Heaven help the analyst trying to get a handle on year-over-year green-car sales numbers, because there is little rhyme or reason to them. Just when one would think the usual summertime bump in gas prices may spur more Americans to buy hybrids, plug-ins or diesels, the industry turns in another down month in July.

Green car sales fell three percent from July 2013.

While things perked up slightly from June's 7.6 percent decline, green car sales still fell three percent from July 2013 to 58,010 units. Granted, those numbers didn't factor in Tesla Motors (the plug-in vehicle maker breaks out neither monthly sales nor domestic-only sales), but even factoring Tesla in, green-car numbers would still likely be down.

That's pretty disappointing considering the strong months both the Nissan Leaf battery-electric and Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in had in July. Leaf sales jumped 62 percent from a year earlier to 3,019, the second-highest monthly total ever after May 2014's 3,117 units. The Volt had its best month of the year so far, boosting sales 13 percent to 2,020 units. These sales boosted US plug-in sales (again, not including Tesla) by 68 percent to 9,810 vehicles.

Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid sales tripled last month, compared to July 2013.

Meanwhile, both Honda and Ford also made progress on the green-car front. Ford's green-car sales rose 16 percent to 7,907 vehicles, as the Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid sales tripled from a year earlier to 1,226 units, while C-Max Energi PHEV sales almost doubled to 831 vehicles.

Honda did even better, increasing green-car sales 58 percent to 2,536 vehicles. While Civic Hybrid, Insight and Fit EV sales were all down about 30 percent from a year earlier, Honda moved 1,362 units of its new Accord Hybrid.

As for newer German plug-ins, Smart moved 298 of its ForTwo ED vehicles last month, while BMW sold 363 i3 battery-electrics. Additionally, Audi boosted its diesel sales by 69 percent to 1,298.

And that's pretty much where the good news stops. Toyota's green-car sales were down 3.7 percent to 31,598 vehicles, as sales of its four Prius variants fell 11 percent from a year earlier. That more than offset the 9.9 percent boost in Camry Hybrid sales and the 16 percent rise in Lexus hybrid sales.

Things were even uglier at GM, where green car sales plunged 20 percent from a year earlier to 3,464 units. While the Spark EV and Cruze Diesel joined the Chevy Volt in the positive category, the virtual disappearance of Chevrolet Malibu Eco sales more than wiped all of those gains out.

Volkswagen had a soft month as well, as diesel sales fell 35 percent to 7,220 units.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      MTN RANGER
      • 4 Months Ago
      ABG needs to add the Mercedes B Class ED to the list now. Sales were 41 units for July.
        Luc K
        • 4 Months Ago
        @MTN RANGER
        Lots of other models missing like Sonata (2,800) & Kia Hybrid (1,155). For complete list see here: http://www.hybridcars.com/july-2014-dashboard/
      jimmy_james44
      • 4 Months Ago
      The tide has turned, the Plugs Rise Up.
      wxman
      • 4 Months Ago
      Can someone enlighten me as to why there's always a chorus of "diesels-are-not-green-and-shouldn't-be-included-in-green-car-statistics" complaints every time one of these monthly "By the Numbers" reports comes out? A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that modern diesel technology in cars (post 2006) has one of the lowest "damages" to public health and the environment of any of the car technologies considered, and that includes conventional and GDI gasoline engine technology, HEV, PHEV, BEV, FCV and CNG technologies... "...Electric vehicles and grid-dependent (plug-in) hybrid vehicles showed somewhat higher nonclimate damages than many other technologies for both 2005 and 2030. Operating these vehicles produces few or no emissions, but producing the electricity to power them currently relies heavily on fossil fuels; also, energy used in creating the battery and electric motor adds up to 20 percent to the manufacturing part of life-cycle damages...." Source: National Academy of Sciences, "Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use." Press Release, October 19, 2009, http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12794 "...Diesel, which has relatively high damages in 2005, has one of the lowest levels of damage in 2030. This result is due to the substantial reductions in both PM and NOx emissions that a diesel vehicle has been required to attain after the 2006 introduction of low-sulfur fuel...." (Page 350 (of 506)) Source: National Academy of Sciences, "Hidden Cost of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use." (2009) This report was requested by the U.S. Congress, was funded by the U.S. Treasury (i.e., U.S. taxpayers), and went through a rigorous conflict-of-interest review for the Committee members. This is as biased-free as you can get. What's the definition of "green" if not the minimum damage to public health and the environment?
        Marco Polo
        • 4 Months Ago
        @wxman
        @ wxman I think the answer to your question lies in the belief of many people, who consider that oil products, like gasoline/ diesel aren't "green". The people hold the view that only "renewable" fuels are to be considered "green".
          wxman
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marco Polo
          @Marco Thank you for your reply. You may be correct, but if that is the criterion (use of petroleum fuel), then HEV and PHEV should also be excluded since they also use petroleum fuel (gasoline) to a certain extent. Also, except for a few regions that apparently have large supplies of hydro-electric power, most of the electric generation in the U.S. is from coal and natural gas, both fossil fuels. Finally, diesel technology is arguably one of the best platforms for biofuels (e.g., "renewable" diesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel from biomass), if those ever become economically competitive with petroleum. In the GREET model, one scenario for FTD from biomass actually has a net uptake of GHG over the WTW phase, along with a significant reductions of all other criteria pollutants.
        Luc K
        • 4 Months Ago
        @wxman
        Why is a diesel cleaner than a ICE engine with fuel efficient technologies (3 cyl, DI, ...)? If so then add also regular cars.
          wxman
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Luc K
          The ANL GREET model has two modules - GREET1 which is a Well-to-Wheels analysis, and GREET2 which is the vehicle manufacture and materials processing analysis. GREET1 compares WTW emissions of equivalent "mid-size" cars with various technologies and fuel pathways. The gasoline car has much higher emissions of virtually all criteria pollutants. GHG is about 13% lower with the diesel relative to the baseline gasoline version. The emissions in GREET2 are essentially the same (actually slightly higher for diesel since it's typically slightly heavier than the corresponding gasoline version). See http://webpages.charter.net/lmarz/emissions2014.html for further analysis of WTW emissions of gasoline and corresponding diesel versions of the same vehicle.
          wxman
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Luc K
          Because gasoline has much higher upstream emissions than diesel fuel in the fuel processing phase of the lifecycle. A gasoline vehicle would have to get far higher mileage than a diesel to offset the upstream emissions deficit.
          Luc K
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Luc K
          Look at the Argonne national laboratories models which allow you to compare full lifecycle and all emission types. Take one of the most efficient ICE's and compare that to diesels. Also in some areas diesels are higher over their lifetime especially CO2. But regardless I think diesels are closer to fuel efficient regular gas models than EV/PHEV's. And few people drive 100% highway.
      pmpjunkie01
      • 4 Months Ago
      Plugin eating Diesel's lunch?
      Grendal
      • 4 Months Ago
      Plug-ins are showing a nice improvement. I'd prefer a doubling of last year though. If we double every year then in ten years we'll really be seeing an impact. I can only hope.
      Spec
      • 4 Months Ago
      Plug-ins are growing . . . diesels not so hot. Hybrids tepid. It really looks like the public is interested in plug-ins. It turns out that the public likes plugging in at home to reduce gasoline usage. It is very simple & easy to do. I think the plug-ins are starting to steal market share from conventional hybrids. The Ford Energi models are doing GREAT. All of the Prius cars are down except for the plug-in version which is up 67%. I bet some managers at Toyota might be starting to say "I've made a huge mistake." If you just look at plug-ins and conventional hybrids, the plug-ins are up to 20% share.
        Luc K
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Yes I think many sites are missing that growth while they only report hybrid sales are down: Hybrids YTD: 277K, -9% (-26K) PHEV YTD: 35K, + 60% (+13K) EV YTD: 31K, +19% (+5K)
      CR7
      • 4 Months Ago
      "...Just when one would think the usual summertime bump in gas prices may spur more Americans to buy hybrids, plug-ins or diesels, the industry turns in another down month in July..." ? The MAJORITY of Americans are Kim Kardashian-worshiping, coal-rolling, low-information voter idiots whose main concern is for their potential selfie moment. The MAJORITY of Americans will only buy an alternative energy vehicle when their neighbor buys one. Until then...
        j
        • 4 Months Ago
        @CR7
        Technologies change over time. Perhaps it is time to stop calling diesels "green cars." This could soon be followed by eliminating non-plug-in hybrids from the category as well. Be sure to park it on a visible part of the driveway - so the neighbors can see it when they take a break from the Kardashians.
          paulwesterberg
          • 4 Months Ago
          @j
          That's part of the problem, plug-ins are always chilling in the garage with the charger.
      jimmy_james44
      • 4 Months Ago
      I don't get why these diesels are popular, you save no money. Here's a comparison of the Chevy Cruze gas and diesel autos: Gas Highway 12,000 miles / 39 mpg = 307 gallons used at 3.52 = Total Yearly Cost of: 1,080.64. Diesel Highway 12,000 / 46 mpg = 260 gallons used at 3.85 = Total Yearly Cost of: 1,004.34. Diesel Savings: $76 dollars. And that's on perfect no traffic roads, a little city driving and Exxon makes all the profit.
        CR7
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jimmy_james44
        If an advertisement tells the public that eating fecal matter is cool, I guarantee you that it would see a 15% conversion rate. Advertising can convince stupid people to do stupid things.
          j
          • 4 Months Ago
          @CR7
          5% of viewers were probably thinking about doing it anyway, they just needed a little push, LOL.
        Spec
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jimmy_james44
        EXACTLY. That is what I've been saying for years. Diesel does give you better MPG but you pay more for diesel fuel so it is almost a wash. It is just a small gain by going diesel. And if people keep buying diesel vehicles, the advantage will completely disappear. And either way, you are slave to the oil companies.
          atc98092
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Fuel prices are so widely varies across the country, you can't really make such a blanket statement. Here in the Seattle area, RUG is about $3.80 and D2 is about the same. Figure using Premium gas, and then diesel is cheaper. Using your same distance and MPG, the annual savings is just under $200. Still nothing to write home about, but better. Since the average driver is closer to 15000 miles per year, the savings climbs to $239. Yes, it will take many years to pay for the higher purchase price of the diesel car over a gas version. Now let's take another example: the 2014 VW Golf. The gas is rated at 26MPG and the diesel at 34. Experience shows the diesel does better than that, but we'll stick with the ratings. Using the same fuel costs I used before, the annual savings is now $537. Suddenly the cost savings seems more worthwhile. And the 2015 Golf will have even better MPG on the new platform. If you do a higher percentage of highway driving, the savings are even higher. Still, cost per mile alone isn't the only reason to go diesel. The low end torque makes a more engaging drive, and comes in handy when puttering around town. And resale values for diesel cars is also far higher than the same car with a gas engine.
          Luc K
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Diesel fuel is cheapest in summer, most expensive in (cold) winter (since demand goes up for using diesel for heating). Many forget that especially now it's summer.
      paulwesterberg
      • 4 Months Ago
      Sounds like green cars that reduce fuel usage were pretty good. "Green" cars are not selling well because people can see diesel and mild hybrids don't actually save much fuel.
        Luc K
        • 4 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Especially since gas prices came down. But I think there's more going on: - Rise of PHEVs & EV's I bet are highest on west coast especially CA with carpool lane access. Hybrids are not eligible anymore. Reason you see some EV's only offered in CA - Top hybrids are Prius family and those models are all at end of their model cycle. I think we'll see uptick in hybrid sales when next Prius is released next year - if gas prices go up I can see hybrid sales go up as well. Or hybrid premium cost must go down and for some reason that hasn't happened yet (why?)
      mustang_sallad
      • 4 Months Ago
      I can appreciate that AutoblogGreen's scope is all "green vehicles" and I'm happy for that to include diesels, etc. But given that plug-in sales are so thoroughly in the green, you'd think that would have made the headline or it at least deserves a paragraph in the article.
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