clunkers-boosted month of August 2009. In addition, sales of hybrids tanked, dropping by 40.4 percent this August compared a year ago and even the vaunted Toyota Prius couldn't escape the automotive industry's woes.
With the industry suffering, we'd expect sales of clean diesel vehicles to follow suit, but that's simply not the case. Clean diesel vehicles recorded a 52-percent increase in year-over-year sales and experienced a 20-percent boost in sales volume for August as compared to the numbers reported in July. Whereas sales of the Prius fell off by some 37.5 percent, the quintessential clean diesel, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, fared amazingly well with a year-over-year increase of nearly 30 percent. Though year-to-date sales of clean diesel models (48,275 units) still fall well short of hybrids (178,754 units), the gap is slowly shrinking.