The first quarter of the year produced stellar sales numbers for hybrids in general, as well as plug-in electric cars. More than 100,000 hybrids and plug-in cars — 113,457 — were sold in January, February, and March combined, against roughly 79,000 in the same period of 2011.
The vast bulk of those sales — 106,207 — were hybrids. The hybrid sales included not only much higher sales of the Toyota Prius, now a lineup of three models plus a plug-in, but also Buicks and Chevrolets fitted with the General Motors  eAssist mild-hybrid system.
All varieties of plug-in cars accounted for 7,250, according to data compiled by industry trade journal Automotive News. Plug-in sales totaled about 17,000 units for all of 2011, the bulk of them either the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle or the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car .
For 2012, the strong new plug-in entrant is the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, whose April sales beat those of both the Volt and the Leaf.
Analysts expect perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 plug-in cars to be sold in the U.S. during calendar 2012, against perhaps 400,000-plus conventional hybrids.
As always, the bulk of the hybrid sales will come from Toyota.