US green car sales in June rose 35 percent from a year earlier

June marked the second-fastest year-over-year growth rate for US green car sales for 2013 so far and helped put sales of green vehicles – pure electrics, hybrids and diesels – for the first half of the year about 19 percent ahead of 2012 levels. Americans bought 57,614 advanced-powertrain vehicles last month, up 35 percent from June 2012. Only January's 58 percent year-over-year growth rate was faster than last month's, which represented a bit of an acceleration from May's 30 percent growth rate.

June 2013 plug-in vehicle sales more than doubled from 2012, to 6,862 units, and that doesn't include the Tesla Model S.

While Toyota, with its Prius hybrid, continues to be a bellwether of sorts for green car sales, numbers were particularly helped by increased demand for plug-in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf battery electric. Volt sales jumped 53 percent to 2,698 vehicles, while Nissan sold 2,225 Leaf EVs, quadrupling year-earlier figures and falling just short of the model's March 2013 monthly record of 2,236 units. Because of this demand, total June plug-in sales more than doubled from a year earlier to 6,862 units, and those numbers don't include Tesla's Model S (Tesla doesn't publish monthly figures).

And while Toyota's growth numbers were less gaudy, the Japanese automaker started putting some distance between its 2013 and 2012 numbers, boosting June sales by 19 percent to 30,663 vehicles. Sales among the four Prius variants rose 10 percent to 21,079 vehicles, with a jump in demand for the standard hatchback more than offsetting declines in sales of the Prius C compact, Prius V wagon and Prius Plug-in Hybrid. Camry Hybrid sales were up 12 percent, Highlander Hybrid sales rose 11 percent, and Toyota moved 1,394 units of its recently introduced Avalon Hybrid. Hybrid sales at Toyota's Lexus division jumped 39 percent from June 2012.

Overall, Ford's green-car sales surged almost sixfold to 7,736 units. Honda also continued to turn things around.

Ford also continued to come up big on its newer C-Max models and recently reintroduced Fusion Hybrid, which almost quadrupled year-earlier sales to 3,057 units. Ford sold 2,889 C-Max hybrids and 455 C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrids last month while moving 390 Fusion Energi PHEVs. The US automaker also increased Lincoln MKZ hybrid sales by 70 percent to 768 units while moving 177 Focus Electrics. Overall, Ford's green-car sales surged almost sixfold to 7,736 units.

Honda also continued to turn things around, increasing its green-car sales by 12 percent compared to 2012 by selling 1,758 green vehicles. While Civic Hybrid and CR-Z sales were pretty much the same, Honda's Acura ILX Hybrid increased sales by 42 percent – to 163 units – and the Japanese automaker moved a monthly record 208 Fit Electric Vehicles. Volkswagen also did well, boosting diesel sales by 23 percent from a year earlier to 8,981 units while moving 438 of its new Jetta Hybrid model.

Such increases more than offset a relatively tepid month for General Motors, whose green car sales other than the Chevrolet Volt plunged last month. The Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu eAssist mild hybrid models saw their year-over-year sales decline by 50 percent and 17 percent, respectively, while low-volume SUV hybrid sales were down 20 percent. In total, GM sold 5,328 green cars, down 1.1 percent from June 2012. Audi diesel sales also fell, with numbers declined 42 percent to 380 units. Porsche hybrids followed suit, down 1.5 percent to just 66 units.

Still, the first half of the year went well for green-car manufacturers. Through June, Americans bought 318,346 hybrids, plug-ins and diesels, up 19 percent from a year earlier. Highlight the plug-in models and the numbers get even better, with Americans boosting sales of PHEVs and EVs by 83 percent to 30,655. Add in the Tesla, and plug-in sales through June may have exceeded the 40,000 mark, or more than 80 percent of 2012's full-year total.