Pickup trucks and midsize sedans are still dominating the U.S. sales charts, but a funny thing is happening with electric vehicles and hybrids.
Their sales are exploding.
Plug-in vehicles featuring electric-only power are selling 50 percent better in 2014 than in 2013. U.S. buyers hungered for plug-ins even more in May, with the 10,833 unit sales marking a 90 percent increase over 2013 stats. Of course, there are more plug-ins available than ever before, but other reasons have to be cited as well. Perhaps the obvious, still inconvenient truth about a warming planet is finally making the rounds.
In any event, the shift toward more efficient vehicles has proved to be a boon for automakers who have cars and trucks with high marks in fuel economy and reasonable emissions. One perfect example is the Ford Fusion, a popular midsize sedan. Sales were up 15 percent in May for the Fusion overall, but a look at the hybrid’s numbers reveals the source of a major boost. Ford sold 4,641 models of the Fusion Hybrid in May, up 39 percent from the previous year. To paraphrase a line from Arrested Development, there’s money in that banana stand.
Here are the top ten in sales among electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and standard hybrids among U.S. consumers in 2014. Included are the MSRP before destination charge for each automobile. Not included are the state and federal tax incentives offered for electric vehicles. Many thanks to Green Auto Blog and GoodCarBadCar.net for the statistics.
10. Honda Accord Hybrid
Even though the Honda Accord is one of the top five sellers in the U.S., it’s surprising how quickly the Accord Hybrid is finding its audience. At an EPA-estimated 50 city mpg (recently challenged by Consumer Reports), the base model ($29,155) makes practical sense for anyone interested in good fuel economy or a lighter carbon footprint. Through May 2014, 5,753 units of the Accord Hybrid have sold in the U.S. The green car’s performance in May was so solid (1,530 sales) it put the Accord Hybrid on pace with the Chevy Volt (1,684 sales).
9. Toyota Avalon Hybrid
Attractive and spacious, the Toyota Avalon has kept the automaker in the full-size market. The hybrid model ($35,555) adds a dose of high efficiency with 40 mpg in the city (39 mpg highway) to go along with the car’s standard 200 horsepower. Toyota sold 6,662 models of the Avalon Hybrid through May 2014, which marks a dip of 4 percent compared to 2013. In May, Avalon sales rose 29 percent.
8. Lexus CT200h
All told, Lexus hybrids actually outsold the entire lineup of GM hybrids and EVs through the first five months of 2014. Detroit, we have a problem. Toyota’s luxury and performance line posted 16,160 vehicles sold through May to GM’s 14,484 units. The Lexus CT200h ($32,050) can post 42 mpg combined in its travels, making it a slick and efficient way to get around. With 6,816 units sold through May 2014, CT200h sales are up 13 percent on the year.
7. Chevy Volt
GM’s top green performer had a decent May with a 5 percent increase in sales at 1,684 units. Through the first five months of the year, the Chevy Volt has posted 6,838 sales to U.S. consumers, which is down over 4 percent on the year compared to 2013 stats. The Volt — as well as the Cadillac ELR, which operates on the same drivetrain — can get between 35 and 40 miles of electric-only range before switching to the gas engine for a full vehicle’s range.
6. Ford C-Max Hybrid
This Ford hybrid keeps something of a low profile yet is still holding a spot in the top ten among U.S. green cars with 45 city mpg. Through May 2013, the C-Max Hybrid ($25,170) has posted 7,570 sales to U.S. auto consumers. In fact, that represents a tumble of of nearly 50 percent compared to 2013 sales. What’s the rumpus? The plug-in C-Max Energi ($32,920) is grabbing all the customers with 21 miles of electric range and 108 MPGe, giving Ford a cannibalizing situation. C-Max Energi plug-ins have sold 2,940 units in 2014, which is an increase of 45 percent. May sales of the Energi plug-in were up 74 percent.
5. Nissan Leaf
May was the Nissan Leaf’s month. The all-electric little guy can get 80 miles on a full charge and hit the mpg equivalent of 128 MPGe. Nissan sold 3,117 units of the Leaf ($28,980) in May, which marked a 46 percent increase over 2013 stats. Though the first five months of 2014, Leaf sales are up 36 percent with 10,389 units already on the books.
4. Tesla Model S
Tesla has firmly planted itself in the top ten of green cars sold in the U.S. With its flagship Model S ($71,070) priced way above the other entries on this list, it’s impresive that Tesla has moved “about” 10,761 through May 2014. That’s what a great car will do for you. Since Tesla doesn’t offer monthly sales quotes or separate U.S. stats from overseas figures, Green Auto Blog has to estimate the electric automaker’s monthly tally based on its quarterly reports. At the moment, the best guess puts Model S sales around 2,150 cars a month in the U.S.
3. Fusion Hybrid
Ford has a good-looking hybrid in its Fusion ($26,270), but the automaker also has a smart pricing strategy with this 47 mpg car costing just $2,265 more than the Fusion SE. The same strategy worked for the Lincoln MKZ (up 58 percent in 2014), but with the Fusion Hybrid Ford has the third-best selling green car in the U.S. (17,784 units) in 2014. Sales jumped 39 percent on the midsize beauty in May.
Ford’s Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid EV is having an even better year than the MKZ Hyrbid. With 4,296 cars sold through May 2014, the Fusion Energi Plug-in’s sales are up 260 percent.
2. Toyota Camry Hybrid
Like Ford, Toyota has recognized the impact an automaker can make in the U.S. by taking its beloved midsize sedan and adding an electric motor. Americans bought 17,897 models of the Camry Hybrid ($26,330) through the first five months of 2014, which is a decrease of 10 percent over 2013 even though sales were up 22 percent in May. As with most trail-blazing companies, it’s impossible to keep the lion’s share of the market when the competition realizes they must get on board. Four of the top ten for Toyota ain’t bad, anyhow.
1. Toyota Prius
It’s nothing shocking to find Toyota at the top of the list in U.S. hybrid and EV sales. The Japanese automaker has sold 88,452 units of the different Prius models to U.S. buyers through May 2014, which blew out the nearest competition (also a Toyota) by over 70,000 cars. Americans bought 51,760 units of the Prius Liftback alone alongside 16,992 units of the Prius V. Even the Prius plug-in (7,729 sales) would have placed No. 7 on its own if isolated on this list. Any way you slice it, Toyota has the country’s favorite green car by a landslide.
The Prius has long been the state of California’s most popular car, so one element of Toyota’s recipe for auto sales supremacy is clear: sell more cars than any other automaker in the biggest U.S. market. Californians have shown their willingness to embrace cleaner cars and backed it up at dealerships. If GM or Ford would like a bigger piece of the action on their home turf, Detroit’s Big Two would be advised to continue increasing their green car stables. There’s a lot of money up for grabs.