Any hypermiler will tell you that a fierce tailwind will do wonders for fuel economy. The same could probably apply for U.S. sales of advanced-powertrain vehicles.

Continuing high gas prices, a broadening array of hybrid and electric-drive vehicles and figures from a year earlier that were constrained by supply issues stemming from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan pushed May U.S. alt-fuel vehicle sales far above numbers from last year, though they were slightly lower than April sales.

Automakers sold almost 46,000 advanced-powertrain vehicles last month, up about 83 percent from May 2011 but down from about 49,000 units in April.

Automakers sold almost 46,000 advanced-powertrain vehicles last month, up about 83 percent from May 2011 but down from about 49,000 units in April (note: there were 26 selling days in May 2012 versus 24 selling days in May 2011). While usual suspect Toyota Prius led the charge, sales of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in were also strong, General Motors' mild hybrid models such as the Buick LaCrosse eAssist boosted demand and the Mitsubishi i battery-electric set a monthly record. Ford also finally reported sales of its Focus Electric, which actually hit the market last December. Such models more than offset less-than-stellar sales of the Nissan Leaf and a continuing plunge in demand in Ford and Honda hybrids.

The Prius, whose sales were hit hard last year by the Japan disaster, tripled its year-earlier sales to 21,477 units, with the Prius C compact and Prius V wagon accounting for about 3,600 units each. The Prius Plug-In moved 1,086 units, which was a 34 percent drop from April but still made the model the best second-best plug-in in the U.S. Toyota's non-Prius hybrids like the Camry and Highlander more than tripled their year-earlier sales, while Lexus hybrid sales were up 86 percent from May 2011. Overall, Toyota and Lexus moved a combined 29,069 hybrids, accounting for 63 percent of U.S. alt-fuel sales.

GM is already about 600 units short of matching Chevy Volt sales for all of last year.

Also coming up big was GM, who saw the Chevy Volt more than triple sales from a year earlier to 1,680 units and is already about 600 units short of matching its sales for all of last year. GM's eAssist mild-hybrid models like the Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal and Chevy Malibu moved about 3,000 vehicles. In all, GM sold 4,919 hybrids and plug-ins, easily making it the No. 2 advanced-powertrain vehicle seller, after Toyota.

Meanwhile, Mitsibushi sold a record 85 i battery-electrics, while Volkswagen's sales of 7,847 clean-diesel vehicles marked a 21 percent jump from a year earlier and more than offset the performance of its Audi division, whose sales of 558 diesels accounted for a 21 percent drop compared to May 2011.

Falling behind Toyota and GM were Nissan, Ford and Honda. Nissan moved 510 Leafs, and continues to claim this performance – sales were down 55 percent from a year earlier – is due to a lack of supply stemming from the automaker's transition to moving Leaf production to Tennessee. Ford did sell six Focus Electrics in May and finally revealed that it's sold 16 of the battery-electrics since last December. On the gas-powered side of the ledger, the Ford Escape Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid sales dropped 82 percent and 46 percent from a year earlier, while Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sales were down 14 percent. Overall, Ford and Lincoln hybrid sales dropped 53 percent to 1,375 vehicles.

Finally, Honda matched Ford with its own 53 percent drop from a year earlier to 1,516 hybrid sales. The Honda Civic Hybrid showed year-over-year gains for the fourth straight month, more than doubling May sales from a year earlier to 708 units. But that advance was more than offset by CR-Z and Insight sales, which fell 81 percent and 64 percent from a year earlier, respectively.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      SVX pearlie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Interesting points: 1. Volt outsells Malibu ECO. 2. GM is #2 in the hybrid / EV space, behind long-established Toyota, almost entirely on the strength of eAssist 3. Ford seems to have given up, but interesting to note that they found 6 suckers to buy FFE. Assume these are Utilities which bought them as fleet demonstrators. 4. Honda Insight / CRV is a disaster. Diesel should be removed form the list. It's still pure pump. 3.
        Naturenut99
        • 6 Months Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        I just looked up the Honda CRZ. I think I know why they are not doing so well. CRZ: 35 city - 39 hwy for 19k - 21k also only 2 seats Prius C: 53 city - 46 hwy but 5 seats ( I would assume not comfortably with 3 in back) at similar price. And I'm sure it doesnt fare well against other cars also. I cant believe it didnt even get to 40 mpg...??? Its almost like they are trying to fail.
        Rotation
        • 6 Months Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Ford doesn't have a very good un-oil answer right now. The Fusion is a pretty good hybrid though. And the upcoming Energis could be good. Ford says they will make over 100MPGe, that means they have a pure electric mode. If that pure electric mode spans up to full speed and acceleration (like the Volt, unlike the Prius PHEV) it could mean the availability of a vehicle as good as the Volt or better and without the weird looks and crummy rear seat layout.
          Spec
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          I suspect the Energi cars will be closer to the Plug-In Prius than the Volt. But I hope they are at least somewhere in the middle such that they have a decent sized battery.
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Ford has the C-Max stuff coming out. So they are kind of 'between' hybrid lines right now. But, yeah, LOL at the FFE.
      Rick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mmmm no diesel truck sales in the USA in May?
      Jesse Gurr
      • 3 Years Ago
      They still don't have the numbers for the civic natural gas? Does honda just not report that anymore? They didn't mention it for April either. What's going on with that? I wonder if they lump it in with all civics, but they point out the civic hybrid, why not the GX?
      MTN RANGER
      • 3 Years Ago
      Even my kid back in kindergarten did better with coloring than this.
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      Overall, a nice improvement in alternative choices vs traditional ICE. With the hike in gas prices there are a lot more looking for better alternatives. I can't wait to see the numbers for next year at this time.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I believe you intended to shade the Chevy Volt boxes in GREEN, not red, as it is a positive number.
      Smurf
      • 3 Years Ago
      In 18 months, Chevy Volt moves up to number 2 alternative vehicle, surpassing all hybrids except the Prius. That is significant progress in 18 months, especially considering the political smear campaign against the Volt since it was launched. Very impressive........
        MTN RANGER
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Smurf
        Especially since the Volt has only been on sale nationwide since last December (6 months).
      westbrooks01
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow! What great numbers! I am VERY excited to see that Chevy only has to sell 600 more Volts to break their record from last year! Congratulations Chevy!
      Anne
      • 3 Years Ago
      The labeling of diesel as an 'alternative drivetrain' continues to amaze me.
      GoodCheer
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't understand the color scheme. It seems totally random. Sad Face.
        GoodCheer
        • 6 Months Ago
        @GoodCheer
        My favorite: Zero sales to zero sales. Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid; Zero to zero is #DIV/0! (Red) Porsche Panamera Hybrid; Zero to zero is "na" (no color) Porsche Total; Zero to zero is #DIV/0! (Green) Honda Accord Hybrid; Zero to zero is 0.00% (Green) Honda FCX Clarity; Zero to zero is 0.00% (Red)
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @GoodCheer
        Yeah, that spreadsheet is all sorts of messed up. It lists "May-12" twice. It has things that should be green shown in red. Etc.
      CR7
      • 3 Years Ago
      ----- 4th column should be "Apr-2012" instead of "May-2012", no? ----- Can Autoblog / Autobloggreen change the significance of the percent change to whole numbers? Does anyone care that the Volt's MoM change was +249.27% instead of +249%? The chart would be so much more easier to read / quickly interpret. Thanks for these data!
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @CR7
        I think it is supposed to be May 2011. ?
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      If leaf and imiev sales are low, what will happen with the new tesla model s.
        Rotation
        • 6 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Well, at the price that thing is, the sales won't be high, that's for sure. But they should be able to move at least 3,000 cars this year. That's not too bad.
          MTN RANGER
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Tesla will have no problem this year. All the initial 5000 Model S are spoken for. Next year with expanded production will be the real test.
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