The sale of diesel cars in 2011 rose dramatically compared to just a year ago, increasing by nearly 40 percent. The best-selling diesel model in 2011 was the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, with almost 60,000 units sold. Its stable-mate, the Volkswagen Golf TDI, while not selling nearly as well, still managed to rank second in sales with close to 1,000 sold. Third-best selling car was the BMW X5 xDrive35d, selling about 600 units.

Industry experts point to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan as a major factor, as hybrid vehicle availability was significantly reduced as a result. Despite this advantage, the Toyota Prius still managed sales of almost 75,000 units. Supply issues have likewise affected some electric car sales, notably the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera.

Though they are expected to gain significantly in sales overall, it remains to be seen whether the economy will remain a force in car-buyers’ opting for more affordable gas-powered models, or if recovery from the supply issues that have plagued some green alternatives will boost their sales even further.