With Tesla Model 3 deliveries beginning, July may be the last month for a while in which the growth of green-car sales in the U.S. can be measured with some sense of accuracy and perspective, as all signs point to a spike in year-over-year growth from here on out.

And with that in mind, things didn't look great last month. In fact, year-over-year sales of hybrids and plug-in vehicles were down for the first time this year, falling 9.6 percent from a year earlier to about 37,600 units. Plug-in-vehicle sales remained on the positive side of the ledger, though they slowed to a 16 percent growth rate, hitting about 13,400 units. That's factoring a general estimation of sales from Tesla, which continues to provide quarterly numbers for its global sales but nothing monthly or particular to the U.S.

American automakers were the primary reason for the falloff, as both Ford's and General Motors' July green-car sales were substantially less impressive than during the first half of the year. Ford's fell 29 percent from a year earlier to 5,316 units, as Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sales dropped 38 percent and 48 percent from a year earlier, respectively. And while C-Max Energi sales rose 12 percent, C-Max Hybrid sales fell 11 percent, effectively canceling out that gain.

GM's green-car sales, which jumped 59 percent during the first half of the year, slowed to a 20 percent growth rate for July, primarily because Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in sales plunged 37 percent from a year earlier to 1,518 units. The good news is that the Chevy Bolt electric vehicle had another record month, moving 1,971 units in July (and outselling the Corvette).

Toyota's green-car sales also lagged year-earlier numbers. While sales were down almost 10 percent during the first half of the year, they dropped 17 percent last month to about 19,500 units, with the four Prius variants combining for a 26 percent decline in demand. Camry and Avalon Hybrid sales each fell 42 percent from a year earlier, while hybrid sales at Toyota's Lexus badge decreased 15 percent. RAV4 Hybrid sales remained strong at almost 4,700 units, while the Prius Plug-in Hybrid (Prime) moved 1,645 units.

Sales at BMW's i plug-in sub-brand also continued to fall, declining 60 percent from a year earlier to just 656 units.

Offsetting some of those declines were Nissan and Honda. The Nissan Leaf EV boosted July sales by 21 percent from a year earlier to 1,283 units, while Honda's green-car sales almost tripled to 2,437 units, primarily because the Accord Hybrid's sales almost quadrupled to 2,007 vehicles in July.

Through the first seven months of the year, U.S. green-car sales remained up 11 percent to almost 269,000 units, while plug-in vehicle sales rose 39 percent to about 92,500 units.




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