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When it came to January alt-fuel sales, there was Toyota, and then there was everyone else.

While the world's biggest maker of hybrids appeared to get back on track and get its supply chain in order after last year's Japan tsunami hampered production, most advanced-powertrain models other automakers sold in the U.S. experienced a substantial dropoff despite the fact that gas prices were up about 10 percent from a year earlier.

Other automakers weren't so fortunate.

Toyota, whose Prius generally accounts for about half of the hybrids sold in the U.S., sold 11,555 units of the model, up 8.7 percent from a year earlier after sales fell 3.2 percent for all of 2011. Meanwhile, Toyota, which didn't disclose figures for any other individual hybrid models, boosted sales of its non-Prius hybrids by 54 percent from a year earlier to 3,087 vehicles, indicating that buyers appear to be taking to the Camry Hybrid that debuted late last year. And Toyota's Lexus luxury badge increased January sales by 60 percent to 1,963 vehicles, likely a reflection of demand for the Lexus CT 200h hatchback that launched last year.

Other automakers weren't so fortunate. Honda, whose 2011 hybrid sales fell 5.9 percent from a year earlier, continued to see lagging demand for its models. January hybrid sales plunged 58 percent from a year earlier to just 1,304 vehicles, with Honda's best-selling hybrid – the Insight – moving just 492 vehicles. The Honda CR-Z sport-coupe hybrid had a 59 percent drop in sales to 363 vehicles, while the Honda Civic Hybrid sales fell 31 percent.

Meanwhile, Ford didn't fare much better, taking a 35 percent hit in hybrid sales from a year earlier to 1,209 vehicles in January. The U.S. automaker, which will start selling the Ford Focus Electric this year, saw all three of its hybrids – the Escape, the Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ – have sales declines north of 30 percent.

The only other bright spots, aside from Toyota, were General Motors and Nissan.

The only other bright spots, aside from Toyota, were General Motors and Nissan. Nissan, whose Altima and Infiniti M-Series Hybrids sell in very limited numbers, boosted January sales of its battery-electric Leaf almost sevenfold from a year earlier to 676 vehicles.

GM also boosted alt-fuel sales from a combination of more demand for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in, and from sales of the new Buick LaCrosse eAssist. The latter model moved 803 vehicles and accounted for about 20 percent of all LaCrosses sold in January, while the Volt almost doubled year-earlier sales to 603 vehicles.

Still, a closer look indicates a potential tapering off in interest for some electric-drive technology, at least for now. Leaf sales fell 29 percent from the 954 vehicles sold in December, which may just as well reflect the overall drop in car sales between January and December (Prius sales in January were down 32 percent from a month earlier). Volt sales, on the other hand, plunged 61 percent from December, which was a monthly record for the vehicle. And the Mitsubishi i battery-electric vehicle, which debuted in the U.S. in November, moved just 36 units last month, less than half of the 76 vehicles sold in December.

As for diesel-powered models sold by German automakers, the results were split. Volkswagen in January boosted diesel-vehicle sales by 30 percent from a year earlier to 4,789 units, while Audi's diesel sales fell 10 percent from a year earlier to 703 vehicles.


BRAND/COMPANY Vol% Jan. 2012 Jan. 2011 Vol% YTD2012 YTD2011
Ford Motor Co.
Ford Escape Hybrid -33.65% 345 520 -33.65% 345 520
Ford Fusion Hybrid -36.95% 611 969 -36.95% 611 969
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -31.62% 253 370 -31.62% 253 370
FORD MOTOR TOTAL -34.97% 1,209 1,859 -34.97% 1,209 1,859
Volkswagen
Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid na na na na
Volkswagen Diesels 30.20% 4,789 3,678 30.20% 4,789 3,678
General Motors
Buick Regal Hybrid na na na na
Buick LaCrosse Hybrid 803 0 802.6 0
Cadillac Escalade Hybrid na na na na
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid na na na na
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid/GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid -84.48% 9 58 -84.48% 9 58
Chevrolet Volt 87.85% 603 321 87.85% 603 321
GM ALT-FUEL TOTAL 273.25% 1415 379 273.25% 1415 379
Nissan North America
Nissan Leaf 677.01% 676 87 677.01% 676 87
Audi
A3 TDI -16.69% 393 472 -16.69% 393 472
Q7 TDI 0.02% 310 310 0.02% 310 310
AUDI DIESEL TOTALS -10.07% 703 782 -10.07% 703 782
Kia
Kia Optima Hybrid na na na na
Hyundai
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid na na na na
Toyota Motor Co.
Toyota Prius 8.65% 11,555 10,635 8.65% 11,555 10,635
All other Toyota hybrids 54.33% 3,087 2,000 54.33% 3,087 2,000
Lexus Hybrids 60.20% 1,963 1,225 60.20% 1,963 1,225
TOYOTA MOTOR TOTAL 19.80% 16,605 13,861 19.80% 16,605 13,861
Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi i na 36 0 na 36 -
Porsche
Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid -36.36% 112 176 -36.36% 112 176
Porsche Panamera Hybrid na 39 0 na 39 0
PORSCHE TOTAL -14.20% 151 176 -14.20% 151 176
American Honda
Honda Civic Hybrid -31.24% 449 653 -31.24% 449 653
Honda CR-Z -59.40% 363 894 -59.40% 363 894
Honda Insight -68.34% 492 1,554 -68.34% 492 1,554
AMERICAN HONDA TOTAL -57.95% 1,304 3,101 -57.95% 1,304 3,101
BMW Group na na na na
Mercedes-Benz na na na na