February 2016: The did-it-or-didn't-it? Edition

Honda, BMW green-car demand dropped last month.

February proved to be a month where it was difficult to make heads or tails out of how US green-car sales are progressing. Take a look at the numbers, and things are pretty straightforward: plug-in vehicle sales were up from a year earlier, but, adding in hybrids and diesels, total green-car demand fell off a bit. Specifically, green-car sales fell 18 percent from a year earlier to about 29,000 units. Break out the plug-ins, though, and sales rose about 7 percent to almost 7,500 vehicles.

Look closer, though, and things get cloudier. First off, the stop-sale of Volkswagen and Audi diesels in the wake of the German automakers' emissions scandal means that the approximately 5,000 diesel sales from last February disappeared this go-round. Pull those numbers out, and green-car sales were almost even with a year earlier.

As for plug-ins, sales rose by about 500 units.

As for plug-ins, sales rose by about 500 units, but that includes the rough estimate of Tesla Motors boosting its sales from a year earlier by about 1,300 vehicles (Tesla notably doesn't disclose monthly sales), which means there's some wiggle room as far as plug-in vehicle sales.

What can be clearly ascertained is that Toyota saved last month from being awful by having a decent February. Additionally, more people flocked to the new-generation Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in, and Nissan continued to falter, as did Ford and Honda.

Toyota saved last month from being awful.

Toyota's green-car sales rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier to almost 18,000 units, bolstered by the new RAV4 Hybrid and the sales of those 2,438 units. That more than offset the 12 percent drop in combined sales of the four Prius variants as well as the 4 percent decline in hybrid sales by Toyota's Lexus division.

General Motors' green-car sales were down 12 percent from a year earlier to about 1,600 units, and those numbers would've been far worse had the Volt's sales not jumped 62 percent from a year earlier to 1,126 units.

Nissan did very slightly better last month than in January with its all-electric Leaf, but still logged a 22 percent drop in sales to 930 units.

Ford had a slightly off month, with green-car sales declining 5.7 percent from February 2015 to 4,732 units. The increase in demand for the Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid was more than offset by the 27 percent drop in Fusion Hybrid sales.

Honda fared far worse, as its green-car sales plunged 78 percent from a year earlier to just 351 units. And BMW saw demand drop-off for its i sub-brand of plug-in vehicles, where sales fell 75 percent to 302 units.

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