It's three-quarters of the way through the year, and green-car watchers can probably surmise that 2016 won't likely be a banner year for sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or – gasp – diesels. Through September, US green-car sales have fallen a solid 18 percent from a year earlier to about 322,000 units. And that's factoring plug-in vehicle sales that have risen 19 percent to almost 89,000 units. With that context, then, September wasn't a bad month: last month's green-car sales were about even with year earlier at more than 40,000 vehicles.
That said, the sector may have hit bottom and may be on its way up, especially as Nissan prepares to update its Leaf electric vehicle and General Motors readies the release of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. That's because, factoring out the impact of the stop-sale on Volkswagen diesel vehicles because of the German automaker's dreaded emissions scandal, green-car vehicle sales were actually up (very) slightly in September. In fact, plug-in vehicle sales surged 42 percent to more than 12,000 units. Through August, plug-in vehicle sales had advanced about 15 percent, and September marked a new record for EV sales in the US.
September marked a new record for EV sales in the US.
The Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in continues to churn out impressive numbers, doubling sales from a year earlier to more than 2,000 vehicles. The Chevy Spark EV also doubled sales, helping to push General Motors' green-car sales up 90 percent from a year earlier to more than 3,000 units.
Nissan Leaf EV sales also solidified after months of declines, and actually boosted numbers by 5.5 percent to 1,316 units.
Ford also fared well in September, increasing green-car sales 34 percent to about 7,400 units. Notably, the Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid doubled sales to 1,652 units, while Fusion Hybrid sales surged 89 percent to 3,776 units.
Ford also fared well in September.
Such advances helped offset the impact of rough months from both Honda and BMW. Honda's green-car sales dropped 26 percent from a year earlier to just 1,386 units, as none of its hybrids or plug-ins boosted demand from a year earlier.
And BMW's i sub-brand of plug-in vehicles saw sales plunge 71 percent to just 548 vehicles, as demand for the i3 battery-electric vehicle fell 77 percent.
Finally, Toyota had a middling month, as its green-car sales declined 6.2 percent from a year earlier to 21,413 units. While the newer RAV4 Hybrid moved 4,127 units, sales of Toyota's four Prius variants fell 23 percent from a year earlier to 12,475 vehicles, combined.