Gas prices not the deciding factor in lower green car sales

Looking Back, The Price At The Pump And The Decline In Fuel Efficient Sales Don't Line Up

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It's tempting to declare that lower gas prices lead directly to lower green car sales. It's a comforting and easy analysis to make. When there's less pain at the pump, there's less of a reason to ease that pain, right? While there has got to be some connection, new data from Autotrader, though, shows that the correlation isn't quite so simple. In fact, the share of hybrid and electric vehicle registrations peaked in May 2014, well before national average gas prices started to decline in July. Autotrader's numbers show that since May 2014, the share of green car registrations has dropped every month, despite high gas prices sitting at historically high prices even after the decline started.

Autotrader's Mark Strand told AutoblogGreen that even though the number of green model offerings went up in the last year, market share has flattened out. This is especially notable since last summer was, "the hottest period for vehicle sales since the last recession," Strand said. Despite the overall healthy auto industry, the share of green vehicle registrations actually, "started trending down when gas prices were still increasing and continued to decline with gas prices above or near the $3.50 gallon mark." You can dig into the Autotrader data in the charts above.

"All of this suggests to that green vehicles had reached something of plateau before gas prices plummeted," Strand said. "Even with the doubling of available models since 2012, market share trended sideways at best and actually began to slide. The buzz around the dramatic drop in gasoline prices might obscure the fact that green vehicles were already challenged to break into the mainstream even in a high gas price environment."

What we take away from this is that the appeal of high-mileage and plug-in vehicles cannot be measured by those numbers at gas stations. Instead, we know that EVs won't die because of low gas prices and a good deal increases EV sales.

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