Despite a late-year slowdown in US green-car sales growth, Americans in 2013 snatched up hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and diesels at a rate that would make most industries envious.
Automakers sold 662,821 green cars in the US last year, up 20 percent from 2012. Those numbers include the all-electric Model S from Tesla Motors, which doesn't disclose monthly figures but did release sales numbers through the end of the third quarter (we've extrapolated fourth-quarter numbers based on the third-quarter sales rate, and will update those figures once Tesla finalizes fourth-quarter numbers in February). Looking at plug-in vehicles only, the numbers are even more impressive, as sales jumped 87 percent from 2012 to 98,426 units. Again, that includes the almost 21,000 Model S vehicles Tesla likely sold.
As always, the Toyota Prius was the green-car leader, though the model may have hit a maturity level of sorts and 2013 sales across the hybrid's four variants fell a percentage point to 234,228 units. The standard Prius liftback was easily the biggest selling single green model of last year, moving 145,172 units. Overall, Toyota boosted green-car sales by 5.3 percent to 344,892 units. That gain was almost exclusively attributable to the Avalon Hybrid, whose 2013 sales jumped to 16,468 units from just 747 in 2012.
As always, the Toyota Prius was the green-car leader.
When it came to 2013 growth rates, however, Ford and Nissan came out best, with each more than doubling green-car sales from a year earlier. Ford sold 87,776 units, as the Fusion and C-Max Hybrids moved 37,270 and 28,056 units, respectively, while the C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid tripled year-earlier sales to 7,154 units. The Nissan Leaf EV, meanwhile, saw sales surge on up to 22,610 from 9,819 a year earlier, as the Japanese automaker cut the price and moved US production to its Tennessee plant.
Honda used recent additions such as the Accord Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid to turn around its green-car fortunes and boosted 2013 sales by 13 percent to 20,616 units. Honda sold 7,719 Civic Hybrids while moving more than 4,000 units each of the Insight and CR-Z.
Honda's new models turned around its green-car fortunes.
Volkswagen and its Audi unit also fared will last year. VW boosted green-car sales by 12 percent to 101,478 units, including more than 5,600 Jetta Hybrids. Audi more than doubled its diesel sales from a year earlier to 10,076 vehicles. And Daimler's Smart ED electric vehicle moved 923 units for the year.
Not doing so hot was General Motors, which turned early-in-the-year gains into deficits as demand for both its Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and other mild hybrids waned. Volt sales dropped 1.6 percent from 2012, down to 23,094 vehicles. Chevy Malibu eAssist sales fell 17 percent from a year earlier, while Buick LaCrosse eAssist sales plunged 38 percent. Overall, GM green-car sales dropped 9.9 percent last year.
Overall, GM's green-car sales dropped 9.9 percent last year.
Finally, some small volume models simply remained small. Mitsubishi moved just 1,029 units of its i electric vehicle, which actually marked a 75 percent jump from 2012. More (less?) impressively, Porsche sold just 164 of its Panamera Hybrids last year. Only Honda's FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, with just 10 units, made less of a sales dent, and that's a special case anyway.