Green-car enthusiasts are probably hoping that Toyota's Super Bowl ad with the Muppets will pay for some brand equity with the Japanese automaker because soft demand for the company's batch of hybrids continue to sink US green-car sales.

Green car sales plunged almost 14 percent from last year.

American purchases of advanced-powertrain vehicles last month plunged almost 14 percent from a year earlier to 36,737 units as lower Toyota hybrid sales more than offset likely gains from Tesla Motors and the first recorded sales of the Cadillac ELR extended-range plug-in.

Green-car sales at Toyota, which used the Muppets to try to sell the company's Highlander SUV during the big game, dropped 25 percent from a year earlier to 18,195 vehicles as combined sales of the four Prius hybrid variants fell 23 percent from January 2013. In fact, sales of the Camry, Highlander and Avalon Hybrids all fell from a year earlier, while Lexus hybrid sales declined 9.1 percent from 2013.

General Motors fared even worse.

General Motors fared even worse, as green-car sales plunged 27 percent from last year, down to 2,186 units. While the Cadillac ELR moved 41 units, sales of the Volt extended-range plug-in fell 19 percent to 918 units. Sales of both GM's mild-hybrid sedans and hybrid SUVs also fell. And while the newer Chevrolet Cruze diesel moved 357 units - down from 495 in December.

Ford did slightly better, though also experienced a green-car sales decline with C-Max Hybrid sales plunging 60 percent from a year earlier to 947 units while Fusion Hybrid sales fell 14 percent to 2,607 vehicles. That more than offset the effect of higher sales for plug-in hybrid models such as the Fusion and C-Max Energi. In the final tally, Ford's green-car sales dropped 9.5 percent to 5,384 vehicles.

Mitsubishi sold just one lonely i EV last month.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen's green-car sales fell 17 percent to 4,597 units, with diesel sales down 21 percent from a year earlier. And Mitsubishi sold just one lonely i electric vehicle last month, down from 257 in January 2013.

Such results more than overshadowed positive results from Nissan, Tesla (we think), Honda and Audi. Nissan, which more than doubled sales of its battery-electric Leaf last year, boosted January sales by 93 percent to 1,093 units.

Audi almost quadrupled January 2013 diesel sales to 1,093 vehicles. Honda's green-car sales jumped 36 percent from a year earlier to 1,632 vehicles, as the Japanese automaker moved 525 units of its newer Accord Hybrid while holding steady on Civic Hybrid and Insight sales. And with Tesla implying that the demand for its Model S is on the steady upswing, the company's monthly sales rate of 2,300 units during the fourth quarter would represent a 45 percent increase from early last year. Finally, Daimler's Smart division sold 97 of its ForTwo ED electric vehicles last month.

While overall green-car sales were down, US plug-in sales did increase 36 percent from a year earlier to 6,729, with about half of that increase attributable to the estimated Tesla sales increase.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      throwback
      • 10 Months Ago
      The Prius has been on the market for 5 years, it needs to be updated. Until that happens sales will slowly decline, that's what happens to all models. Unless they slap a couple grand on the hood.
        Mart
        • 10 Months Ago
        @throwback
        Prius has been in the US market since 2001, redesigned hatch came in 2004.
      Ryan
      • 10 Months Ago
      I doubt many people were out looking at new cars this past month here in the frozen tundra part of the country, unless they really needed to be.
        CoolWaters
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        2/3's of the US is now covered in Snow. That does slow down sales.
          Marco Polo
          • 10 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          @ CoolWaters I'm not being negative, but how well do your Solar Panels work in snowy conditions. I know Solar works in the Alps when the sun shines, in fact even better, but for domestic use in the snowbound areas of the US, what's the output like ?.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Even in snowbound areas, snow falls fewer than 5% of the days of the year.
          Harry
          • 10 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Great Lakes are on track to have the most ice coverage ever. Brr...
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @CoolWaters
          correction: the median number of snow days is 5%
      Grendal
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm seeing a 35% increase in plug-ins. That is a reasonable increase and nothing to be blue about. There is certainly room for improvement however. For the big three, Leaf, Volt, and Model S there was a very nice increase with the Volt holding ground for GM. The Volt makes sense when there has been almost no advertising at all. The Leaf makes sense in their marketing of leasing programs. It's just smart sales when your salesperson can compare your monthly gasoline bill to your monthly lease payment and show you end up ahead.
        Marco Polo
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        @ Grendal The board of directors at GM are not my favourite people right now ! After nearly 68 years of building Holden in Australia, GM is ceasing Australian production. Not altogether GM's fault, but still very disappointing. Marketing for the Volt is pathetic. For once GM has highly acclaimed, superior technology, but it puts very little effort into promoting and expanding the promoting the product range. Outside the US, GM has reduced its subsidiaries to mere cyphers, with little autonomy, and no enthusiasm or initiative . GM seems distracted by the glittering prize of success in the PRC, while ignoring its traditional markets. The Volt/Ampera could have been a tremendous making vehicle for GM, but the opportunity has been allowed to just melt away, in a tide of apathy. GM needs a strong, passionate, aggressive, inspirational CEO. Mary Barra, may prove to be that person, but it seems unlikely.
          EZEE2
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          @marco What is the labor and monetary situation in Australia? Seems everyone is pulling out (and leaving too) of the Australian market. Is it that costly to do business there? Anything the government could have done to loosen up the market to keep GM and Ford building there? On the Volt, since there appears to be a lack of data, I can conclude only one of two things: Either: 1. The Volt really is so expensive to build, not even counting research, that GM loses money and doesn't want to sell more. This theory would be backed up by the price of the ELR. GM priced it so it would be profitable. Or 2. GM really is stupid. Why not Cool's wagon, or, raise it up 2 inches, make it look slightly sportier and higher roofline, and call it an SUV? Why not a Buick? Why not yank the drive train and put it in a stripped down version and charge less? Or go the opposite way and put a bigger electric motor and battery and make something slightly bigger, or even (gasp) a true compact pickup truck? That would perk me up. If there is a third option, beyond stupidity or the cost, I would like to hear it. On the marketing side, GM does blow. No arguing there. I have yet to find a volt owner that doesn't love their volt. And, once you buy a volt, you at least SOUND liberal! Radical right wing business owning friends of mine flew down from the frozen north and upon returning, posted photos of his snow covered volt at the airport, but exclaimed in horror as a caddy CTS V was in one of theEV spots, and what a horrible person the caddy owner was. I smiled at the post, knowing that there would be several liberals here who would stop grumbling for a moment and nod in satisfaction at hearing a right winger complain about and ICE parking in an EV spot.
          Ziv
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Well, the good news is that Volt production is picking up, slightly. Volt inventory dropped to 2550 in January but is now up to 2920. If the inventory goes over 3500, the Volt will probably have a pretty good spring, but the record months for Volt sales were when they had 6000-9000 Volts to sell. Inventory doesn't lead directly to sales but a lack of inventory depresses them. Most of GM's vehicles have 3 -4 months of inventory (Cruze sold 17k last month, Impala sold 12k, Cruze has 56k in inventory, Impala has 33k in inventory) so if GM wants the Volt to sell over 2,000 a month, they probably should have an inventory of at least 6,000 Volts. But I think GM should be aiming to sell 3,000 Volts a month if they can, and it wouldn't be hard to do so. As soon as they start making more money on each one built. Which might not be until Gen II.
          Spec
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Australia's mining economy is raising wages so high that manufactures are closing shop. Toyota just said they are pulling out of Australia as a manufacturing place as well. Manufacturing in Oz is a tough sell when you have places like China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. nearby for manufacturing.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          @Marco Being a GM customer for most of my life it is disappointing to see them drop the ball on the Volt. We saw a very nice jump in sales when they finally put out a good marketing campaign. They have so many strengths in the Volt that they could be pushing to let customers be aware of. In my mind it has to come down to sales training. If a good salesperson knows the strengths of their product they can point them out to customers which immediately leads to a sale. As a salesperson I know for a fact that I would be selling the Volt all the time. They should be selling 2000 a month in California alone just because of the access to HOV lanes. Using the same technique as the Leaf is yet another huge selling point. A simple comparison of their current monthly gasoline bill to your monthly car payment should also lead to a sale for the right customer. Pointing out the customer satisfaction numbers and a test drive should finalize the sale. GM is such a massive corporation which really makes it difficult to adjust to changing times and customer demands. It would be nice if GM took advantage of their new technology to move themselves into stronger and more streamlined corporation. It's hard to change directions in a big corporate ship however. Mary needs to build herself a strong young aggressive team of executives to go in and make changes as necessary. In current times it is hard to have a long term vision when companies are focused on the short term gains. That is one of the biggest strengths that Elon Musk brings to the table as a CEO. He has a long term goal and can build a team and keep the focus alive for his team with those long term goals always out there. Most modern CEO's lack that long term vision when they are out to get their yearly bonus based on that years profits.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 10 Months Ago
      The market for green vehicles is saturated; supply is outstripping demand and regulations are incentivizing automakers to sell compliance cars which are generally subpar. Some major sellers are awaiting updates. The market for a green car is not hot right now, but i think it will continue to grow despite this dip.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I don't think we can use this mediocre chart to say anything accurate about the saturation of the green car market.... especially since ABG is the only one calling this chart "Green" when it specifically states "Alt-Fuel" and includes diesel. The term "Green" should be a moving target, as conventional hybrids become mainstream and the new GREEN is vehicle with higher than 50 mpg(e). But if you include such old technology (like diesel cars) under the term "green" you really confuse any possible conclusion. It could be that with the availability of EVs and PHEVs... the demand for mild hybrids has taken a big hit... especially with so many people just now being introduced to EVs/PHEVs and waiting to see the next generation.
          wxman
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I still haven't heard a valid reason why diesel should be excluded as "green" technology if technologies that use gasoline (HEV, PHEV), or even CNG, are considered "green".
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          --"That sounds like a perfect description of diesel technology" No, the oil consumption is not reduced, the CO2 emissions reduction is negligible and the overall emissions profile is decent, but no longer "green" by any stretch of the imagination.
          Marco Polo
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @wxman It's not easy being green ! (sorry, couldn't resist). Joe, is correct, it depends on the time and location. In Norway, with an excess of hydro-power, LPG,CNG, wouldn't be considered 'green' , but in Australia, where nearly all power is generated by coal, LPG is considered 'greener' than gas/diesel. Basically, the idea of 'green' technologies are those which create less emissions, reduce oil consumption, and pave the way for renewable fuels. Not absolutely 'green', but 'greener'.
          wxman
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Diesel vehicle oil consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced from the baseline gasser according to Argonne National Laboratory (http://greet.es.anl.gov/results) and, except for NOx, EPA's lifetime emission factors of regulated emissions are lower for diesels than for gassers across-the-board (greet.es.anl.gov/files/vehicles-13 - Tables A2 and A3; 2014 model year). The definition of "green" is apparently very arbitrary.
          wxman
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          "...Basically, the idea of 'green' technologies are those which create less emissions, reduce oil consumption, and pave the way for renewable fuels...." That sounds like a perfect description of diesel technology, at least in the U.S.!
        David Murray
        • 10 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        The market is by no means saturated. In fact, it is just getting warmed up. Most people are still totally unaware of the EV and PHEV vehicles available. It will be several more years before the public starts to become aware of them.
      A_Guy
      • 10 Months Ago
      I bought a hybrid in 2011 (CR-Z) and I'm basically just waiting for someone (probably Tesla) to make an EV that can get 200 miles and is affordable (25-40k). I live in Texas and I need the range. The i3 is almost there but I don't want to pay for that range extender motorcycle engine. I'd rather buy a battery upgrade. I also really hope someone offers a car like the CR-Z (two door sporty hatch) that is fully electric.
      CoolWaters
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'd like a Chevy Volt WAGON. You know for space for Trips, like hunting trips.
        EZEE2
        • 10 Months Ago
        @CoolWaters
        You hunt? Right winger you
        Harry
        • 10 Months Ago
        @CoolWaters
        Hmm... A Chevy Volt shooting brake... Nah. Ain't gonna happen, but it would be cool if it did.
      Joeviocoe
      • 10 Months Ago
      FYI Just found a fan-made site on Tesla's supercharger network. http://supercharge.info/
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/23108-Farmington-NM-Supercharger?p=522477&viewfull=1#post522477 Construction of a Supercharger.... complete with Drone video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXLrVpe0nOU
      Spec
      • 10 Months Ago
      Looks like Ford took a bit of a hit for their C-Max hybrid MPG fibbing and reliability issues.
        EZEE2
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        A lot of the reliability (not all) issues are replaced to myforddouche. On many models (fusion), take that away and reliability is great. How ford thought it was a good idea to let Microsoft design their system....wow,ford....dude.... ,
        Ryan
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Spec
        People should be buying the Energi model anyways.
      Marco Polo
      • 10 Months Ago
      @ Joeviocoe Yeah, the idea of diesel as being "green' has always baffled me. It's obvious that any vehicle employing EV technology is "green" (although some are greener than others), but diesel is just not "green" ! Even CNG, and LPG, while less pollutant than coal, gasoline and diesel, and infinitely preferable, are still fossil fuels, and can't be considered truly "green'' .
      Ziv
      • 10 Months Ago
      Here is a real Green Car Chart for you... http://insideevs.com/january-2014-plug-in-electric-vehicle-sales-report-card/
      Marco Polo
      • 10 Months Ago
      @ Joeviocoe " CNG/LPG could certainly be green a decade or two ago ". True, sitting here in Western Australia I'm concious that LPG is the only 'greenish' technology with any infrastructure, available on the continent. For six years, the Australian centre-Left labour / green party alliance, squandered vast sums, created an enormous national debt, and left behind no lasting green benefits. (Including allowing the loss of the Blade Electron EV. ) With the departure of local car manufacturing, GM, Ford, Toyota, any hope of innovative Australian alternate fuel vehicles, will be lost forever.
      gslippy
      • 10 Months Ago
      41 ELR sales is miraculous.
        Ziv
        • 10 Months Ago
        @gslippy
        I would bet money, albeit not a lot of it, that ELR sales go over 200 a month for the spring months. They are beautiful cars, and they fit a niche market very well.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Ziv
          No kidding. That's only 4 cars per state! It should sell that many just on it's good looks.
          Ziv
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Ziv
          I wonder what ELR sales levels would be considered successful enough, by the auto press, by the BEV/EREV buying public and by GM, respectively. I have a feeling the three different numbers would be very different. I am not sure that most auto mags won't give GM grief about the ELR unless they sell 500 a month/6,000 a year, and I don't think that is really fair, but it is no surprise. I think BEV/EREV supporters would be satisfied if GM was able to sell 300 a month/3600 a year. And I think GM knows they will be lucky to sell 3,000, with 2400 being a lot more likely. Unless they start some nice incentives sooner, rather than later.
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