Americans bought more than 45,000 plug-in vehicles during the third quarter, up 60 percent from a year earlier. Almost 17,000 plug-ins were bought in September alone. In addition to the Tesla and Volt, newer models such as the BMW X5 plug-in hybrid SUV added to the total and more than offset the impact of lower demand for Bimmer's i3 electric vehicle.
The UCS notes that models such as the Fiat 500e, Chevrolet Spark EV, and VW e-Golf have little exposure outside of California. Additionally, gas prices are averaging a relatively low $2.23 a gallon, down from $2.29 a gallon a year ago, according to AAA.
While the trend appears clear, one should proceed with caution when it comes to the numbers submitted by the UCS, which cited InsideEVs as its data source. That's because Tesla Motors doesn't break out which of its quarterly sales are in the US, nor does it disclose monthly figures. Additionally, sales figures for models such as the BMW 330e and Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid aren't officially disclosed by the automakers.
Our figures have third-quarter plug-in vehicle sales at about 36,000 units, which was up about 38 percent from a year earlier. We also have September plug-in vehicle sales at about 11,700 units, up 34 percent from a year earlier.