So far, 2013 has been a Happy New Year indeed for green-vehicle advocates. January's US alt-fuel vehicle sales jumped about 57 percent from 2012 numbers on continued strong demand for the Toyota Prius and a surge in Ford's hybrids and plug-ins.

Americans bought 42,000 advanced powertrain vehicles in January, up from 26,000 vehicles in 2012.

With gas prices in January rising about 20 cents a gallon to their highest levels since October, Americans bought about 42,000 advanced powertrain vehicles in January, up from about 26,000 vehicles a year earlier. Plug-in vehicle sales rose even faster, more than doubling from January 2012 to 3,375 units, not including low-volume models such as the Tesla Model S electric vehicle and Fisker Karma extended-range plug-in.

Remarkably, these gains were achieved without the benefit of strong demand for either the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf, which both had sales surges towards the end of last year. Volt sales, while almost doubling from a year earlier to 1,140 units, fell sharply in January from the model's monthly average of almost 2,400 units during the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, in January, Nissan Leaf sales declined 3.8 percent from a year earlier to just 650 units.

Coming to the rescue was Ford.

Coming to the rescue was Ford, which said last week that it sold more than 5,000 alt-fuel vehicles in January. The automaker actually undersold its public estimate and boosted January sales almost fivefold from a year earlier to 5,949 units. The Ford Fusion Hybrid, which won Green Car Journal's Green Car of the Year award last November, has established itself as the second-best selling US hybrid to the Prius, selling 3,043 units. Ford also sold 2,387 C-Max Hybrids and 338 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Toyota continued to serve as the monthly barometer for alt-fuel vehicle sales.

Toyota continued to serve as the monthly barometer for alt-fuel vehicle sales, increasing its unit count by 53 percent to 24,232 vehicles last month. Prius sales rose 36 percent from a year earlier as an increase in standard hatchback sales more than offset a slight decline in demand for the Prius V wagon. Meanwhile, sales of the Camry Hybrid and hybrids within Toyota's Lexus luxury badge each jumped more than 70 percent from a year earlier.

General Motors also fared well by almost doubling its alt-fuel sales from a year earlier to 2,997 units, though much of that gain was attributable to the fact that Chevrolet Malibu eAssist sales didn't start in earnest until last February. Buick Regal eAssist sales almost tripled from a year earlier, while sales of the Buick LaCrosse eAssist were down 26 percent.

Even Mitsubishi got into the act, increasing sales of its i EV by more than sevenfold from a year earlier to a monthly record 257 units. Dealers appeared to be taking a more aggressive approach to moving the four-doors off of their lots, with one Illinois dealer running a promotion that offered to lease out the vehicles for as little as $69 a month.

Mitsubishi sold a record 257 i electric vehicles last month.

Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, also appeared to benefit from rising US gas prices, increasing sales of its clean-diesel models in January by 15 percent from a year earlier to 5,513 units.

Pulling January numbers down were Honda, Audi and Porsche, though Honda appears on the verge of ending its streak of lower year-over-year hybrid sales with the recent introduction of the Accord PHEV. Overall, Honda sold 1,200 alt-fuel vehicles, down eight percent from January 2012. Meanwhile, Audi's diesel sales were down 60 percent from a year earlier to 281 vehicles and Porsche hybrid sales dropped 30 percent to 106 units.

With modest numbers from the Volt and Leaf, plug-in vehicle sales fell by about 50 percent between December 2012 and January 2013 to 3,375 units, but were still more than twice as high as 2012's January figures.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      But the price of electricity and gas aren't doubled. It wouldn't be valid for me to just double the numbers and punch them in. You have to pick a timeframe which isn't "today". for the doubling. And if I put in the doubled numbers, the payback only drops to 8 years, 4 months (more with time cost of money and inefficiencies of charging). Unlike the other figures, this one probably is achievable before you need a new battery pack. What if I put in the actual electricity prices I pay and the gas prices I pay instead of lowballing the electricity and pumping up the gas? If I put those in, it's actually cheaper to run the non-Energi than the Energi. And that's again before you consider the less than 100% efficiency during charging. Wow, that's nuts. With gas at current prices in my area, electricity has to be under $0.18/kWh to be cheaper than putting gas in a C-Max Hybrid. $0.16/kWh considering charging inefficiencies! I guess that settles that, you better get on a time of use rate and never charge during the day since even partial peak rates are $0.17/kWh in the 1st tier.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow. I am very impressed by the fact that around one quarter of the Ford C-Max sales are for the PHEV Energi version. Go plug-ins! (Is Chrysler ever even going to make an appearance on that list? And can we get some Tesla numbers?)
        Grendal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        The 11th for the quarterly Tesla numbers. That's last quarter though. It won't be until May that we get Q1 numbers.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where do you get 13 miles of range for the C-Max? The EPA rates it at 20 miles electric range. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33336 Actually you called it 20 miles of electric range earlier such that you are contradicting yourself now. And the EPA ratings are pretty accurate, not big over-estimations.
      Grendal
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like how Danny called the Model S a "low volume" model. If the Leaf only sold 650 cars then the Model S delivered more than twice as many cars as the "high volume" model. We don't know for certain because Tesla won't tell us but I'm guessing low at 1500 cars. Tesla's production is now 1750-ish a month. If plug-ins were 3375, then adding in the estimated 1500 Model S's bring the number up to a more respectable 4875.
        Rob Mahrt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Grendal
        And the i is on there at 70 sales :- )
        Rob J
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Grendal
        Except that was Tesla filling orders for past reservations. We will just have to see how many cars a month Tesla sells when it does not have a backlog to fill.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          Don't worry about backlog. They are selling about 60-70 a day currently. At the end of 2012 they were almost at 100 a day. January is the worst month for auto sales. Europe has just begun seeing the car and they are selling 20 a day there already. It doesn't seem to be drying up anytime too soon. The biggest thing driving sales is that owners are showing them to their friends and right now there are only 4000-ish cars on the road. The more cars = more sales.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          Actually sales are easier to track than delivered cars. US SSL 249 (January 4, 2012) S 1,353 (October 19, 2012) R 532 (October 30, 2012) P 18,845 (February 1, 2013) Canada SSL 23 (July 18, 2012) S 177 (September 23, 2012) P 677 (February 1, 2013) Europe/Asia S 500 (July 2, 2012) R 269 (November 25, 2012) P 2,732 (February 3, 2013) UK S 20 (October 9, 2012) P 75 (December 21, 2012) Hong Kong S 28 (September 27, 2012) R 2 (July 9, 2011) P 168 (January 11, 2013) Australia S 38 (August 18, 2012) P 48 (December 12, 2012) Gross Total: 25,735 - February 1, 2013 Net Total: 21,709 - February 1, 2013 http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/5747-Model-S-Reservation-Tally/page222 Halfway down the page you have charts on the daily average sales.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          And VIN 4847 reported as of today.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          Yeah, I'm a little worried about what happens when they hit the end of their backlog. However, I'm optimistically hoping that getting cars delivered out into the real world will have those cars act as ambassadors that attract new sales. It really is a beautiful car and a great work of engineering.
          Smurf
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          They made they same comment about the Volt sales in 2011, that after the backlog was filled, Chevy Volt sales would drop. That didn't happen though...Volt sales continued to increased even after the backlog was filled. Will the same be true for Tesla?
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Spec: Nope, it doesn't either. Like I said, I did the math. It pays back slower than a Volt despite the lower price and higher mpg (both against a regular Prius). Look at it, assuming 20 mile AER and 47mpg on gas, you can save 0.42 gallons of gas a day versus a regular C-Max Hybrid, less versus a Prius. That's what, $1.60? You're still talking about 10 years and over 100,000 miles just to break even. And that's with free electricity. And no time cost of money. And no battery replacement. If you want to drive cheaply, buy a regular Prius or an EV. I still think EVs are generally losers too, but that really depends on what car you think an EV is comparable to. The Ford Focus EV commands about a $16K premium. If you think the LEAF compares to a Nissan Versa (I do), then it commands at least a $12K premium. If you save $2.40 in gas a day (30 miles driving) versus a 50mpg Prius you'll still take 5,000 days to pay back assuming free electricity. That's 13 years or more. You are saving a noticeable $1K in gas a year, but it still takes a time to get the money you sunk back. Let's hope EVs and PHEVs continue to drop in price.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Spec: No you won't save a lot of money in gasoline each year. Do the math on a plug-in. For a Plug-in Prius, the incremental cost is about $4400 after rebates and such. With an 8 mile AER (and using all your electricity every time) you save $0.43 per day (actually per trip after charging). So if you charge each night and leave for work, you save $0.43 per day and thus you will save about $157 in gas each year. This is not a lot of money. It will pay back the incremental cost in 10,177 days or about 27 years and 10 months. Assuming you don't have to replace the battery pack in that timeframe. If you drive 20 miles (commute) each day, that means the car will have 203,000 miles on it before it pays back. If you drive more than 20 miles per day, like if you drive the norm of about 10,000 miles per year, then you will have to drive about 275,000 miles before it pays back. If you charge at work, so get two trips a day, and if electricity is free at work, then you can save perhaps $1 per day in gas and then drop your payback down to about 12 years. The math on plug-in hybrids is dismal. You have to want to buy one for reasons other than to save money, because you don't save any money unless you have a driving pattern which includes a lot of short trips with charging between. This is why I mention "flower delivery" a lot in relation to the Plug-in Prius. The longer your AER, the faster it pays back, even if the car costs more. A Volt pays back twice almost twice as fast (versus a regular Prius) assuming you have a commute of about 30 miles. a C-Max Energy pays back a hair slower (about 30% faster against a regular Prius) assuming you have a commute of at least 20 miles.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey, I'm not going to say much nice about the PiP. That thing is under-batteried. But C-Max Energi could save a lot of gas. Especially if you can plug-in at work. Just having access to an ordinary 120V outlet will do just fine.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      "I do agree the price of gas will go up. So will the price of electricity." Ah . . . but they will NOT go up equally. Electricity prices rise pretty slow. We can make electricity from coal, wind, natural gas, nukes, solar, etc. The utilities can switch around and emphasis the plants that are cheapest for them at the moment. Gasoline can only be made from oil. So gas is kinda stuck. During the refinery issue in summer, I was already paying more that $5/gallon. It is just a matter of time before it is up there again. With electricity, even if the utility were to go stupid on me and double my rates, I could just throw up some PV panels on my roof and generate my own electricity at a cheaper rate. But even if we assume they went up evenly . . . double your gasoline and electricity costs and then see what the numbers say. The gas is starting at a higher number and thus reflects the price increase much worse.
      mikeybyte1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are "clean diesels" considered advanced powertrains? Are they that much cleaner than a gas engine? Or just compared to older diesels? How green is a clean diesel compared to a comparable gas engine? Just trying to understand why they are always listed on these green tech lists. I can appreciate the high MPG they produce, but what other green creds do they have?
        mapoftazifosho
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        They're not cleaner than a gas engine. They're emissions are on-par with a similarly sized gas engine (non-hybrid) while offering far better fuel efficiency than a similar gas engine. You could make the argument that they're better because at the end of the day they're burning less fuel...
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @mapoftazifosho
          They're burning fewer gallons of fuel. But Diesel contains more oil (and carbon) per gallon. The difference between Diesel and gasoline vehicles in carbon per mile is small unless you do a lot of highway cruising.
        Warren
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        Right up there with clean coal. :-) http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/15848-the-secret-climate-threat
      Grendal
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here's an excellent article from "The Street": http://www.thestreet.com/story/11831063/1/electric-car-sales-to-double-in-2013.html They estimate 125,000 sales of plug-ins for next year. It's guesswork but not outrageously so.
      DeepakX
      • 1 Year Ago
      Title is for January 2013 sales figures. So where are they??? I only see Dec 2012 and prior.
      Reggie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Honda Clarity the hydrogen future is off to a good start this year 0 sales, but they have still got another 11 months to go to beat that record breaking year of 5 sales in 2012. New upstart the C-Max Hybrid still showing the established Volt and Leaf how its done.
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