Americans appear to be gearing up for further increases in US gas prices, as green-car sales last month had their largest year-over-year gains of 2014. Domestic customers bought almost 56,000 hybrids, plug-ins and diesels in April, marking a 2.6 percent increase from April 2013. Plug-in sales were particularly strong, jumping 41 percent from a year earlier, as sales of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S battery-electric vehicles all showed gains.
"Now and again, I get the feeling, well if I don't win, I'm gonna break even," Tom Petty sang on his 1994 nugget You Wreck Me. And while we're not out to wreck any hybrids or electric vehicles, it's safe to say that the sentiment of that lyric is an appropriate one when analyzing last month's green-car sales.
Gas prices are up. There are more hybrid and plug-in vehicle models available to the public than ever. Nissan's doing great with its Leaf and Tesla continues to exceed sales expectations with its Model S. And yet advanced-powertrain and alt-fuel vehicle sales continue to crater compared to the numbers from a year ago. What's going on here?
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.
Proponents of advanced-powertrain vehicles may want us to start including the Tesla Model S in their monthly US calculations. Even though Tesla doesn't give out monthly sales totals, without counting sales of the luxury electric sedan, the green-car story just isn't getting much better.
Anyone hoping September's flatlining of US green-car sales was an aberration will be disappointed. October's numbers are in and they're not much better. With gas prices working their way down from their summertime highs, Americans continued to show tempered enthusiasm for hybrids, plug-ins and diesels, as October green-car sales rose just 4.3 percent from a year earlier to 48,191 units. While plug-in vehicle sales rose 29 percent compared to October 2012, year-to-date plug-in numbers had been up
June marked the second-fastest year-over-year growth rate for US green car sales for 2013 so far and helped put sales of green vehicles – pure electrics, hybrids and diesels – for the first half of the year about 19 percent ahead of 2012 levels. Americans bought 57,614 advanced-powertrain vehicles last month, up 35 percent from June 2012. Only January's 58 percent year-over-year growth rate was faster than last month's, which represented a bit of an acceleration from May's 30 percent
Bad news for U.S. consumers turned into good news for sellers of advanced-powertrain vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Chevrolet Volt, as higher gas prices drove a near doubling of August alt-fuel U.S. vehicle sales compared to numbers from 2011.