The HybridCars.com monthly sales dashboard is a collaboration of HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates, a Michigan-based market research firm focusing on automotive issues including the hybrid and electric vehicle market.

Sales of hybrid gas-electric cars started off 2011 with gains of 12 percent compared to a year ago. This bodes well for 2011—despite the fact that hybrid sales declined by 32 percent compared to December 2010. This monthly drop is not likely to continue moving forward, because automakers provided incentives to move consumers into the showroom in December to reach annual goals and January sales tend to decline as a result. In addition, higher gas prices, and expectations that they will continue to rise, has put fuel efficiency back on consumers’ minds.

The biggest sign of recovery is that Toyota—representing 70 percent of hybrid sales this month—enjoyed a 10 percent gain from year-ago results. Most of Toyota’s quality and PR problems faced in early 2010, which took a toll on the hybrid leader, are in the rear-view mirror. (Meanwhile, in Japan, the Toyota Prius gave up its leadership as the top-selling hybrid to the new Honda Fit Hybrid, now the least expensive hybrid in Japan at about $19,000.)

There were some apparent losers for Toyota, such as the Lexus HS 250h, which has been a solid seller. Sales of the luxury hybrid sedan fell by 75 percent compared to last month. That might not bode well for the upcoming Lexus CT 200h luxury hatch—but the drop could be explained by the possibility that Toyota limited volumes in the U.S. to avoid losing money on an unfavorable exchange with the Japanese yen.

Increased visibility this year for the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt ironically is likely to increase interest in other alternative fuel vehicles including hybrids and diesels, since price and the relatively modest availability of these electric cars may encourage customers to buy other products that still meet their interest in greater fuel economy. G.M. executives openly say that the Volt is intended to bring people to the Chevy showroom, where they might drive off with a Cruze or another more affordable fuel-efficient option. Production of these plug-ins are just getting off the ground, and sales are still counted in the hundreds.

In diesels, the big news in the coming year will be the Jetta and the forthcoming Passat. The Jetta has been redone—and priced downward to be more in the mainstream—and the Passat launching this summer will be similarly positioned. Potential volumes for the diesel engine are quite high given this change in positioning and the availability of their diesel engine.

2011 promises to be the biggest year ever for electric-drive and diesel vehicles—just in time for higher fuel efficiency standards that start to kick in in 2012.

January 2011 Hybrid Car Sales Numbers

Hybrids sold in the US (January 2011): 19,463
Hybrid Take-Rate: 2.38%

US hybrid sales for January 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. January 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Toyota Prius 10,635 -31.9% 12.1% 10,635 12.1%
Honda Insight 1,554 -5.1% 18.9% 1,554 18.9%
Ford Fusion 969 -34.9% -11.2% 969 -11.2%
Lexus RX450h 912 -40.6% -9.7% 912 -9.7%
Honda CR-Z 894 2.1% n/a 894 n/a
Toyota Camry 860 -30.1% -0.8% 860 -0.8%
Toy. Highlander 689 -27.4% 31.0% 689 31.0%
Honda Civic 653 -27.9% 158.1% 653 158.1%
Ford Escape 520 -40.7% -18.9% 520 -18.9%
Linc. MKZ Hybrid 370 -12.7% n/a 370 n/a
Altima 365 -40.4% -65.5% 365 -65.5%
Lexus HS 250h 286 -74.5% -77.1% 286 =77.1%
Porsche Cayenne 211 2.4% n/a 211 n/a
Chevy Silverado 192 68.4% 284.0% 192 284.0%
Cad. Escalade 99 -24.4% 90.4% 99 90.4%
Chevy Tahoe 66 -47.2% -56.9% 66 -56.9%
GMC Yukon 52 -57.0% -28.8% 52 -28.8%
Mazda Tribute 36 -25.0% -12.2% 36 -12.2%
BMW Hybrid 7 32 28.0% n/a 32 n/a
Mercedes S400 26 -38.1% -69.8% 26 -69.8%
GMC Sierra 21 -52.3% -55.3% 19 -53.7%
Lexus GS450h 19 -36.7% -53.7% 19 -53.7%
Lexus LS600hL 8 -52.9% -11.1% 8 -11.1%
BMW X6 5 -16.7% -78.3% 5 -78.3%
Mercedes ML450 1 0.0%/a -98.5 1 -98.5
All hybrids 19,463 -31.9% 12.1% 19,463 12.1%
All vehicles 816,653 -28.6% 17.2% 816,653 17.2%

January 2011 Plug-in Electric Car Sales Numbers

Plug-in cars sold in the US (January 2011): 408
Plug-in Take-Rate: 0.05%

US plug-in electric sales for January 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. January 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Chevrolet Volt 321 -1.5% n/a 321 n/a
Nissan LEAF 87 357.9% n/a 87 n/a
All plug-in cars 408 18.3% n/a 408 n/a
All vehicles 816,653 -28.6% 17.2% 816,653 17.2%

January 2011 Clean Diesel Car Sales Numbers

Clean Diesels sold in the US (January 2011): 6,241
Diesel Take-Rate: 0.76%

US clean diesel sales for January 2011

Model Units vs. last month vs. January 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
VW Jetta 2,938 -30.7% 41.1% 2,938 41.1%
BMW X5 643 -19.8% 19.3% 643 19.3%
Volkswagen Golf 578 -22.3% 191.1% 578 191.1%
Audi A3 471 79.8% 97.9% 471 97.9
Audi Q7 310 -34.9% 30.3% 310 30.3%
Mercedes GL320 279 -11.4% 87.2% 279 87.2%
Mercedes ML320 275 -33.3% 329.7% 275 329.7%
Mercedes E320 222 -29.7% 2,336.7% 222 2,336.7%
VW Touareg 170 347.4% 1.8% 170 1.8%
BMW 335d 160 -62.4% 22.1% 160 22.1%
Jeep Cherokee 152 -40.4% 130.3% 152 130.3%
Mercedes R320 43 59.3% 38.7% 43 38.7%
All clean diesels 6,241 -24.9% 59.5% 6,241 59.5%
All vehicles 816,653 -28.6% 17.2% 816,653 17.2%