September green-car sales edge up, no thanks to the Model 3

Ford, GM gains offset impact of Model 3's production trickle

Production issues slowed the first deliveries of the Tesla Model 3 to a veritable crawl, but that didn't stop the U.S. green-car market from showing solid September sales gains relative to year-earlier demand.

Americans bought about 44,000 hybrids and plug-in vehicles, up more than 8 percent from a year earlier. Plug-in sales were even more robust, advancing 18 percent from a year earlier to more than 14,500 units.

Of course, the long-awaited debut of the Model 3 didn't make much of a dent, moving just 220 units last month. But fellow American automakers Ford and General Motors boosted green-car demand. The Blue Oval's green-car sales rose 24 percent from a year earlier to 9,158 units. Ford Fusion Hybrid sales surged 68 percent from a year earlier to 6,326 vehicles, more than offsetting a 54 percent drop in Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid sales. C-Max Hybrid sales were also up, rising 11 percent from a year earlier.

GM once again was buoyed by demand for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which resulted in 2,632 units sold. That more than offset the 28 percent decline in Chevy Volt extended-range plug-in sales. Overall, GM green-car sales jumped 56 percent from a year earlier.

Honda's sales jump was even more impressive, though the gross numbers didn't match Ford's or GM's. Honda's green-car sales jumped 89 percent from a year earlier to 2,630 units, mainly because Accord Hybrid sales just about doubled to 2,278 vehicles. Meanwhile, sales of BMW's plug-in i sub-brand rose about 3 percent from a year earlier to 565 units.

Meanwhile, Toyota's green-car sales were down, though by just 3 percent to 20,777 units. While the Prius' four variants combined for a 26 percent decline in sales, Highlander Hybrid sales almost quadrupled from a year earlier to an even 1,500 units, while RAV4 Hybrid sales jumped 40 percent to 5,759. Camry Hybrid sales rose 10 percent to 2,090 units, helping to offset a 12 percent drop in Lexus Hybrid sales.

Finally, Nissan Leaf electric-vehicle sales fell 20 percent from a year earlier to 1,055 units.

For the first nine months of the year, U.S. green-car sales were up 8.6 percent to more than 354,000 units, putting that number almost 30,000 ahead of last year's pace. Plug-in vehicle sales surged 31 percent to more than 122,000 units through September.

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