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2015 Prius Sales Surprise Bucks Green Car Trend

The Prius always outsells EVs, but its December sales were almost shocking.


It is a sad time for EV advocates. Sales went down in 2015. Affordable EVs like the Nissan Leaf (down 42% for the year) and the Chevy Volt (down 18%) are not succeeding. Sales reports of the Leaf and Volt were made worse by the fact that both models were of the all-new designs in December and buyers didn’t seem to respond. Then there is the top-selling green car of all-time, the Toyota Prius hybrid. Its sales jumped in December. Here’s why that is so surprising.

Prius sales were up about 5% to the models’ recent high point of around 15,000 units. The Prius Plug-In did not contribute to that strong performance. California effectively killed the Plug-in once it kicked it out of its green-car “HOV” lane. Of course, the regular Prius got the boot a while ago. The Green Lanes (formerly car-pool lanes meant to reduce traffic) are now for battery electrics, meaning Tesla owners, BMW i3 BEV owners, and Leaf drivers. Despite being given the stink-eye by the state of California, the Prius had its best ever month for sales in the state in December. Keep in mind the Prius was long the top-selling car of any type in the state, so topping its prior sales rate in the “greenest state” of all is no small accomplishment.

Read What Reviewers Say About the New Prius HERE

Even more amazing, the Prius everyone just bought is about to be replaced by an all-new model next month. This is no secret. The new car gets about 10% better fuel efficiency and is improved in pretty much every way a green-vehicle driver cares about.

With gas inexpensive and electricity costs relatively pricey, the Prius now matches the cost per mile for energy of its all-electric peers in the green car world and comes with no range limits. If current energy trends continue into 2016, the new Prius’ 53 to 58 MPG could mean it is cheaper to operate in key markets compared to the BEVs, meaning incremental sales gains. If gas gets more expensive, Prius sales could explode once again.