It's not just the Volt: sales of all hybrids and electric vehicles are up

chevy volt"The return of $4 a gallon gasoline is generating new life for battery-powered vehicles," Auto News reported on April 5. "Electric-drive vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in models and pure battery-powered cars, were the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. auto market in the first quarter."

While rising gas prices can't be called welcome news for American consumers, better fuel economy softens the blow.

"There are a lot of concerns today that the electric car is going to solve," Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in the Auto News story. "People don't want to have to go to the gasoline station. They just want to fill their tank at home. They want to make sure they're not paying too much money for their gasoline bill every month."

Ghosn said he expected sales of the Leaf electric car will get another boost in August when Nissan begins producing it in the United States.

Meanwhile, how about the Volt? GM's announcement of plans to suspend production for five weeks, then to un-suspend the suspension, reducing it to four weeks, got a lot of attention, but the real news is that Volt sales were 50 percent higher in March than in any previous month. Why are they calling workers back to the plant a week sooner than scheduled? "We're doing it because we sold a lot," according to Mark Reuss, GM's North American chief.