2016 was the third straight year Americans bought fewer hybrids, plug-ins, and diesels than the year before. Even so, we have all the signs for the industry to get well in 2017, and show positive sales and new records.
Last year, green car sales fell about 11 percent from the previous year, to about 446,000 units. We say “about” because Tesla Motors continues to be cagey when it comes to breaking out how many of its electric vehicles were purchased in the US, while South Korea’s Hyundai and its sister company Kia are among those who won’t break out hybrid sales at all. 2016’s plug-in sales likely jumped 27 percent to about 130,000 units. Also, Volkswagen’s stop-sale on diesels in November 2015 means that the German automaker’s green car sales are on even footing from here on out. Granted, the steady decline — green-car sales totaled more than 660,000 units in 2013 — is also mirrored by demand for hybrid standard-bearer the Toyota Prius. Combined sales of the four Prius variants fell 26 percent last year to almost 137,000 units, though late-year sales were helped by the introduction of the newest generation of the Prius Prime Plug-in.