November's US alternative-fuel vehicle sales remained steady relative to recent months as strong sales for Ford's C-Max hybrids and the all-electric Nissan Leaf offset the effect of lower Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid sales than October. Year-over-year growth rate slowed markedly because Toyota regained its normal hybrid sales pace about this time of year in 2011 after sales figures were hampered for much of last year by the effects of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which hindered supply.

November alt-fuel sales totaled 46,216 units, up 44 percent from 2011.

November alt-fuel sales totaled 46,216 units, up 44 percent from 2011 and about even with October's numbers. October sales were up 76 percent year-over-year, while September sales were about double those in September 2011. Automakers also sold 6,355 plug-ins in November, down from a monthly record 6,784 units in October but more than three times as many as they did in 2011.

Toyota continues to account for about half of the US alt-fuel market, boosting sales by 29 percent from a year earlier to 24,714. Much of that gain came from the Camry Hybrid, which upped sales fivefold from a year earlier to 3,936 units. Lexus hybrid sales rose 27 percent from November 2011 to 3,724 vehicles. The Prius increased unit sales by just 8.5 percent to 16,505 vehicles, as the world's best selling hybrid faced a stronger comparison from last year's numbers than it did in October. Prius V wagon sales fell 24 percent from a year earlier to 2,690 units.

Toyota's leadership may have been dented by Ford's rapid alt-fuel vehicle sales growth.

In fact, Toyota's leadership may have been dented by Ford and its rapid alt-fuel vehicle sales growth. The US automaker almost tripled year-earlier alt-fuel vehicle sales to 7,157 units. Ford's C-Max Hybrid has emerged as by far the company's biggest alt-fuel seller, outpacing sales of the competing Toyota Prius V to total 3,589 units and becoming the second-best selling US hybrid to the Prius hatchback version. And in its first full month of sales, the C-Max Energi PHEV sold 1,259 units, compared to the 1,766 units sold of the Prius Plug-in (which took the top plug-in vehicle spot in the US last month), while Fusion Hybrid sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 1,834 units. Even the Focus Electric had its best-ever month, with sales of 172 vehicles.

The Prius Plug-in took the top plug-in vehicle sales spot the US last month.

General Motors also came up big, more than doubling year-earlier alt-fuel sales to 3,854 units. While Chevrolet Volt sales were approximately cut in half from October, the model's 1,519 units sold represented a 33 percent increase from a year earlier, and the sales put the Volt over the 20,000-unit threshold for the year. GM mild hybrids such as the Buick LaCrosse and Regal and the Chevrolet Malibu continued to have big year-over-year gains, while GM's SUV and pickup hybrid sales were almost triple those in November 2011.

As for Nissan, the Japanese automaker, which had its second-best-ever sales month for the Leaf in October, nearly matched that total last month with 1,539 units sold, more than double a year earlier. For the year, Nissan continued to close the gap from last year's sales, as its 8,330 units sold are 4.5 percent less than November 2011's sales.

Eco-minded vehicles from German automakers also did well in November. Volkswagen clean-diesel vehicle sales surged 28 percent from a year earlier to 7,182 vehicles, while Audi boosted sales by six percent to 515 units. Porsche hybrid sales were up 5.4 percent to 175 units.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi sold 42 of its all-electric i vehicles, marking that model's best month since May.

Honda remained last month's only disappointment.

Honda remained last month's only disappointment, dropping sales totals by 33 percent from a year earlier to 1,038 units. While Civic Hybrid sales were up 5.4 percent from November 2011, CR-Z sales fell 20 percent while Insight hybrid sales plunged 68 percent. Honda also moved 26 units of the Fit EV.

For the year, US alt-fuel vehicles are on pace to have their first half-million-unit sales year, boosting the year-to-date total by 76 percent from a year earlier to 492,462 vehicles sold. Plug-in vehicle sales have exceeded 43,000, almost triple what was sold in 2011 through November.

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