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09 01 2018 03

The year that started off with the bang of big expectations for increased U.S. green-car sales from new models ended with a whimper as December marked yet another dropoff in demand for hybrids and plug-in vehicles.

U.S. green-car sales, which lagged about 1 percent from a year earlier in November, fell more than 10 percent last month to about 44,000 units. Plug-in vehicles alone, by our best estimate (Tesla doesn't release monthly U.S. sales figures), were up less than 1 percent at about 17,000 vehicles.

The likely cause was potential buyers who continue to wait patiently for the next-generation Nissan Leaf EV and the Tesla Model 3. Nissan was preparing first deliveries of the next-gen Leaf at the end of last month, and sold just 102 of the old Leaf model in December, down 95 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, production issues continue to plague Tesla and its efforts to make the Model 3 en masse. As a result, about 1,500 Model 3s were delivered last quarter, and the company said it won't reach its goal for 5,000 vehicles a week by mid-2018.

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