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Hybrid and electric cars see record sales in March

Published: April 14, 2012 | 7:38 am
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DETROIT — Americans are buying record numbers of hybrid and electric cars as gas prices climb and new models arrive in showrooms, giving the vehicles their greatest share yet of the U.S. auto market.

Consumers bought a record 52,000 gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars in March, up from 34,000 during the same month last year.

The two categories combined made up 3.64 percent of total U.S. sales, their highest monthly market share ever, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank. The previous high was 3.56 percent in July 2009, when the Cash for Clunkers program encouraged people to trade in old gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars.

Buyers were drawn by new models such as the Toyota Prius C subcompact, the Prius V wagon and Camry hybrid. Gas prices near or above $4 per gallon added to the cars’ attraction.

GM sold just 7,671 Volts last year, below its goal of 10,000. But in March, it set a new monthly record of 2,289 for the Volt, an electric car with a small backup gas engine. Sales of the all-electric Leaf nearly doubled to 579.

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