Americans may be partying like it's 2009 (about the last time gas prices were this low), but the hangover is already being felt by carmakers selling advanced-powertrain vehicles. Last month, automakers sold almost 31,500 hybrids, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and diesels in the US, marking an 8.6 percent drop from a year earlier. Things were so bad that even the Nissan Leaf, so long a reliable touchstone for record monthly sales, had lower numbers in January. Things were so upside-down that Toyota, which for much of last year had been dragging down numbers, actually fared relatively well. Not so for US automakers, though.

For starters, General Motors' green-car sales plunged 43 percent from a year earlier to just 1,255 units, as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in sales of 542 units were the lowest in more than three years. Mild-hybrid vehicle sales all but disappeared, while Chevrolet Cruze Diesel sales dropped 48 percent.

Ford didn't do much better, as green-car sales were down 27 percent from a year earlier. The company was consistent, though, as all six of its all-fuel vehicle lines had sales there were down between 15 percent and 36 percent from a year earlier, with the Fusion Hybrid as the company's sales bellwether.

The aforementioned Nissan Leaf electric vehicle sales fell 15 percent to 1,070 units after boosting sales 34 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. German diesel makers also fell hard. Audi diesel sales dropped 26 percent from a year earlier, while Volkswagen diesel sales declined 16 percent. The VW e-golf electric did move 181 units, and BMW sold 755 of its i3 and i8 plug-ins.

Meanwhile, the bright spots were merely relative. Toyota almost broke even, as the Japanese automaker's green car sales were down about a percent to 18,022 units. Honda's green-car sales fell 2.6 percent to 1,589 units, as Accord Hybrid sales were up 53 percent. And Daimler's Smart ForTwo ED electric vehicle sales jumped 52 percent to 147 units.

The story behind the lagging green-car sales is gas prices. Americans are paying about $2.11 a gallon for gas, which is about a dime less than Americans were paying a month ago, according to AAA. And that's helped pull down hybrids and plug-ins alike. US plug-in vehicle sales, not including the ever-opaque Tesla Motors, fell 4.8 percent from a year earlier. to 4,218 units in January.


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