“Trump States” Lag Behind in ‘Green’ Car Sales

Suggesting an Economic Message for Green Cars Isn’t Resonating

[An Auto Insider Special Report]

by Peter Levy

Green cars — hybrids and electrics — are landing with a thud in areas of the country that, according to the narrative of the last presidential election, suffer the most economically, demonstrating that car buyers there just aren’t convinced that the potential fuel savings those vehicles offer outweigh perceived drawbacks.

That’s a conclusion from a new analysis of sales of all 22 car brands (other than Tesla) that sold green cars in the U.S. between October 2016 and March 2017.

Peter Levy, president and founder of Carjojo.

Despite the marketing hype, we know U.S. consumers just aren’t that into green cars, but interest really varies depending on where people live.
Economic Message for Green Cars Isn’t Resonating

Sales of Green Cars Lag Behind In Trump States

The Midwestern region* that helped usher President Trump into the White House — 75% of its electoral college votes went to Trump — had the lowest per capita** sales of green cars in Q4 2016: 1.04 sold for every 10,000 residents. It fell even lower in Q1 2017, to just 1.03 for every 10,000. The national average was 1.93 sold for every 10,000 in Q4 2016, and  2 for every 10,000 in Q1 2017.

Meanwhile, Southern states, which delivered 95% of their electoral college votes to Trump, come in second to the Midwest in the lowest per capita green-car sales — 1.22 sold for every 10,000 residents in  Q4 2016, slipping to 1.14 for every 10,000 in Q1 2017.

Car manufacturers face significant obstacles...

Car manufacturers face significant obstacles to making hybrid and electric cars appealing to American car buyers, and it seems that a cost-savings message isn’t connecting with populations who could likely benefit most from reducing their transportation costs, said Peter Levy, president and founder of Carjojo.

Green Car Sales In The Hillary Clinton States A Bit More Rosy

The picture — while far from perfect — is rosier for green car sales in the Western states that voted for Hillary Clinton. Those gave just 23% of their electoral college votes to Trump and had the largest per capita rate of green car sales in Q4 2016 — 4.26 for every 10,000 residents. That figure actually inched up in Q1 2017 to 4.6.

‘Green’ message just doesn’t resonate...

It’s likely the higher upfront cost of green cars is outweighing the lower long-term cost for buyers in these areas, and possibly the general ‘green’ message just doesn’t resonate as well, Levy said.

And the Northeast, the most anti-Trump region with just 19% of its electoral college votes awarded to Trump, saw the second-highest rate of green car sales in the quarters studied, although it trailed the West significantly. In Q1 2016, buyers purchased 1.34 green cars for every 10,000 residents,  and that number strengthened in Q1 2017 to 1.44.

Despite the marketing hype, we know U.S. consumers just aren’t that into green cars...

The West, and to a lesser extent the Northeast, distinguishes  itself from the rest of the country when it comes to the degree to which residents are willing to shell out dollars for plug-ins and hybrids. And with the rapid growth of charging-station infrastructure in California particularly, along with the steadily increasing range of EVs, the rate of adoption in the West is likely to dramatically increase, said Levy. 

The Toyota Prius Reigns Supreme

One area of agreement nationally: the Toyota Prius reigns supreme, as the number one most sold green car in every region by far. It makes up between 37% (in the West) and 49% (in the Northeast) of all green car sales in Q4 and Q1.

Prius is now synonymous with a ‘green’ car...

For American car shoppers, the Prius is now synonymous with a ‘green’ car. Demand for other hybrids and electrics just isn’t there yet, and dealers generally stock few of those vehicles on their lots. That’s particularly true for luxury-car buyers. We’re seeing dealers move mere handfuls of high-end ‘green’ cars, and shoppers for those cars are hard-pressed to find them even if they wanted them. Demand dictates supply, said Levy.

Sales of Green Cars Per Capita

Region Population Q4 sales Q4 2016 green car sales per 10,000 residents Q1 sales Q1 2017 green car sales per 10,000 residents Percent electors for Trump
Midwest 67,941,430 7081 1.04 7015 1.03 75%
Northeast 63,196,298 8443 1.34 9070 1.44 19%
West 76,657,000 32693 4.26 35272 4.60 23%
South 114,669,892 13977 1.22 13087 1.14 92%
TOTAL 322,464,620 62194 1.93 64444 2.00 57%

Sales of Green Cars by Region

Midwest sales (Q4 2016 and Q1 2017)

Make Q4 and Q1 sales Percent
TOTAL 14096
Toyota Prius 6212 44.07%
Honda 1580 11.21%
Toyota Camry & Avalon 1486 10.54%
Ford 1471 10.44%
Chevrolet 1383 9.81%
Lincoln 698 4.95%
Nissan 419 2.97%
Lexus 257 1.82%
smart 164 1.16%
Audi 151 1.07%
BMW 141 1.00%
Kia 34 0.24%
Subaru 26 0.18%
Volkswagen Jetta 23 0.16%
Mercedes-Benz 16 0.11%
Hyundai 14 0.10%
Infiniti 8 0.06%
Acura 7 0.05%
Chrysler 6 0.04%
Mitsubishi 0 0.00%
Volkswagen e-Golf 0 0.00%

West sales (Q4 2016 and Q1 2017)

Make Total Q4 and Q1 Percent
TOTAL 67965
Toyota Prius 25281 37.20%
Chevrolet 11786 17.34%
Ford 5132 7.55%
Nissan 4720 6.94%
Honda 3363 4.95%
Toyota Camry & Avalon 3347 4.92%
Fiat 2558 3.76%
Hyundai 2201 3.24%
BMW 2039 3.00%
Volkswagen e-Golf 2025 2.98%
Audi 1799 2.65%
Lexus 1133 1.67%
Lincoln 948 1.39%
Mercedes-Benz 738 1.09%
smart 729 1.07%
Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 57 0.08%
Infiniti 50 0.07%
Kia 31 0.05%
Acura 12 0.02%
Subaru 7 0.01%
Mitsubishi 6 0.01%
Chrysler 3 0.00%

Northeast Sales (Q4 2016 and Q1 2017)

Make Q4 and Q1 Percent
TOTAL 17513
Toyota Prius 8545 48.79%
Honda 1975 11.28%
Chevrolet 1969 11.24%
Toyota Camry & Avalon 1560 8.91%
Ford 965 5.51%
Lexus 428 2.44%
smart 421 2.40%
BMW 404 2.31%
Lincoln 361 2.06%
Nissan 313 1.79%
Audi 271 1.55%
Volkswagen e-Golf 86 0.49%
Subaru 59 0.34%
Mercedes-Benz 57 0.33%
Hyundai 44 0.25%
Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 34 0.19%
Infiniti 13 0.07%
Mitsubishi 5 0.03%
Acura 3 0.02%
Kia 0 0.00%

Southern Sales (Q4 2016 and Q1 2017)

Make Q4 and Q1 total sales Percent
TOTAL 27064
Toyota Prius 11911 44.01%
Honda 3311 12.23%
Ford 3203 11.83%
Hyundai 2102 7.77%
Toyota Camry and Avalon 1810 6.69%
Chevrolet 1758 6.50%
Nissan 766 2.83%
smart 556 2.05%
Lexus 540 2.00%
Audi 370 1.37%
BMW 298 1.10%
Acura 292 1.08%
Volkswagen 52 0.19%
Subaru 36 0.13%
Mercedes-Benz 22 0.08%
Infiniti 13 0.05%
Mitsubishi 11 0.04%
Chrysler 9 0.03%
Kia 4 0.01%
Fiat 0 0.00%
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 0 0.00%

Notes

*Regions defined as follows in this study.

West: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii.

Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin.

East: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware.

South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

 

**To calculate per capita sales, this study used 2016 state population estimates as listed here.

***The percent of electors for Trump was calculated by totaling  the electors in each region’s states that voted for Trump, and dividing it by the total number of electors casting votes in that region’s states.

Summary

Trump

  • Trump states had the lowest per capita** sales of green cars in Q4 2016: 1.04 sold for every 10,000 residents
  • Green car sales fell even lower in Q1 2017 in Trump states, to just 1.03 for every 10,000
  • Southern states come in second to the Midwest in the lowest per capita green-car sales — 1.22 sold for every 10,000 residents in  Q4 2016
  • Green car sales in Southern Trump states slipped to 1.14 for every 10,000 in Q1 2017

Clinton

  • Clinton states had the largest per capita rate of green car sales in Q4 2016 — 4.26 for every 10,000 residents. 
  • Green Car sales in Clinton states inched up in Q1 2017 to 4.6
  • Buyers in the Northeast, the most anti-Trump region, purchased 1.34 green cars for every 10,000 residents
  • Sales of green cars strengthened in Q1 2017 to 1.44 in the Northeast

About The Auto Insider Report

The Auto Insider Report is Carjojo’s monthly analysis and insight into the current state of the automotive industry. Each mini report takes a deeper look at a specific brand.

We analyze hundreds of millions of data points daily on nearly 100% of new cars on dealers’ lots — over 4 million vehicles (and growing) — across nearly all makes and models. This level of real-time market intelligence is unprecedented in our industry, and unique to Carjojo’s proprietary technology.  The aim of our report is to highlight key industry trends, including sales, inventory, bloat, and more, days or even weeks before any other report is made public.

If you have any questions or comments to our report, please feel free to contact us at hello@carjojo.com.

Thank you and enjoy.

-Carjojo Team

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