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Record GM, Nissan plug-in U.S. sales in August

GM deliveries of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in, above,

GM deliveries of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in, above, surged last month, up 18 percent from a year earlier. Credit: Handout

General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co., the biggest sellers of rechargeable cars, posted record U.S. plug-in sales in August as their low-cost leases pushed battery-vehicle deliveries this year past 2012's tally.

GM delivered 3,351 Chevrolet Volt plug-in sedans last month, up 18 percent from a year earlier, and Nissan's all-electric Leaf hatchback sales more than tripled to 2,420, the companies said Wednesday.

U.S. plug-in hybrid and battery car sales totaled 57,976 in 2013's first eight months, more than the 51,938 for all of last year, data compiled by Bloomberg and Autodata Corp. show.

Initially sluggish sales of rechargeable cars are accelerating on cheap leases and price reductions.

GM, Nissan and Honda Motor Co. were already touting leases on plug-ins of $199 to $299 a month when Toyota Motor Corp. in August added a $299-a-month deal for its slow-selling RAV4 EV, powered by a Tesla Motors Inc. powertrain. It also set a sales record last month.

Through August, the Volt from Detroit-based GM leads the Leaf produced by Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan, 14,994 to 14,123.

U.S. sales of electric-drive cars and light trucks -- ranging from hybrids to plug-in hybrids to battery-only cars -- are up 28 percent this year through August to at least 399,070, based on Bloomberg and Autodata figures. Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota, led by the Prius, dominates the segment with 248,134 such sales this year.

Prices of such vehicles range from $30,000 to more than $100,000 for Tesla's premium Model S sedan before U.S. and state tax credits and government discounts.

Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid, had a 30 percent increase last month to 27,358 units, the company said. Toyota has said it plans to sell a record 250,000 this year.

"That's more than last year's Acura and Volvo sales combined," Bob Carter, Toyota's U.S. senior vice president, told reporters at an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit.

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