Bad news for U.S. consumers turned into good news for sellers of advanced-powertrain vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Chevrolet Volt, as higher gas prices drove a near doubling of August alt-fuel U.S. vehicle sales compared to numbers from 2011.

Domestic hybrid, electric vehicle and diesel-powered vehicle sales last month rose 96 percent from a year earlier to 49,450 units, the largest single-month total since automakers sold more than 57,000 alt-fuel vehicles in March. The year-over-year growth rate for alt-fuel vehicle sales had slowed to 66 percent in July.

Summer fuel price spikes appeared to be a primary factor in getting consumers to consider buying more fuel-efficient vehicles. Regular gas prices neared their April highs and rose to an average of roughly $3.83 a gallon on September 1, up from about $3.73 a month earlier and from $3.43 two months earlier, according to AAA. Gas prices were at about $3.60 a year ago.

Toyota, as usual, was the primary beneficiary, more than doubling its alt-fuel vehicle sales to 28,960 units.

Toyota, as usual, was the primary beneficiary, more than doubling its alt-fuel vehicle sales to 28,960 units. Prius sales were up 122 percent compared to August 2011, as the new Prius C compact, Prius V wagon and Prius Plug-in allowed the nameplate to put some distance from its year-earlier figures. Both the Prius C compact and Prius V wagon continued to sell in the 3,300 to 3,500 monthly unit range, selling 3,428 and 3,325 sales, respectively, while Toyota sold 1,047 Prius Plug-ins. Sales of non-Prius Toyota hybrids like the Camry and Highlander Hybrids surged almost eightfold to 4,289 units, while Lexus hybrid sales were up 9.9 percent to 3,560.

GM moved 6,831 advanced-powertrain units in August, settling firmly in the No. 2 position for alt-fuel vehicle sales.

General Motors also appeared to benefit from the gas-price hike, selling a monthly-record number of Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-ins and increasing sales of mild hybrid vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Regal and Buick LaCrosse. The U.S. automaker, which sold just 401 hybrids a year earlier, moved 6,831 advanced-powertrain units in August, putting GM firmly in the No. 2 position for alt-fuel vehicle sales. The Volt's sales of 2,831 units beat the prior monthly record of 2,289 units in March. Meanwhile, GM sold 3,769 units of its mild-hybrid sedans, while the automaker's hybrid SUV sales more than doubled from a year earlier to 231 units.

U.S. diesel sales for Volkswagen also appeared to be bolstered by higher gas prices, as Europe's biggest automaker sold 8,776 diesels stateside, up 43 percent from 2011. That more than offset the impact of Audi, whose diesel sales fell 31 percent from a year earlier to just 584 vehicles.

Ford also sold 34 Focus Electric vehicles last month.

And even Ford, whose year-to-date hybrid sales had substantially lagged 2011 totals, got in on the act. The automaker boosted alt-fuel vehicle sales by 68 percent from a year earlier to 2,137 units, with Ford Fusion Hybrid boosting sales almost fivefold and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid doubling August 2011 sales figures. Ford also sold 34 Focus Electric vehicles last month.

Most notably missing out on the party was Nissan, whose sales of the battery-electric Leaf were cut in half from a year earlier to 685 units. Additionally, Mitsubishi, which sold a monthly high 85 units of its all-electric i model, continues to lag far behind that clip, moving 37 units last month.

Honda also continued to lose ground and saw its alt-fuel vehicle sales drop 27 percent from a year earlier to 1,322 units. While Civic Hybrid sales jumped more than fivefold, slumping demand for the CR-Z and Insight brought the overall numbers down. Honda, which recently began leasing a battery-electric version of the Fit on the West Coast, had record "sales" of 9 units last month.

Finally, Porsche hybrid sales in August fell 8.6 percent from a year earlier to 117 units.

Year-to-date, alt-fuel sales have climbed 63 percent from 2011 to more than 353,000 units, with Toyota alone representing about two-thirds of that total.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      sandos
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sweden sales for August, I think this is basically first month of real PiP availability so that surge might be expected: 104 PiP 10 Leafs 4 Ampera + 3 Volts 2 Citroen C-Zero 1 C30 Electric 0 iOn 0 iMiev 0 Smart ForTwo Electric
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      crap, I got cut off. Otherwise, the top PGA pro (sub-60) and weekend hacker (140+) are both shooting the same "close to 100", which makes no sense.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      1. Diesel Diesel cars are NOT green. Particulate emissions are still massive. Otherwise, I want to see Class III trucks like 6+l turbodiesels: Dodge Ram Cummins, Ford F-series, and GM Silvy / Sierra wtih class-leading Duramax engines. Those HD/SD work trucks save far more oil than a VW TDi ever will. And don't forget the Mercedes Sprinter diesels, either. OTOH, when that diesel engine is mated to an eAssist / HSD / dual-mode drivetrain, then wake me up. 2. Hybrids With that off my chest, hybrids are doing just fine as usual: 28k Toyota / Lexus HSD 3k GM eAssist 2k Ford 1k Honda IMA GM's eAssist is paying off in a big way. Yes, it's the mildest hybrid on the road, but numbers don't lie - the relatively low marginal cost (leveraging by actual -gasp- volume) and complete lack of sacrifices in daily usage let it beat the pants off Ford and Honda. I wonder how an eAssist Spark would do (probably awesomely well in the city), whether eAssist will become standard on the upcoming Buick Encore (it should), and whether the 2013 Enclave was modified under the metal to accept eAssist (expensive, but a surefire hit). Passed a Porsche Panamera S Hybrid this morning. I thought the "hybrid" badge was a joke, like a HUMMER hybrid. I guess not. I guess if I were a 1%er who wanted to greenwash my $100k, that's a damn good way to do it. 3. Plug-ins 2,831 Volt 1,047 PIP 685 Leaf 35 MIEV 34 FFE 9 Fit EV = 4,643 total First off, look at that total. It's not the 5k that some were wishing for, but it's a *very* good number, handliy beating the previous high water mark (3,818 in Mar '12). Heck, it's *almost* matching Hamtramck's Volt/Ampera production, and a tiny whisker over the number of non-WRX Impreza Subaru sold (4719). As usual, the Volt rules the roost by a wide margin, and this month was impressive, indeed. Yes, the numbers were goosed by GM putting some serious incentive money on the table as dealer kickbacks ($2500 per car sold in August, if hitting quarterly goal), but GM still moved the metal. Unthinkable that any current Plug-In is going to top that for a while (tho December should be *very* interesting). The PIP broke its slide, selling over 1+k cars to close the summer - a feat not seen since May. Expect
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        "Those HD/SD work trucks save far more oil than a VW TDi ever will." Source? Are you saying a HD truck can get over 40MPG like a VW can? I agree that diesels aren't inherently green. But I go out of my way to find Biodiesel... and running B80 or above, really cuts it down to reasonable levels (other than NOx). So it is a trade off. Not really too much cleaner than a mild hybrid, 1) but getting 45 mpg saves me a good amount of money, 2) I put lots of miles on it, 263k right now and it still runs great 3) I can out perform any Prius.. 4)... and the fuel is DOMESTIC. So it saves foreign petroleum imports. And NO, I don't put any food crop bio in my car. It is big hassle for only modest gains... certainly not for the masses. But I love it. And it works great for me :)
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        And you said "No way it'll be 4,500+." :P
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          If you do the math, 4,643 is closer to 4,500 than 5,000. Heck, it's closer to 4,500 than 4,800.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        I said "close to 5000" . . . and if you round up to the nearest thousand, it is 5000.
        wxman
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        "... Particulate emissions are still massive...." How do you know?
          wxman
          • 2 Years Ago
          @wxman
          So you're basing the amount of particulate emissions on your eyes? The inside of the tailpipe on my 2010 diesel vehicle is nearly as clean with 30,000 miles as it was when I drove it off the dealer lot with 3 miles on it. Nothing on the bumper either.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @wxman
          The eyes don't lie. Or the bumpers.
      TPGIII
      • 2 Years Ago
      It still surprises me to see diesels and hybrids as alternate fuel vehicles. Flex Fuel vehicles are more alternate fuel than diesel and most hybrids use the same gas, just less of it. But also, why are only some diesels alt fuel? There are many other diesels on the market than appear on this list.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TPGIII
        No idea. Diesel is as alt-fuel as coal is. Maybe it's just because ABG can get those figures easily. I can't see any other explanation why they would list Diesel as alt-fuel. Heck the natural gas Civic GX is at least as alt as a Diesel is.
          sandos
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Im guessing the reason for considering diesel as alt-fuel is high mpg. In Sweden cars are simply ordered by CO2 levels, which means many diesels are classified as "environmental cars" due to being < 120g/km.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Considering how "fracking" actually works, I'm inclined to think it as less green than leaded gasoline.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Yeah, regular diesel vehicles should not be considered Alt-fuel. Only diesel vehicles that can be rated for more than 50% of biodiesel... should be considered Flex-fuel at least. Problem is, I don't think any new vehicle has that rating from the manufacturer. My car is allowed 20%... but I made some mods :)
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you want to play word games, sure. I interpret "close to 5000" as 4800-5000, which is why I suggested "closer to 4,500". Otherwise, the top PGA pro (
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm seeing more Honda Insight hybrids on the road in Pennsylvania. Are Pennsylvania Honda Dealers the only ones who know how to sell this car?
      brotherkenny4
      • 2 Years Ago
      Squirrels are said to have no memory of near death experiences. Presumably this allows them to continue to do what they need to exist without such levels of fear that would they be prevented from accomplishing the daily tasks they need to. Like finding the occasional nut. I believe many humans are similar in that they have no memory of suffering. They seem to forget rather quickly that they were once suffering under high gasoline prices, and revert back to the type of behavior that makes them susceptible to that suffering again. They appear also to not have very long term memories, such as for instance, when they forget that the price of gasoline has risen steadily over the last 50 years. They appear to have the expectation that the price will go down. It also appears to me like there is this collective consciousness in humans that says we must push our situations to the point of pain, or we will not feel alive, or some othe irrational thing I can't quite fathom. Anyway, it appears to me that is the situation with the majority of people. Suffering is what they appear to want. I suppose it's the guilt of pleasure or some other silly thing typically precribed by the religious cults.
        krona2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        Generally people probably do expect oil prices to go back down since they always have done in the past. The mainstream media and governments are not really trying to indicate that it's probably different this time, but my own feeling is that it is indeed different this time!
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        This radical right wing extremist (starve children yay!) generally agrees with what you say, simply because I am cheap, and would rather spend less in gas, regardless of the price. Luckily, I have a company car, so I never have to pay for gas myself. That said... The question would be is, why do people like SUV's so much? My Obama supporting Lesbian Sister got a Ford Escape a while back (the previous model). She had owned Honda's, a Mercedes (junk), and a Volvo, then got the escape. Loves it, says she will never get another 'car' but just SUV's. Her wife (husband? Life partner?) owns a Chevy Avalanche. Th life partner is a stolen election, Michele Obama's arms are hot, the rich don't pay their fair share lefty type, and drives that behemoth. Ironically, if I needed to buy a car, it would be a Volt (well, a lease), or a Prius C. The point is, it would not hurt to figure out why people buy these things, and figure out ways to package that allure into a sedan. Those are two examples of extreme left wing types (unlike me, they care about the environment, and don't want to kill all life on the planet) who bought, and love SUV's. I would personally be curious to learn of all the reasons...
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          "why do people like SUV's so much?" Because they are big inside, so they can carry stuff more easily. Americans like big and they like stuff, and big stuff is an extra plus. And then we need to haul our stuff about. So we want something that hauls all of our stuff with room to spare. Very simple when you get down to it. Or, they have a foreseen need to carry 6+ people, some of the time, but not so often that they need a sliding door minivan most of the time.
          Fgergergrergr
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          @EZEE Did you read all of what paul said "Many people advocate environmental conservation but are unwilling to personally sacrifice money or convenience to reduce consumption/pollution."
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          No surprising that the Volt has a mix of conservative and liberal owners. 43% Right vs 51% Left vs 6% apolitical in this poll: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?7466-Poll-Volt-buyer-political-leanings&highlight=political
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          @ggergergfe(etc) Yes, but the opening statement... I normally pick on libs that do not walk the walk, (especially when I do, with my ULEV Flex fuel vehicle), but in this case, the premise was, 'why don't they?'. All picking on Lib fun aside, I am genuinely curious as to the motivation of some with SUV's. Both my sister and her partner are fairly well off, so with the exception of marriage and healthcare (and maybe peer pressure), they are libs and environmental types, because they want to be. So why with the SUV's? For families, Mminivans are much more practical, and yet, those sales are in the tank. Why? Not that anyone takes their SUV off road now.... My point is, it would behoove us to answer this question, if we want people to try more practical vehicles. My company car (fusion) averages 30mpg. Ignore the Prius, but what if everyone's car did that good?
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          "Lesbians, dudes, women, minorities often have an irrational need to prove their "manhood/independence/empowerment" by driving large fuel guzzling smoke belching vehicles" @paul, that was pretty f*cking offensive. Even for an entitled het white d**chebag. If you want to spout off that kind of crap, please do so from the inside of a dark, crowded barroom, where those irrational people would have an opportunity to beat a little sense into a d-bag like you.
          American Refugee
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Maybe it ain't complicated. When you ride in an SUV or truck, you get a view that is similar to standing. When you are in a lower car, you get a view similar to sitting or reclining. When we are out in the world, as animals, we are inclined by nature to be alert and awake, aware of our surroundings. This would normally require being upright. It feels right to be more upright, because it's how we've always seen the world when we traveled. This upright perspective gives us the feeling of being aware and secure, on our feet if you will. It's not logic, it's biology.
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Lesbians, dudes, women, minorities often have an irrational need to prove their "manhood/independence/empowerment" by driving large fuel guzzling smoke belching vehicles. Many people advocate environmental conservation but are unwilling to personally sacrifice money or convenience to reduce consumption/pollution. Are conservatives less hypocritical because they advocate and practice environmental destruction? I rode my bike to work today, but I am a tiny minority.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Uhm.....I don't think those were the reasons my sister and her partner bought their respective SUV's. That's the point. We can attach labels on how EEEEEEEVILLLLLL they are, or try to figure out, without prejudice, the reasons. The guy in Hollywood that buys a hummer h1, yes. But the rest? I doubt my sister was trying to prove anything when she got the escape. After driving it, compared to a Honda, Mercedes, and Volvo, she said never again to a sedan. Why? That is the $10 question...
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        That comment is nuts! No squirrels I know are short sighted enough to drive SUVs!
        Ziv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        I have always pondered the thought that if natural selection actually worked, by now squirrels would be deathly afraid of pavement. And there would be so many of them that our towns would look like the USS Enterprise in the "Trouble with Tribbles" episode. The answer to the question that hasn't been asked is, "Brunswick Stew!"
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        Preach it, Brother Kenny!
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just in news SMMT... August 2012 UK Electric Car sales numbers EV sales 30 DOWN -11.8% (August 2011 UK EV sales 34) UK RWD Cortina sales nearly every August 33,000 to 55,000 Maybe whats needed is something like a awesome shaped Mk1 Cortina EV, it would still have the same range as a Leaf but with out the boring dull anodyne soulless shape sales sinking shape.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      All "Other" Toyota hybrids jumped 6 Times more. What are they?
      carney373
      • 2 Years Ago
      And as usual, this "alt fuel" list wrongly includes hybrids that don't plug in (and are thus entirely reliant on gasoline to move), and wrongly excludes flex fuel vehicles that can run on E85 ethanol, which is an alternative fuel by both common sense and federal law.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carney373
        Agree that Flex Fuel SUVs belong on the list, along with all large diesels.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Based on the downvotes, it appears that the Greentards are out in force, wanting particular inclusions and exclusions in reporting to fuel a political agenda, rather than following a consistent and transparent standard that treats all vehicles similarly. News at 11.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carney373
        It is true that in the arena of alternative fuel vehicles... how "alternative" they truly are, depends mostly on how the driver uses/fuels it. The same is said for a Volt owner. He can choose to never plug in and get less than 35 mpg by driving a bit aggressively. Even the Leaf can theoretically be dirtier than a Yaris if powered by a diesel generator or in a state with a high percent of coal power. Gone are the days of equivalent vehicles regardless of location. Gasoline vehicles can be given a generic MPG value for city and highway, and a driver won't deviate much by location. These are different times where a PHEV owner can get 35 MPG or 3500 MPG. A flex fuel owner can run 85% or 0%. Biodiesel too. Everything should be included!
        paulwesterberg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carney373
        Most "flex" fuel vehicles that can burn higher ethanol concentrations are never fueled with anything higher than the 10% ethanol blend that all cars can burn.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Most Diesels are never filled with anything other than fossil fuel and yet we see them right here on the list too.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      See . . . it is close to 5000 plug-ins sold in August. Adding up the plug-ins in that chart is 4643 and that doesn't include the Model S & orphaned Think City cars.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        No, it's close to 4,500 or 4,600. If you're using 4-digts to express a number, you cannot reasonably expect technical people to accept single-digit precision. The lowest reasonable precision for a 4-digit number less than 5,000 is increments of 500. Otherwise, if you want to be squishy, write "5k" instead of "5000".
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