December sets new records for sales of hybrids and electric vehicles. And overall? 2012 was the ‘Year of the Green Car’

Wow! Those are some good numbers.

green-vehicle-sales-are-upDecember brought good news on sales of electric vehicles, both in monthly numbers and the year-end reports, and overall 2012 sales make it the “greenest new automobile fleet ever.”

The website InsideEVs reported that “December of 2012 will close out as the strongest month on record for plug-in vehicle sales, as the ever-widening choices of plug-in vehicles continue to expand, and consumers look to book their 2012 federal tax credit (up to $7,500) before years end.”

In particular, GM’s Built by Michigan Chevrolet Volt rebounded from slightly slower November sales to record a near-record 2,633 units sold in December, bringing their year-end total up to 23,451, triple that of 2011.

Sales of Ford’s C-Max Energi, also made here in Michigan, came down to earth a little bit in December after an incredible launch in November, but “demand was not the issue, as Ford ‘focused’ on getting the Fusion Energi ready to go to market and production of the C-Max Energi (and thereby dealer inventories) was adversely effected,” according to Inside EVs.

Overall in 2012, EV sales were up 228 percent over 2011, according to numbers reported by Luke Tonachel at the Natural Resources Defense Council. In the 2012 model year, “hybrid sales grew by 55 percent and plug-in electric vehicles sales jumped 228 percent,” he wrote.

What’s the secret?

“Government action played a role,” he said. “State and federal governments continued to support the up-take of plug-in electric vehicles with purchase incentives such as tax breaks. Last August, the Obama Administration finalized strong fuel-efficiency standards that will reach the equivalent of 54.5 mpg by 2025. These standards, which build upon standards covering model years 2012 to 2016, provide the auto industry with the certainty it needs to invest in fuel-saving technologies.”

And the long-term outlook? Global sales are likely to continue to go up steadily, reaching 3.8 million units by 2020, according to a column in Forbes, citing data from Pike Research.

Sales of plug-in electric vehicles like the Volt and the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt have gone up as the vehicles have become more widely available, and hybrids, which have been on the market for a decade, are now selling steadily.

Dave Hurst, senior research analyst with Pike Research quoted in the Forbes report, explains that overall sales of EVs are expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high and consumers increasingly seek alternatives to internal combustion engines. “Indeed, sales of plug-in EVs will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40 percent over the remainder of the decade, while the overall auto market will expand by only two percent a year, ” Hurst said.