October green-car sales rise despite Model 3 delay

Toyota turns positive, offsetting a tepid month from Ford.

Model 3, where art thou? That's what green-car advocates may be saying after the growth rate of both U.S. hybrid and plug-in sales slowed last month. A strong month from Toyota and gains by General Motors were largely offset by slow Nissan Leaf sales and a relatively tepid month from Ford.

October U.S. green car sales rose 6.6 percent to almost 39,000 units, while plug-in vehicle sales were up 11 percent to almost 13,500 units. For the year, green-car sales have risen 8.4 percent, while plug-in sales have jumped 29 percent.

While Tesla didn't report October sales, the company did say production ramp-up for its Model 3 sedan would be delayed until 2018 as the automaker redesigns its battery-production assembly line. Fortunately, Toyota stepped up by reversing year-long declines and boosting its green-car sales by 9.2 percent from a year earlier to almost 18,000 units. While the four Prius variants' sales declined by 5.3 percent from a year earlier, Highlander Hybrid sales more than tripled to 1,266 units, while RAV4 Hybrid sales surged 41 percent to 5,012 vehicles. The Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle also had a strong month, doubling its sales to 249 units.

GM also came up big, boosting green-car sales by 50 percent from a year earlier to 4,649 units. GM's Chevrolet division moved 2,781 units of its battery-electric Bolt, which more than offset a 38 percent decline in Volt extended-range plug-in sales.

Honda also fared well in October, as Accord Hybrid sales jumped 41 percent to 1,832 units. Overall, Honda's green-car sales jumped 42 percent to 2,115 vehicles.

BMW had an uncharacteristically strong month, boosting green-car sales for its i division by 12 percent to 719 units.

Ford's green-car growth slowed considerably, as the Blue Oval boosted sales by just 3.3 percent from a year earlier to 8,009 units. While C-Max Hybrid sales almost tripled to 1,092 units, Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid sales plunged 46 percent to 741 units.

Finally, Nissan's sales of its all-electric Leaf slowed, as prospective Leaf buyers apparently are waiting for the automaker to start selling its next-generation 2018 model. Nissan sold 213 of the EVs in October, which was down 85 percent from a year earlier.

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