Vehicles with alternative power sources have done very well in the first six months of 2012, benefiting from market force changes seen in the larger US auto market including higher gasoline prices. The sales trend comes at a time when automakers and dealers are seeing cars do better than trucks – overall, small cars are doing well along with hybrids, minivans, and traditional mid-size SUVs while big SUVs flounder.
Alternative powertrain vehicles – traditional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles, posted sales growth of 71% through June. The Toyota Prius led the segment with 126,654 unit sales, a 90% increase over last year, benefiting from post-Japan quake recovery and having several new models under the Prius nameplate. The Chevy Volt has also benefited from fuel price volatility with its 2012 sales. Plug-in electric vehicles have a long way to go to reach high volume sales, but they are finding an audience. Hybrid technologies could be a channel for more of that growth, such as plug-in hybrids like the Volt and its competitors finding interested buyers.