"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

The classic couplet from the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" applies to April's alt-fuel vehicle sales, as Toyota not only continued to dominate the hybrid market, but also shoved aside the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf in plug-in vehicle sales. Last month, Toyota sold 1,654 Prius Plug-in Hybrids. That total beat the 1,462 Volts sold and dominated the Leaf's 370 units sold in April.

The new Prius variant's popularity also helped Toyota easily continue its reign as the most popular seller of alt-fuel vehicles to the U.S. while helping push total alt-fuel sales far beyond year-earlier figures despite the fact that last month's 24 selling days were three fewer than the 27 selling days in April 2011.

Overall U.S. sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and diesel-powered vehicles jumped more than 50 percent from a year earlier to almost 50,000 vehicles, as Americans stepped up alt-fuel sales to cope with continually high gas prices.

Coming off its most successful single month of sales since its introduction to the U.S. in 2000, the Prius doubled its April sales from a year earlier. The "standard" Prius Liftback sales increased 26 percent from a year earlier, while the Prius C compact and Prius V wagon moved 4,006 and 3,847 units, respectively.

That success carried through to other Toyota-produced models, as non-Prius Toyota hybrids (i.e. the Camry and Highlander) tripled sales from a year earlier, likely because of the upgraded Toyota Camry Hybrid that debuted late last year. And Lexus hybrid sales were up 4.5 percent to 2,467 units. Overall, Toyota and Lexus hybrid sales doubled from a year earlier to 32,593 vehicles and, as usual, accounted for about two-thirds of the U.S. alt-fuel market.

Toyota and Lexus hybrids appeared to gain favor with U.S. consumers looking to save money amid gas prices that, until last month, had been rising all year. Regular gas prices jumped to about $3.90 a gallon in early April, up from about $3.35 at the beginning of the year, before tapering off to about $3.80 a gallon this week, according to AAA.

The effect of gas prices on sales of alt-fuel vehicles from other automakers ran the gamut. General Motors followed a monthly-record March for its Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in with 1,462 sales in April, almost triple year-earlier figures. Factoring in mild-hybrid models such as the Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal and Chevy Malibu eAssist-powered vehicles, GM's alt-fuel sales jumped fivefold to 4,500 units.

Volkswagen, which hasn't jumped into the electric-drive market yet, boosted its clean diesel sales by 35 percent from a year earlier to 7,993 units. On a smaller scale, Porsche increased its hybrid sales by 22 percent from a year earlier to 130 vehicles, while the Mitsubishi i battery-electric moved 79 models, hitting its monthly U.S. record for the third straight month.

Not faring so well were Nissan, Honda and Ford. Nissan sold 370 Leafs in April, marking a 35-percent drop from a year earlier and a 36-percent decline from March.

Honda's Civic Hybrid sales jumped sixfold to 766 units, but that wasn't enough to offset a plunge in both CR-Z and Insight sales. Overall, Honda hybrid sales dropped 60 percent from a year earlier to 1,839 vehicles.

As for Ford, hybrid sales plunged 59 percent from a year earlier to 1,175 vehicles, as the automaker discontinued the Escape Hybrid and had sales declines for both the Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. That said, Ford is on the verge of introducing its Focus Electric to the U.S., so things could get real interesting right quick.



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  • 38 Comments
      Jesse Gurr
      • 2 Years Ago
      What about honda civic natural gas? Last I checked, that was still commercially available. You would think that honda would be eager to report those numbers.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jesse Gurr
        Good point! What are the Civic NGV sales? I'd like to know. Hopefully they are going up.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      GM sold more than 5x as many "alt" vehicles as last year is pretty good evidence of the General finally getting things moving. Nice.
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am surprised the Prius C did sell more than that. When did the go on sale. Are they still supply limited?
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        Yeah, I'm pretty sure they sold every one they built and they still have a long wait list.
          Michael
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          There are 3 sitting on lots in my area (suburbs of Philadelphia).
      skierpage
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey ABG, it's nice you're using Google Docs-now-Google Drive, but click on the tab for the empty "Sheet2" and delete it!
      winc06
      • 2 Years Ago
      They did not mention that the successor to the Ford Fusion has already been announced with pictures. Last model year cars do not usually sell well. And Toyota has a brand new Camry hybrid which competes with the Ford already out that is much improved over the previous lack luster model. We will see what happens when the new Fusion hybrid is released.
      marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I realise that diesel cars are a relative novelty in the US, but to describe a fossil fuel as 'alternate fuel' is just wrong! CNG,LPG, possibly, but diesel ?
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        If we're counting Diesel as "alt fuel", how come we aren't counting the Chevy, GMC, Ford Diesel trucks?
      upstategreenie
      • 2 Years Ago
      it was awesome that ford pseudo hybrid escape sold ZERO....volt is number two because GOP collectively grew a brain and realized all of a sudden that chevy dealers are primarily republican. and then flip flopped and just love the volt! in US the right thing to do is always dictated, not by moral imperative. but by party label!
      JamesJ
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Chevrolet Volt has outsold all of Ford's hybrids combined.
        oollyoumn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JamesJ
        And even if you subtract out all versions of the Prius and all Lexus hybrids, Toyota sold more Hybrids than all of GM's hybrids combined.
        Michael
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JamesJ
        All 3 of Ford's hybrids are in the last year before a major refresh that has already been announced. Why would anyone buy a Fusion (Lincoln MKZ) Hybrid 2012 model right now unless they don't like what the 2013 looks like? As for the Escape, they are dropping the Hybrid next year because they found a way to get better fuel economy with their Eco-Boost and start-stop than they were getting with the hybrid drive.
          Vlad
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Michael
          That's telling something about their hybrid drive, isn't it?
          skierpage
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Michael
          The 2013 Ford Escape 2.5L FWD gets at best 25 combined mpg (22 city, 31 highway). The discontinued 2012 Escape Hybrid FWD gets *32* combined (34 city, 31 highway). The 2013 2.0L EcoBoost is the same, actually slightly *worse* highway mpg. The EPA hasn't published the mpg for the 1.6L yet, I doubt it will beat the city mpg. Also there's no evidence the Ford Escape comes with stop-start. The discontinued Escape Hybrid had the best mpg of any AWD car and the best mpg of any fat bloated car, I mean CUV/SUV/SUX. I believe Ford got the e-CVT transmissions from Japan and was constrained or price or supply or both. Perhaps the new e-CVT Ford is building in the USA for the Fusion hybrid and plug-in hybrid Energi versions is incompatible with AWD, or perhaps Ford will still be constrained on production, because otherwise it makes no sense that Ford would stop making the Escape Hybrid.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Michael
          There's no way, without a battery, to beat a hybrid [ unless you're an EV ]. You can't store energy and use it to climb hills or accelerate.
      Kai F. Lahmann
      • 2 Years Ago
      There seams to be a fault in the Prius calculation for YTD, as all cars sold in the first quarter are counted as liftbacks, but they aren't. So the top 10 YTD are: 1) Toyota Prius Liftback: 59094 2) Toyota Camry: 15676 3) Toyota Prius v: 15475 4) Toyota Prius c: 8881 5) Hyundai Sonata: 6814 6) Lexus CT: 6508 7) Chevrolet Volt: 5377 8) Buick LaCrosse: 4311 9) Ford Fusion: 3508 10) Kia Optima: 3507 If everybody keeps their pace, the Volt keeps it's place among cars which are a lot cheaper.
      mustang_sallad
      • 2 Years Ago
      FCX Clarity sales increased INFINITY percent!! The hydrogen revolution is here!!!!
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mustang_sallad
        It has been a long time coming . . . but the day has arrived. I, for one, welcome our fuel cell overlords.
      porosavuporo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Worldwide numbers and relative positions look very very different.
        spw
        • 2 Years Ago
        @porosavuporo
        you mean worldwide, 90% of hybrids and phevs are Toyota's?
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Honda really destroyed their Insight brand. Poor Mitsubishi-i gets no respect.
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Mitsubishi as a brand overall doesn't get much respect in the US. Their only worthwhile car for most people is the Lancer Evo.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        The only reason the MIEV looks bad is because the FFE isn't on the list.
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