Hybrid, Electric Car Sales Running Out of Gas

Market isn't living up to expectations
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2014 8:15 AM CDT
Hybrid, Electric Car Sales Running Out of Gas
A Nissan Leaf charges at an electric vehicle charging station in Portland, Ore.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Gas prices have been pretty flat lately, and the automobile industry is responding with its best August sales figures in a decade. But hybrid and electric cars appear to be the casualty, with sales accounting for 3.6% of all vehicles sold thus far in 2014, down from 3.7% last year, reports MarketWatch, citing data from Edmunds.com. And while the electric car segment is showing growth, with pure EVs up 35% and plug-in hybrids up 44%, they still sell in such small numbers that "it's like a rounding error in the whole electric drive vehicle market," an Edmunds analyst tells the Los Angeles Times.

While Nissan reported a monthly record 3,200 Leaf EVs sold in August, up 34% from the first eight months of 2013, the gains don't begin to make up for a range of losses elsewhere, including by Tesla's luxury Model S electric sedan and the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, which are flat or falling. Time reports that flat gas prices, better fuel efficiency in gas vehicles, and the diminishing novelty of hybrid and plug-in vehicles all contribute to the lower-than-expected sales. "The whole automobile market has grown," says the Edmunds analyst. "We're not seeing electric vehicles as part of that growth." (While Consumer Reports named Toyota Prius the best green car of 2014, it named the pricey Tesla Model S the best overall car of the year.)

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