October 2015: The better-than-it-looks edition

Volt Demand Offsets Some Of The Diesel Stench

All things considered, last month wasn't a terrible one for green-vehicle advocates when it came to sales of hybrids, plug-ins and, gulp, diesels.

That latter category is pretty much in shambles amid the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal that broke in late September. As far as everything else, folks seem to be at least treading water when it comes to buying green cars.

Overall, US green-car sales in October fell 12 percent from a year ago, to about 37,000 units. More instructively, though, plug-in vehicle sales, which were down about 13 percent going into October, were about dead even with October 2014 at about 9,400 vehicles. Most notably, Chevrolet Volt extended-range vehicle sales surged 41 percent from a year earlier to 2,035 units, likely from a combination of new 2016 vehicles and discounts on the 2015 versions. That offset some of the damage from the 52 percent drop in Nissan Leaf electric-vehicle sales, which totaled 1,238 last month.

Free from the effects of the diesel issue, Toyota had a positive month, with green-car sales rising 6.3 percent to almost 22,000 vehicles. The four Prius variants combined to boost sales 13 percent, while Camry and Highlander Hybrid sales were also up. That more than offset declines in both Toyota Avalon Hybrid and Lexus Hybrid demand.

Also improved, relative to the rest of the year, at least, was Ford, whose green-car sales declined a mild 6.7 percent to about 5,300 units. Sales of the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids were up 24 percent and 7.9 percent from a year earlier, while Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sales were down just 2.4 percent. Sales of the Ford C-Max Hybrid plunged 31 percent from a year earlier.

Also down were both Honda and BMW. Honda green-car sales dropped 38 percent from a year earlier to 1,279 units, with Honda Insight and Accord Hybrid sales falling 77 percent and 61 percent, respectively. That more than offset the impact of a 54-percent jump in Honda CR-Z hybrid sales.

Bimmer also fell back, with sales of its i-branded plug-ins falling 17 percent from a year earlier to 1,135 units.

Then there's Volkswagen. The German automaker's diesel sales slowed to a trickle, falling 92 percent from a year earlier to 416 units. In the silver-linings department, though, e-Golf sales hit 596 units, marking a monthly record.

Through October, green-car sales fell 16 percent to more than 441,000 units, while plug-in vehicle sales declined 11 percent to about 87,000 vehicles.

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