Proponents of advanced-powertrain vehicles may want us to start including the Tesla Model S in their monthly US calculations. Even though Tesla doesn't give out monthly sales totals, without counting sales of the luxury electric sedan, the green-car story just isn't getting much better.
After showing healthy growth prospects for most of the year, US green-car sales have been bumping along a similar path as last year's since September, when year-over-year sales actually fell. October 2013's overall sales numbers increased 4.3 percent, and November remained tepid as Americans bought 47,916 hybrids, plug-ins and diesels, just a 3.4-percent advancement. Plug-in vehicle sales fared better, though their growth slowed markedly, too, to 14 percent.
Plug-in vehicle sales fared better, though their growth slowed markedly, too.
And while we usually lead this story with Toyota, the automaker even more representative of last month's results was actually Ford. The Blue Oval's green-car sales fell 1.9 percent from a year ago to 7,019 units, as sales of the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid plunged 59 percent and 25 percent from a year ago, respectively.
Toyota tread water, as a 9.8 percent increase in Prius liftback sales was offset by declines in demand for the compact, wagon and plug-in hybrid Prius variants. And, while Toyota moved 1,532 of its newer Avalon Hybrids, Camry Hybrid sales were down 24 percent to 2,994 vehicles. Sales of hybrids wearing Toyota's Lexus badge declined 5.2 percent to 3,530 units. Overall, Toyota's green-car sales remained mostly steady, falling just 0.4 percent to 24,579 vehicles.
General Motors also had a down month, with advanced-powertrain sales falling 4.6 percent from a year earlier to 3,657 units. While Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in sales jumped 26 percent to 1,920 units and the newer Cruze Diesel model moved 546 vehicles, sales of mild-hybrid models such as the Buick LaCrosse and Regal, and Chevrolet Malibu eAssist dropped substantially.
GM also had a down month, with sales of mild-hybrid models dropping substantially.
Even Volkswagen, which had consistently been selling more and more diesels this year, fell off, with November sales declining 4.7 percent from a year earlier to 6,847 vehicles. Small-volume producers like Mitsubishi (with its i electric vehicle) and Porsche (with its two hybrids) also suffered from lower demand.
In fact, the bright spot for November was Honda, whose green car sales almost doubled from 2012 to 2,393 units on the newer Accord Hybrid and Accord Plug-in Hybrid sales. Civic Hybrid sales also almost doubled, while CR-Z sales were up 21 percent. Nissan also continued to see consistently higher demand, with sales of its all-electric Leaf increasing by 30 percent from a year earlier, to 2,003 units. Audi more than doubled its diesel sales to 1,344 vehicles.
November's bright spot was Honda.
Year-to-date, green-car sales are up 20 percent from a year earlier to 593,204 units, while plug-in sales have jumped 60 percent to 69,249 vehicles.