Fans of small victories will appreciate the "progress" that Americans made with their purchases of green-car vehicles last month. Automakers and everyone else, though, will scratch their heads. That's because green-car sales had their fourth straight down month in September, as Americans purchased about 42,000 hybrids, plug-ins and diesels last month. And while the deficit compared to last year wasn't as steep as August's 11 percent year-over-year decline, sales were still down 9.6 percent and continue to pull down year-to-date sales as well.

BMW i3 sales were almost identical to August's at 1,022 units.

On the plus side, Nissan boosted sales of its all-electric Leaf up 48 percent from a year earlier, to 2,559 units. Honda fared even better on the sales of its new Accord Hybrid, which moved 1,095 units. So, while Civic Hybrid, CR-Z and Insight sales all fell from a year earlier, Honda boosted its green-car sales by a whopping 78 percent to 2,060 vehicles. BMW's i3 electric vehicle sales were almost identical to August's at 1,022 units, while the German automaker sold 58 i8 plug-in hybrids.

But that's about it for the good news. The Toyota Prius quartet moved 14,277 units, down 10 percent from a year earlier. And while Avalon Hybrid sales jumped 30 percent and Lexus hybrid sales were up 1.2 percent, Camry Hybrid sales plunged 35 percent. Overall, Toyota's green-car sales dropped 10 percent to 21,032 vehicles.

Overall, Toyota's green-car sales dropped 10 percent.

The Americans and Germans didn't do too well either. At General Motors, Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in sales dropped 21 percent to 1,394 vehicles. Buick LaCrosse eAssist sales rose 39 percent to 587 units, but sales of both the Buick Regal eAssist and Chevrolet Malibu ECO all but disappeared. Added up, GM's green-car sales fell 33 percent from a year earlier to 2,559 vehicles. Ford's green-car sales fell 12 percent from a year earlier to 5,219 units, as sales of the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford C-Max Hybrid fell 13 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

Volkswagen green-car sales declined 33 percent from a year earlier to 5,830 units. The German automaker moved only 115 hybrids, while diesel sales fell 27 percent. And Audi diesel sales fell 16 percent to 1,113 units.

Through September, US green-car sales were down 5.4 percent to about 472,000 vehicles. Plug-in sales rose 39 percent to almost 74,000 units. Those numbers don't include Tesla Motors, which doesn't disclose monthly sales of its electric vehicles.



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