By The Numbers

May 2015: The-hits-just-keep-on-coming edition

Volkswagen Pretty Much The Lone Bright Spot Last Month

Last month, the Volkswagen e-Golf electric vehicle had its best-ever sales month in the US, moving 410 units. It was just part of a success story over at VW. Overall, VW green-car sales jumped 48 percent from a year earlier to 8,371 units.

And that's pretty much where the good news starts and ends for green-car vehicle advocates. Americans are either taking a bit of a break from buying hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and diesels, or they are weaning themselves off of those types of powertrains altogether. With a number of alt-fuel vehicles slated for a refresh, one can only hope for the former.

US customers bought 53,457 green cars last month, and while it wasn't as dire as the 20-percent year-over-year drop in April, it still represented – wait for it – a 19-percent decline. And sales of plug-ins, which had until recently shown steady gains, plunged 18 percent from a year earlier to 10,115 units.

Granted, there were glimmers of hope beyond those e-Golf sales. BMW almost tripled sales of its i sub-brand of plug-in vehicles to 935 units. And while Tesla doesn't publish monthly sales, we can extrapolate that sales of the Model S EV may have been up by about a third. Porsche green-car sales were up about the same amount.

Toyota, per usual, told the tale, as the Japanese automaker's green-car sales plunged 29 percent from a year earlier to 27,337 units. The four Prius variants' sales dropped 27 percent from a year earlier to 19,563 vehicles, while Camry Hybrid sales plunged 39 percent, Avalon Hybrid sales declined 43 percent and Lexus hybrid sales were down 21 percent.

Things were even worse at Nissan, where despite having the best month so far in 2015, Leaf EV sales fell 33 percent from a year earlier to 2,104 vehicles. Ford also took a hit, as across-the-board sales declines for its Fusion, C-Max and Lincoln MKZ vehicle lines caused total sales to fall 29 percent from a year earlier to 7,203 units.

That made Honda look good by comparison, with green-car sales declining 19 percent to 2,406 vehicles. And General Motors looked positively chipper, as another increase in Spark EV demand and a slight (3.9 percent) decline in Chevrolet Volt sales helped bring total green car sales down "only" 13 percent to 2,983 vehicles.

Year-to-date, green-car sales are down 16 percent to 212,536 vehicles, while plug-in vehicle sales have fallen about five percent to 40,027 units.

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