For the second straight month – and the third out of the last four – U.S. alt-fuel sales in September doubled year-earlier totals as consumers gravitated towards advanced-powertrain vehicles. Monthly plug-in vehicle sales eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the first time ever because of record sales for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and near-record demand for the Toyota Prius Plug-In, while the Ford C-Max Hybrid wagon became that company's best-selling hybrid in just its first month of sales.

Monthly plug-in vehicle sales eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the first time ever.

Americans purchased 47,235 advanced-powertrain vehicles in September, up 99 percent from a year earlier. Year-over-year alt-fuel vehicle sales jumped 96 percent in August after slowing to a 66 percent growth clip in July. Alt-fuel vehicle sales more than doubled in June.

With gas prices staying above $3.70 a gallon since early August, according to AAA, buyers appear to have given in and are taking a closer look at fuel saving vehicles, especially those that can get by without any fuel at all. The Volt had record-high sales for the second straight month and moved 2,851 units, almost quadruple year-earlier figures.

Nissan had its best sales month of the year with its all-electric Leaf.

Meanwhile, Nissan had its best sales month of the year with its all-electric Leaf. The EV's sales of 984 units were down just 4.6 percent down from 2011 figures. Toyota's 1,652 Prius Plug-In sales were just two short of its monthly record in April, while the Ford Focus Electric moved 59 units, its second highest total of the year (89 were sold in June).

Add in the 36 Mitsubishi i EVs and 16 Honda Fit EVs sold, and 5,598 plug-in vehicles were sold last month, up from the previous monthly record of 4,643 EVs sold in August.

As for the automakers, Toyota remained the big dog, while General Motors and Ford also came up big winners. Toyota again more than doubled year-earlier sales to 26,747 vehicles, with the standard Prius hatchback moving 10,806 units and the Prius C compact and Prius V wagon selling 3,386 and 3,088 vehicles, respectively.

Toyota remained the big dog, while General Motors and Ford also came up big winners.

Non-Prius Toyota hybrid sales surged ninefold to 4,178 units from just 447 vehicles in September 2011, when consumers were held off on buying the Camry Hybrid in favor of waiting for the updated version to debut following month. Lexus hybrid sales rose 55 percent to 3,637 units.

Ford hybrid sales benefited from the debut of the C-Max Hybrid wagon, which moved 969 units in September. Ford Fusion Hybrid sales jumped 63 percent from a year earlier, while Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sales rose 72 percent, both offsetting an 86 percent drop in Ford Escape Hybrid sales. Overall, Ford hybrid and EV sales increased 77 percent from a year earlier to 2,788 vehicles.

Meanwhile, General Motors continued to get a push from both record Volt sales and sales of mild-hybrid models such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal eAssist lines. GM sold 5,949 alt-fuel vehicles in September, up sixfold from a year earlier.

On a smaller scale, Porsche hybrid sales rose 52 percent from September 2011 to 170 units.

Stubbornly high gas prices also appeared to drive sales of diesel models from German automakers. Volkswagen diesel sales rose 42 percent from a year earlier to 8,685 vehicles, while Audi diesel sales increased 63 percent to 786 units.

In fact, the only automaker to take a hit in alt-fuel sales last month was Honda. The Japanese automaker sold 1,090 hybrids and EVs, down 20 percent from a year earlier. A 61-percent jump in Civic Hybrid sales was more than offset by a 38-percent drop in CR-Z sales and a 52-percent plunge in Insight sales.

Year-to-date, alt-fuel sales are up 66 percent to 400,222 units. Toyota's hybrid sales for the first nine months of the year are twice as high as they were in 2011, while GM's alt-fuel sales have jumped more than sixfold.



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  • 31 Comments
      American Refugee
      • 2 Years Ago
      Of course they should. But it is, as they say, a good problem to have.
      American Refugee
      • 2 Years Ago
      All true, but as the post above mentions, we can add at least 200 Model S deliveries in September to these numbers, provisionally of course.
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      We know of one Fisker sold to Cee Lo. For Tesla we can say 200-ish or put an * next to the number. Tesla Model S 200* :) Interestingly the Model S's were actually sold in 2008 so how can you count that? Paid off a couple months ago. Built and delivered in September but actually sold four years ago. No wonder they aren't on the list. They'd need a lot of asterisks... ;-)
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tesla refuses to release monthly delivery numbers because you will have people over-analyzing month to month variation of deliveries that does not reflect demand (although they will assume it does). This will be especially true as they are ramping up production. The number that actually measures demand are the month by month reservations.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      @Jake, that is a very poor reason not to be transparent in an industry which expects and follows a certain level of transparency. People and analysts *should* be discussing the merits and risks based on accurate facts and data. If there are special factors, then Tesla should announce them, just like any other legitimate OEM would.
      Vlad
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazing growth. And most people still believe that electric mobility is a thing of the future. Imagine what kind of sales will we see when it enters mainstream consciousness that the future is now.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vlad
        The Volt doing well today bodes well for the Volt 2.0 and similar offerings in 2-3 years, when people are looking to buy their next car.
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I actually think the regular C-Max hybrid will eventually make a dent in the Prius hybrid dominance. As much as people complain about Ford not bringing an ICE-only C-Max to our shores like in Europe, I think they were smart to make a dedicated alternative energy car line. The C-Max is only just starting to hit dealers. A friend of mine just bought a Prius and I begged him to go look at the C-Max but he did not want to bother. I think once word, advertising, and supply get out there, the C-Max hybrid will take off.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Fantastic!!
      Jesse Gurr
      • 2 Years Ago
      I actually found some numbers for the Civic Natural Gas car sales for last month. It was pegged at 130. Disappointing to say the least. I thought it would be more. I wonder if it has something to do with it not being advertised. Or most likely its price, starts at $26,305.Someone should come out with a NG hybrid. That would be cool. http://www.hybridcars.com/news/september-2012-dashboard-53157.html
        Jesse Gurr
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jesse Gurr
        Although it did have 579 in August. But the total YTD is still less than 900.
      EVdriver
      • 2 Years Ago
      Honda FCX Clarity: - Sep-11: 1 - Sep-12: 0 - YTD2011: 1 - YTD2012: 3 LOL! :) "Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, and always will be" ;)
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EVdriver
        Assuming that the FCX is only sold for one city (Irvine, to use the UCI facility), it's not so terrible. ;)
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hi, we would like to place a guest post at your blog on any subject that you need, for example “Top 10 most powerful cars of 2012” or “The most powerful motorcycles of all times” etc. At this post we would like to place a website link, the subject of the website is salvage cars from American auto auction. If you’re interested in dealing with us, please write to xebracing@yahoo.com
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      You need to add Tesla, Coda, and Fisker numbers to know if other months have been over 5,000. But at least it is going in the right direction.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        The problem is that Tesla, Fisker and Coda refuse to report consistent with industry norms (sales per calendar / selling month). Looking at the past 20-odd months of sales, August was 4,750 and March was 3,940 (both months driven by Volt sales, of course). Fisker claims 1000 cars YtD, but that's probably global and a rough estimate - there's no hard numbers there, no way to determine how much was USDM. Tesla is similarly opaque. It is entirely conceivable that August was actually over 5,000, but there's no way to know for sure until Fisker and Tesla provide month-by-month breakouts of US deliveries per industry standard practice.
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