U.S. Electric, Hybrid Car Sales Up 15 Percent in May Over 2016

PHEV figures alone went up by 45 percent.

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Green car sales have been on a drastic rise in comparison with this time last year—not all that surprising, given the wide number of brands looking for a stake in the segment. As electric cars have greatly improved in terms of price and range, consumers are viewing them as a more viable alternative to gasoline models, a shift which has helped many begin to see them as the future of the new car market. May 2017 saw a cumulative 15 percent increase in hybrid and electric sales over 2016, and with more big players coming later on this year, the category could easily go on to set more records throughout the year.

The most notable spike last month was with hybrid and PHEV vehicles, both of which went up significantly. Companies like Ford saw strong gains in these categories, as the Detroit automaker saw a 56 percent increase from over a year ago. Honda also pitched in to the trend with its efforts of the Accord Hybrid, helping to bring up segment-wide improvements.

Plug-in hybrid sales went up 45 percent in May 2017, nearly eclipsing 15,000 units for the first time. 

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Nissan and Volkswagen contributed to the uptick in the electric car market, along with Tesla. Nissan's soon-to-be-refreshed Leaf EV went up by 42 percent from 2016 to 1,392 units, and VW's e-Golf offering climbed 24 percent.

General Motors climbed the EV sales rungs as well, with the Bolt EV having a record month in May. The manufacturer sold 1,566 units of the new and affordable all-electric car.

All of this was enough to make up for the poor showings from the likes of Toyota, BMW, and Audi. Toyota still sits atop the green-car market, though May's numbers didn't reflect that. Overall sales for the segment went down 9.9 percent, thanks to the slumping Prius variants and Avalon Hybrid. Bimmer's i sub-brand fell by 38 percent from 2016, stumbling to just 524 units. Audi rounds things out with a 19 percent drop to 294 units.

Green car sales are up 18 percent over the course of the year, totaling up to 193,000 units so far in 2017. Plug-in hybrid numbers have increased nearly 50 percent from this time last year, so look for that trend to likely continue throughout the rest of 2017.