November: The happy-days-are-here-again, maybe, Edition

That 2015 stop-sale on VW diesels didn't hurt.

Any analysis of US green car sales for November must start with the fact that Volkswagen's stop-sale on its diesel vehicles started a year ago. That means that, statistically, demand levels for hybrids, plug-ins and diesels in November could finally be measured on an even playing field for the first time in 2016. But there's more to the story of what was easily this year's most impressive month for green-car sales.

In all, Americans bought more than 39,000 green cars in November, marking a 26-percent surge from a year earlier. For comparison purposes, October and September green-car sales were little-changed from 2015, while all prior months this year were marked by substantial declines. When we factor in only plug-in vehicle demand, sales jumped 60 percent from a year earlier to more than 13,000 units.

Most notably, Toyota, whose green-car sales had been lagging all year, boosted sales by about two percent to more than 19,000 vehicles on a combination of the recent debut of its Prius Prime plug-in hybrid and more than 3,700 units sold of its RAV4 Hybrid.

American automakers also had big green-car gains. Ford's hybrid and plug-in sales surged 61 percent from a year earlier to 7,339 units as sales of its Fusion Hybrid and Energi Plug-in Hybrid doubled. General Motors' green-car sales were up 28 percent to 3,377 units as Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in sales advanced 28 percent.

Honda, whose green-car sales were nearly nonexistent at the beginning of the year, more than doubled its hybrid sales to 2,076 vehicles, almost of which were Accord Hybrid sedans.

Nissan has finally started to lap its lower sales numbers from a year ago, as November demand for the Leaf EV rose 38 percent from a year earlier to 1,457 units. And, while BMW's sales of its i plug-in sub-brand fell 4.6 percent to 802 units, the German automaker certainly closed the gap compared to its numbers earlier in the year.

Even with all of that good news in November, a miracle would have to happen for overall 2016 green-car sales to catch up with last year's levels, which remain almost 14 percent ahead of the 2016 figures. That said, positive gains for plug-ins is guaranteed, as US sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids through November rose 24 percent from a year earlier to more than 113,000 units.

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