A look at year-to-date numbers on U.S. green car sales

Chevy Volt at dealershipCar shoppers are weighing the pros and cons of buying their first-ever or next-generation acquisition of clean technologies in new vehicles. Gasoline prices staying down and the 2016 model year launch of refreshed models are influencing purchase decisions.

  • Hybrids are down 15.7% year-to-date compared to the first nine months of 2014; sales are down 5% from September and declined 1.3% from October 2014. Gasoline prices are staying down, and are expected to do so into at least the first months of 2016. With more cost-competitive, highly rated small cars and crossovers, the competition is steep. The Toyota Prius hybrid models made up nearly half of October hybrid sales, and Toyota and Lexus models made up six of the top 10.
  • On the plug-in electric vehicle side, the Tesla Model S continues to lead in sales. The revised 2016 Chevy Volt is starting to roll out slowly to dealerships, and is getting a turnaround on soft sales – coming in at 2,035 compared to 2,100 for the Model S and 1,238 for the Nissan Leaf. Consumers seem to be waiting longer for the new Leaf. The Volt closely trails the Leaf in total U.S. sales to date since the initial launch in late 2010, with 84,656 delivered and the Leaf at 87,190. The Leaf is about 3,500 units sold ahead of the Volt year-to-date in 2015.
  • Fueleconomy.gov just released its 2016 EPA mileage ratings. The BMW i3 led the list in estimated mileage (MPGe) with 117 combined MPGe for the BMW i3 REX (range extender) plug-in hybrid and 124 combined MPGe for the BMW i3 battery electric model. The Volt came in at #2 on the plug-in hybrid ranking with 106 combined MPGe for the 2016 model; and the Chevrolet Spark EV finished at #2 on the battery electric chart with 119 combined MPGe. At 986 total sales in October, the BMW i3 has held a steady position in the top five this year.
  • The Ford Fusion and C-Max continue to hold a steady pace mid-way on the sales list this year for the Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; and the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.
  • The first wave of the Volkswagen TDI diesel emissions scandal has hurt sales on the VW models named on the list; and that list looks to be expanding with a new EPA report (which is being fought by VW). The Ram Pickup continues to dominate the list of diesel passenger vehicle sales, which was in the works long before the VW scandal. That truck has had a strong share of diesel sales for several years, and hasn’t been dragged into allegations of misreporting its emissions. At 48,789 pickups sold this year, it far outpaces No. 2 on the list for October – Audi Q7 diesel, which has sold 3,579 units in the U.S. this year.

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