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Top 10 High-MPG Cars (Jan.-Oct. 2014)

Electric Vehicles & Plug-in Hybrids Outpace Market; Hybrids and Diesels Lag

The 2015 models are here, but we like to look at the calendar year to get a sense of sales trends. We’re heading into the winter slow-selling season so here’s a last check-in on sales of new high-efficiency cars and SUVs. We take a look at four main categories—pure electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and clean diesels and offer you the Top 10 high-MPG cars.

It’s been a good year for the auto industry overall as sales have remained solid all year and ended October more than five percent ahead of last year. The cars we care about have been more of a mixed bag so far this year, faced with dropping gas and diesel prices and a generally improving economy. The end result is the two biggest sales categories, hybrids and diesels, are not keeping pace with overall new car sales. Hybrids are down 8.4 percent compared to last year’s first 10 months while diesels are up 4.2 percent, but that puts them just a bit more than one percent below the overall market. Meanwhile, the good news is pure electrics and the plug-in hybrids both are running well ahead of the market with increases of 27.7 and 22.5 percent respectively.

The hot sales of the highest mileage cars is good news in this tough market for this kind of cars. The electric Nissan Leaf is well on its way to a record year and almost of all of the now 12 (!) EVs that are for sale are having solid sales. With plug-ins, there are now eight vehicles on the market, split between high-end cars like the BMW i8, Cadillac ELR and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid and more mainstream models like the Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion and C-Max Energi, Toyota Prius Plug-in and Honda Accord Plug-in.

Our composite Top 10 from these categories is a familiar mix if you’ve read earlier versions of this list, but there is a newcomer who may be joining soon—the BMW i3. This compact comes in pure electric and range-extended models (though its small engine is designed purely as a backup, not like the larger ones founds in plug-ins from Chevy, Ford and Toyota. It’s a unique car and we’ll have a full test up soon. We’ve driven it in short stints around town and on the freeway and we’re impressed so expect a pretty upbeat review.

So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 High-MPG cars with their year-to-date sales (January-October 2014) and their fuel economy ratings. We’re using data from Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates as well as the mpg numbers from fueleconomy.gov. We’ve also included links to Clean Fleet Report tests and articles on the featured vehicles.

  1. Toyota Prius

YTD Sales  Change from previous year    MPG

105,939 -15.6%                                  51 MPG City

  1. Toyota Camry Hybrid

34,847                   -10%                                      43 MPG City

  1. Toyota Prius c

34,756                   -3.9%                                     53 MPG City

  1. Volkswagen Jetta TDI

32,360                   -15.2%                                  42 MPG Hwy

  1. Ford Fusion Hybrid

30,710                   -3.2%                                     44 MPG City

  1. Toyota Prius V

25,985                   -15.2%                                  44 MPG City

  1. Volkswagen Passat TDI

25,558                   -15.7%                                  43 MPG Hwy

  1. Nissan Leaf

24,411                   +35%                                     126 MPGe City

  1. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

19,374                   +9%                                       40 MPG Hwy

  1. Ford C-Max Hybrid

16,563                   -34.8                                      42 MPG City

Bubbling just below the Top 10 are some other significant vehicles–the top-selling plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt (No. 11 with 15,979 sold), Lexus CT200h (14,743), Toyota Avalon Hybrid (14,682), Tesla Model S (13,200-an estimate since the company doesn’t release monthly sales figures) and the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (12,321) and. Other encouraging signs are that the new BMW i3 electric car appears to be showing strong sales (with more than 4,000 sold in the brief time it’s been on the market) and the robustness of vehicle offerings in these four categories. Of course, a challenge along with low gas prices is the increased efficiency of non-hybridized gas cars. We’ll be doing a roundup soon of all of the offerings now crowding the 40 mpg club.

Related stories you might enjoy:

Welcome to the new MPG Clubs

Best electric cars and plug-in hybrids for 2014

Top 10 electric car makers


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About Author: Michael Coates

is editor and publisher at Clean Fleet Report and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of The Enthusiast Network), Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the Board of the Western Automotive Journalists.

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