During the first months of last year, when fuel prices were heading to new record heights, consumers were finally turning their attention to small, efficient cars and the crop of alternative-power vehicles.
But the likes of Toyota’s Prius or Nissan’s Leaf are in for tough times now as the fuel costs have gone down by around one dollar to the gallon across the country and automakers have been wreaking havoc through their production lines of fuel-efficient models, be it compact cars, hybrids or battery electrics. The buyers heading once more to the not so efficient SUVs and large pickup trucks is another challenge for the auto industry, as it needs to align with the new fuel economy mandates enforced for next year and they will only become tougher towards the current 2025 goal. So, the carmakers have no move other than sticking to their ambitious goals to deliver new electrics, hybrids and plug in hybrids to the market in the coming years.
Meanwhile, sales of the Nissan Leaf, the world’s best selling battery-electric car, have gone down 23 percent to 9,816 units during the first six months of the year, which could lead to the slowest pace since 2012. General Motors saw its Volt plug in hybrid plummet 35 percent during the same period, to 5,622 vehicles, after in 2014 the sales dipped 14 percent. The various alternative drive Ford vehicles have also dropped around 30 percent this year and Honda’s crop of green models have also slipped 21 percent after the first half of the year. And even Toyota, the spearhead of such green models, saw its iconic Prius family fumble 16 percent, with the plug-in hybrid version off a massive 69 percent.