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January is generally a slow month in auto sales, as buyers and automakers offer incentives to close out the year in December, resulting in payback in January.

This was particularly true for plug-in vehicle sales, as many buyers bought in December to qualify for tax deductability on their 2012 return. While overall sales declined 23 percent from December, plug-in sales declined at a 39.5 percent rate. However, when compared to January 2012, plug-in sales grew significantly more than overall sales, although the absolute volumes were modest.

In December, plug-ins represented 0.57 percent of total sales. In January, this rate declined to 0.42 percent, which was above all rates prior to September 2012.

The Nissan Leaf will be limited in the first quarter given curtailed supplies from Japan and Tennessee, which will not ramp up to “regular” volumes until March or April.

Volt volumes were down due to both product availability and incentive activity in December that pulled sales ahead.

 



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