July 2015: The real-dog-days edition

Nissan Leaf, GM, Ford All Have Tough Months

Prospective buyers of advanced-powertrain vehicles continued to scale back on purchases of green cars last month, as Americans decided to wait for the new batch of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric vehicles to arrive. US green car sales in July were down almost 16 percent from a year before – or about the same drop as year-to-date numbers — to almost 49,000 units. On the plug-in front, the numbers were worse, with sales down 22 percent to about 8,600 units. In fact, things were so topsy-turvy that the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in outsold the Nissan Leaf battery-electric for the first time in almost two years. While ICE vehicle sales were generally good last month, the public appears to be in a holding pattern until improved versions of those models are made available.

The good green news was pretty much contained to German automakers Volkswagen and BMW. Perhaps benefiting from rising gas prices, VW improved its green-car sales 17 percent from a year earlier to 8,454 vehicles. Diesel sales were up 14 percent, while the company moved 313 of its e-Golf EVs. Bimmer's sales of its relatively new plug-in models tripled from a year earlier to 1,152 units, with sales of the i3 battery-electric more than doubling.

Beyond that, things were very shaky. Toyota's green-car sales fell 20 percent to 25,204, and while sales of the four Prius variants were down "just" 13 percent, models like the Camry and Avalon Hybrids saw sharper drops, as did those from Toyota's Lexus luxury badge.

Honda was somewhat steadier, as green-car sales declined 7.1 percent to 2,356 units.

Ford's green-car sales dropped 27 percent from a year earlier to 5,787 units, with the automaker's Fusion and C-Max Hybrid and Energi Plug-in Hybrid models sustaining year-over-year drops of between 17 percent and 43 percent.

General Motors fared worse, with green-car sales plunging 38 percent form a year earlier to 2,162 units. Volt sales fell 35 percent to 1,313 units, while demand for the Spark EV and Cruze Diesel also dropped.

And July was particularly rough for Nissan, where sales of the Leaf plunged 61 percent to 1,174 units

Through the first seven months of the year, green-car sales fell 16 percent from a year earlier to more than 312,000 units. Plug-in vehicle sales declined 11 percent to 59,943 units.

Share This Photo X