2014 in Review: The Year’s Top Green Car Stories

Growing Against Resistance


A budding tuner's market for EVs is starting as exemplified by this Model S stylized by T Sportline.

A budding tuner’s market for EVs is starting as exemplified by this Tesla Model S stylized by T Sportline.


As 2014 winds down and with 2015 about to unfold, alternative-energy transportation had ups and downs this year, but the trend is generally upward and more progress is in sight.

Looking at the most telling of markers – actual new car sales – hybrids fell back from 2013 levels while plug-ins climbed higher, and diesel passenger vehicles remained flat.

December 2014 sales are not yet finalized, but a solid indication for this year’s U.S. market can be seen by comparing the first 11 months of 2013 to those of 2014.

From January through November 2014, approximately 419,000 hybrids were sold compared to 460,000 for January through November 2013. Diesels by November 2014 were at 128,000 compared to 126,000 in November 2013; the single natural gas car – Honda’s Civic Natural Gas – dropped from 2,020 units in 2013 to 711 sales by November this year.

SEE ALSO: Retrospective: Four Years of Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt

The big news for 2014 is for all-electric and plug-in hybrid sales. Through November 2013, the combined plug-in market had 86,812 units sold. This year it’s at 111,396 and that beats total sales for calendar year 2013 of 96,602. Individually, battery electric cars are at 55,396 through November 2014, and plug-in hybrids are at 51,490.

Regardless what gasoline might cost these days, or how much more plug-ins may cost over conventional cars, these vehicles are on the rise. Why? Global regulations are pushing automakers to innovate, consumers are catching on, and the underlying reasons for this remain, including the need to curb environmental consequences and petroleum consumption.

Following are 11 of 2014’s top developments and stories – mostly U.S. oriented, with global news included. We won’t declare which is more important, but all play into the broader picture with ramifications into the future.