August green-car auto sales continued their upward trend

After plateauing earlier this year, US green car sales are settling into a steady pattern of chalking up year-over-year increases in the 30 percent to 50 percent range. Last month, Toyota and Ford both sold their hybrids to a broader range of customers. Plug-in vehicle sales also received a boost after the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in, Nissan Leaf and Toyota RAV4 EV battery-electrics and Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Energi and Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrids all set monthly sales records. Add it up, and Americans bought 72,175 hybrids, plug-ins or diesels in August, up 46 percent from a year earlier. Plug-in sales rose even faster, doubling year-earlier figures to 9,431 units.

Add it up, and Americans bought 72,175 hybrids, plug-ins or diesels in August, up 46 percent from 2012.

Toyota continues to be the green-car leader by far, boosting sales 34 percent from a year earlier to 38,799 units. Prius sales rose 28 percent to 27,358 units as all four Prius variants improved their year-over-year numbers. Notably, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid sold a monthly record 1,791 units. The RAV4 EV moved a record 231 units, or almost 10 percent of Toyota's total allotment.

Ford also continued its surge in green car sales as well, almost quadrupling 2012 numbers to 8,292 units. The Fusion Hybrid more than tripled August 2012 sales to 3,694 vehicles, while the C-Max Hybrid sold 2,411 vehicles. Additionally, both the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrids set monthly sales records by moving 600 and 621 units, respectively.

Nissan and Honda also fared well in August with their green-car sales. Nissan's monthly-record 2,420 Leaf EVs were more than three times the August sales of a year ago. Honda's green-car sales jumped 27 percent to 1,857 units, with the Civic Hybrid, CR-Z and Insight hybrids each improving sales by at least 20 percent from August 2012.

Audi's diesel sales doubled to 1,180 units.

Volkswagen and its Audi unit each had increased green-car sales as more Americans bought diesels. VW diesel sales rose 40 percent to 12,264, while Europe's biggest automaker moved 712 units of its recently introduced Jetta Hybrid. And Audi's diesel sales doubled to 1,180 units.

In fact, the only major green-car maker to lag its 2012 sales numbers was General Motors. The company's Chevrolet division did increase Volt sales by 18 percent from a year earlier to a monthly record 3,351 Volts and moved 430 of its newer Cruze Diesel models. Still, sales dropped substantially for the Buick LaCrosse and Regal eAssist mild hybrids as well as for GM's hybrid SUVs. Overall, GM green-car sales fell 3.7 percent to 6,578 vehicles.

For the lower-volume producers, Mitsubishi i EV sales fell 19 percent to 30 units while sales of Porsche hybrids were down 63 percent from a year earlier to 43 units. Daimler's Smart division, which in July sold 58 of its ForTwo EVs, didn't submit August sales numbers for that model as of late Thursday.

So far in 2013, green-car sales are up 26 percent to 450,392 units.

Through the first eight months of the year, green-car sales rose 26 percent to 450,392 units. Plug-in sales surged 89 percent to 46,120 units, and those numbers don't include the Tesla Model S. Tesla, which sold 5,150 all-electric vehicles during the second quarter, doesn't report monthly sales.