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USA: Gas prices starting to boost EV sales

There’s nothing like $4 gas to spur sales of small, energy-efficient vehicles, including the fledgling electric models now on the market.

Auto sales that stalled in recent years are revving up in 2012.

LMC Automotive, a consulting firm based in Troy, Mich., noted that U.S. sales of new cars and trucks in March made it the best month for the auto industry since May 2008.

General Motors reported sales of small models like the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic were up 60 percent in March over the same month last year.

“Fuel prices drive people to look at alternatives,” said Gary Uftring, who owns six dealerships in central Illinois.

One of those alternatives is the electric car. Sales of Chevy’s Volt surged in March with more than 2,000 cars sold nationally, Uftring said.

That contrasted with poor sales earlier in the year that led to Chevrolet suspending Volt production for five weeks (it starts up again Monday).

“We sold three Volts last month. In fact, we only have one left in stock,” said Uftring, who defends the car against political criticism.


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