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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 c

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Autumn is upon us – at least for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere (happy Spring, friends in the Southern!) – and that means the weather is cooling off, the leaves on the trees are changing into beautiful colors and the hot, hot sales months of summertime are slowing down. Well, for the most part, at least.

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Could the loss of Labor Day make that big of a difference in green-car sales? That's what some folks will likely be asking now that we know that September sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and diesels came in below 2012 figures.

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US ethanol production for September dropped to its lowest level in at least 27 months, in large part because of plant shutdowns. Ethanol plants produced 983.9 million gallons in September, down 9.4 percent from August. The previous low since the EPA started keeping such records in July 2010 was the 1.051 billion gallons produced in February 2011. The numbers come from the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Moderated Tracking System website and were reported in the energy-pricing publicat

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For the second straight month – and the third out of the last four – U.S. alt-fuel sales in September doubled year-earlier totals as consumers gravitated towards advanced-powertrain vehicles. Monthly plug-in vehicle sales eclipsed the 5,000 mark for the first time ever because of record sales for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and near-record demand for the Toyota Prius Plug-In, while the Ford C-Max Hybrid wagon became that company's best-selling hybrid in just its first m

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The bad news for Ford is that its C-Max Hybrid wagon was solidly beaten by sales of the Toyota Prius V last month. The good news is the C-Max outsold all of Ford's other hybrids in its very first month, hinting that things could get real interesting between the C-Max and V in the future. Ford has been heavily touting the C-Max Hybrid as an alternative to the Prius V, and we're about to get real data on if that approach is working.

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How can you win a free Lexus hybrid? Easy. Well, it's easy to enter the contest, anyway.

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Toyota up big, Ford up a little while GM, Chrysler and Honda slip

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