US Green car sales started the year on a notably blue note. The combination of continued low Nissan Leaf demand, declining Toyota Prius sales and that pesky little stop-sale of diesel vehicles for Volkswagen and Audi more than offset higher sales from Tesla and from the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in.

While Tesla's Model S and X and the Volt likely pushed January plug-in vehicle sales to almost 6,800 units, up 11 percent from a year earlier (we say "likely" because Tesla still doesn't release monthly figures, so we are forced to extrapolate from fourth-quarter 2015 numbers), overall green-car sales fell 23 percent to almost 25,700 units.

The VW/Audi diesel stop-sale accounted for about 4,500 units of the difference.

Granted, the VW/Audi stop-sale accounted for about 4,500 units of the difference. Still, factoring that out, green car sales were down about 11 percent from January 2015. For comparison purposes, green-car sales were off 16 percent last year.

The most notable decline may have been the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and the Toyota Prius hybrid models. The Leaf moved just 756 units, down 29 percent from a year earlier. The four Prius variants combined for sales of 9,311 units, marking a 24 percent decline from a year earlier.

Of course, the Prius had company throughout Toyota, where Camry Hybrid and Avalon Hybrid sales were down 41 percent and 36 percent from a year earlier, respectively. Overall, Toyota and its Lexus division's green-car sales were collectively down "just" 13 percent, largely because of the 1,973 new RAV4 Hybrid vehicles sold in January.

Honda's green-car vehicle sales all but disappeared.

More stunningly, Honda's green-car vehicle sales all but disappeared, plunging 71 percent from a year earlier to just 461 units. The cancelled Accord Hybrid sales were off 91 percent to just 71 units.

And BMW's newness factor also appears to be wearing off, as sales of its i3 and i8 plug-in models collectively dropped 72 percent from a year earlier to 214 units.

Ford, by comparison, did Okay. The Blue Oval's green-car sales fell 11 percent from a year earlier to about 3,500 units.

And General Motors came up big, largely because sales of the second-generation Chevrolet Volt spiked 84 percent from a year earlier to 996 units. Overall, GM's green-car sales rose 8 percent from a year earlier, to 1,376 units.



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