Could the loss of Labor Day make that big of a difference in green-car sales? That's what some folks will likely be asking now that we know that September sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and diesels came in below 2012 figures.

The drop off between September 2012 and 2013 was worst year-over-year sales performance of the year so far.

With Labor Day falling in September last year and in August this year, last month's green car sales fell 1.8 percent from September 2012 to 46,523 units, marking the worst year-over-year sales performance of the year so far. Through August, green car sales had been up 26 percent, while the March sales decline of 0.33 percent had been the previous low point of 2013. More jarring was the 36 percent sales drop off between August and September.

As usual, the bellwether was Toyota and, specifically, sales of its four Prius hybrid variants. Prius sales in September totaled 15,890 units, down 16 percent from a year earlier. All four variants had declining sales, with Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Prius V wagon sales dropping 30 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The Japanese automaker didn't get much help from its other models, either. Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid sales fell 17 percent and 21 percent from a year earlier, while hybrid sales at Toyota's Lexus division dropped 21 percent. Overall, Toyota's green car sales declined 12 percent from a year earlier to 23,425 vehicles.

General Motors' green car sales fared even worse, plunging 35%.

General Motors' green car sales fared even worse, plunging 35 percent compared to 2012 to 3,840 vehicles. Sales of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in fell 38 percent to 1,766 units, while sales of GM's mild-hybrid models such as Buick's LaCrosse and Regal and the Chevrolet Malibu plunged 50 percent. That more than offset the effect of the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel's 479 vehicles sold.

Offsetting some of these declines were strong performances at Nissan and Ford.

Honda green car sales also lagged, falling 5.8 percent from a year earlier to 1,159 units. While Honda Insight hybrid sales rose 22 percent from 2012, Civic Hybrid and CR-Z sales fell 18 percent and 21 percent from a year earlier. Additionally, low-volume models such as Porsche's two hybrid models and the Mitsubishi i electric vehicle were all down from September 2012. Volkswagen diesel sales were just about even with last year, at 8,675 units. Offsetting some of these declines was the strong performance of both Nissan and Ford. The Nissan Leaf EV just about doubled year-earlier sales to 1,953 units, while Ford's sales of its hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles more than doubled to 5,926. Still, even that number was relatively disappointing, as Ford's year-to-date green car sales through August had been up almost fivefold from a year earlier. Overall, though, September sales of plug-in vehicles rose 23 percent from a year earlier to 6,977 units. Year-to-date, plug-in vehicle sales are up 77 percent to 53,279 units.



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  • 16 Comments
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota needs a BEV and a plug-in with decent range to compete with the leaf, volt, energi, i3, etc. I think they are working on these, but don't want to cannibalize current sales by pre-announcing models they are not yet ready to sell. Other options that would probably sell well: A hybrid truck, hybrid minivan or subaru-killer hybrid 4x4 wagon(that actually gets good mileage). There are not many large family vehicles that get good mileage. Toyota could fill that market gap, but so far their leadership has been pretty inept.
      Wm
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM's numbers have fallen off a cliff (-35%). With the new Malibu having stop/start on the base model and it delivering about the same or maybe better mileage as the Malibu Eco, will it be counted here as alt-fuel? They need to add something to the total. Honda still falling! That should change with the Accord Hybrid when it goes on sale.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Wm
        Regarding GM, the eAssist stuff is crap and I'm not surprised to see its sales drop. I say it every month, they need better conventional hybrid technology. The Volt sales are dropping because they had a massive surge last month with the $5K price drop so a lot of pent-up demand bought last month. Hopefully the sales continue for the Volt, it is a great car.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          @ Spec Well said !
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          eAssist was a good idea for 5 minutes - it seemed like a cheaper, lower complexity method to increase mileage. Then, 5 minutes later, hybrids came out that were the same price from both Toyota and Ford, that massively outperformed the eAssist vehicles. but for those 5 minutes...
      Joey
      • 1 Year Ago
      Where are the Mercedes and BMW diesel numbers??
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      The sector is more crowded. Total numbers are up. On a side note. Let's stop calling them green cars. How about national securitymobiles? Or terrorist trashers? Or trade deficit busters?
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        Rugged-Individualist-mobiles. (When coupled with a solar PV system.)
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spec
          Sometimes you say stuff that other's dont' catch, but that was a good one - 'Rugged Individualist' is actually a term Rush Limbaugh (duh-duh DUHHHHHHHHHHH) is fond of. In all seriousness, however, this is where the greens and right wing crazies find common ground. As I have mentioned, I know some end of the world survivialist right wingers - but guess what - they are sustainable organic food growing, well digging, locally produced buying, solar and wind power using people. They even (gasp) form co-ops so they can trade amongst themselves! Both sides need to calm the eff down - especially when common ground is ALREADY THERE. They just need to ignore your socialist dreams, and you ignore their...well, lots of stuff, and everyone gets along! :)
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        @ brotherkenny4 We all want to see more EV technology being sold, and the technology developing. However, continually confusing the issue with inaccurate or out of date slogans, is counter-productive. Terrorism has no real connection to oil, except that some citizens of some oil producing nations are terrorists. The US imports very little energy from outside North America (unless you consider Canada as a military threat to the US ! ) The US trade deficient would increase massively without the benefit of US bi-lateral trade with oil nations. In addition, without that trade, more than ten million American jobs would disappear form the US domestic economy. That's often the problem with chanting popular slogans. Not only are most slogans inaccurate, and the product of irrational prejudice, but counter-productive.
          brotherkenny4
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Our whole middle east strategy revolves around oil and our efforts have made us the target of terrorist. Yes, they would exist even if we were not actively pursueing a stabilization of the oil market, but they would not be targeting us, but rather whoever else their religious leaders say is the enemy. So, we have connected oil and terrorism. We import nearly 50% of our oil, and yes much from canada. However, the oil market is global and we know it. Thus, whatever happens in the middle east affects the global price and also the price that canada can get for their product too, and thus raises the price to us. Our strategy then is to stabilize the middle east oil production so that global prices do not go up. We do not seell more to the oil nations than we buy from them. We have a trade deficit, not a trade surplus. Some individual industries benefit from these interactions, but that is different than the whole.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @ brotherkenny4 I had no idea that Timothy McVeigh, the Uni-bomber, the Red Army faction, IRA, etc were all motivated by Oil ? The main cause of Islamic resentment to the US, has nothing to do with oil, but rather the US policy of uncritical support for Israel. The US is no longer in a position to "stabilize world oil prices" . With the growth of the PRC and Russian oil companies, the US has become just one player among many. Nor is oil sold on a single market. The PRC, for example, is the main recipient of Iraqi oil, purchased on a long term contract by barter. The idea of a single method or price for Oil has long since ceased to exist. The US also imports crude to refine and re-export as various petroleum products. The US trade balance with oil nations is heavily in favour of the US. The US not only sells more to the oil exporters than the US buys, but the US is the recipient of the lions share of petro-dollar investment. Without this exceedingly beneficial trade, the US economy would be in even worse shape ! It's far more complex than you realize.
      gslippy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cheap gas. Truck sales are up.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm glad to see Toyota drop a bit. Ford is scooping up many of their hybrid sales and the plug-ins are cutting into their market. Perhaps this will finally get Toyota to start building real plug-ins.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Toyota is also smart enough (I am assuming) to not wait very long to counter Ford. They still have the lion's share of the market, and I imagine they will want to keep it that way. Obviously there will be other players, but Ford coming around with their products should motivate Toyota to continue to innovate. Having a low price model, such as the Prius C, is a great thing - now if they can add a plug in to the C for $2 - $3K more...then we have a plug in at $22K - $23K? Yes please.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Toyota Prius should lose some market share against new competition that is perhaps better than their long in the tooth Prius liftback. Is 2015 the year of the all-new Prius or will it be 2014 calendar year as a 2015 model year?
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