May Electric-Car Sales: Leaf Recovers, Volt And Prius Steady

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2012 Nissan Leaf

2012 Nissan Leaf

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The May sales figures for plug-in electric cars continued steady, with the Chevrolet Volt leading the pack at 1,680 deliveries--15 percent up on the April figure of 1,462, but below its all-time March high of 2,289.

The Nissan Leaf logged sales of just 510 units in May, barely starting a recovery from its April low of 370. June Leaf sales remained well below last May's level of 1,142.

Global Leaf production is constrained by limits on fabrication of the car's lithium-ion battery pack, cells for which are shared with an increasing number of Renault models as well. That problem is expected to ease later this year as lithium-ion cell plants in both the U.K. and Tennessee come on line.

As for the for the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which outsold both the Volt and the Leaf last month, 1,086 were delivered, for a year-to-date total of 3,638.

For the first five months of the year, Chevy has sold 7,057 Volts and Nissan delivered 2,613 Leafs--giving overall U.S. totals since December 2010 of 15,054 and 12,287 respectively.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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As for the third plug-in volume car to go on sale in the U.S., 85 copies of the Mitsubishi i electric minicar were sold last month--its best-ever monthly performance, bringing the total sold since last November's launch to an even 300--putting it in the second tier of plug-in sales.

Notably, Ford is expected to record its first Focus Electric sales since January when it releases its hybrid and plug-in sales breakdown on Monday.

The company confirmed that it has sold at least a few electric Focus conversions, though it couldn't confirm that Saturday's unpublicized delivery on Long Island was the very first Focus Electric sold to a retail buyer.

Plug-in carmakers Coda, Fisker, Tesla, and Wheego refuse to report monthly sales--the practice among conventional automakers--and so are not included in our monthly total.

2012 Ford Focus Electric, New York City, April 2012

2012 Ford Focus Electric, New York City, April 2012

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There are now approximately 30,000 plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads, four or five times as many as there were a year ago at this time.

And we firmly expect that the electric-car sales rate will continue rise, though it will be slow.

Later this year, a handful of so-called compliance cars from Chevrolet, Fiat, Honda, and Toyota will add to the total, but their numbers will be low.

The Volt, Leaf, and Prius Plug-In will continue to be the top sellers among plug-in electric cars, with 2012 Tesla Model S deliveries starting this month as well.

And the numbers roll silently on.


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Comments (20)
  1. Volt sales translate to 1/3 of a BILLION dollars in revenue for 2012. A billion in revenue for the year seems realistic if you include 10K in sales to Europe.

    Also, it appears that demand > supply right now for the car.

    Things are looking up.

  2. Great link to the inside-evs article. It does give a credible explanation for the Leaf's apparent sales failure; supply related after all. Weird though that Nissan never came up with this perfectly honourable explanation itself, or at least not that I know of.

  3. So 110 all electric Better Place Renault Fluence ZEs delivered in May in a country of 7 million, doesn't look too shabby versus 510 Leafs in a country of 300 million.

  4. Yeah, but now we know that is because the Fluence stole the Leaf's batteries!

  5. Stole? Renault and Nissan are business partners and sharing batteries was the plan from the beginning.

  6. Obviously....the joke was lost on you then apparently.

  7. Well, SF Bay Area had SIGNIFICANT Volt shortage in May. I helped that Volt sales number by picking up my Volt on the 30th of May. But plenty of buyers were still waiting for their Volt to arrive. The rumor is that >700 Volt were "late" arriving to the Bay Area for sales. They will arrive in the next 2-3 weeks. June sales should be good for the Volt as well.

    GM was stupid to shut down the plant. It should have switched the production to AT-PZEV Volts only for California.

  8. At the current pace, Volt will generate more than $600 Million dollars sales for GM. That is significant sales for any company.

  9. I guess the CR Prius C review has nothing to do with the Prius sales

  10. I think anyone who buy cars solely based on CR review aren't the brightest stars in the sky...

  11. I love CR, but sometimes you have to take these things with a grain of salt. Always, nice to have a second opinion (GCR for example) and a test drive.

  12. As much as I love the Volt, I have to admit that I have seen more Leaf (leaves) than the Volt(s) in the Bay Area so far... I did my job to change that... :)

  13. According to ABG 1086 plug-in Prius sold in may. So maybe not the Volt-lite the market prefers over the Chevy Volt after all? Time will tell.

  14. I agree, and that will be what is most interesting to me over the coming months. Tesla Model S will sell well for its limited volumes but how well will the PiP sell after the hardcore buyers are satisified in the initial months?

    Will the Volt sales increase later in the year due to fleet sales? How will the LEAF ever recover in sales or will Nissan have to wait until it launches a better EV?

  15. Prius Plugin sales dropped 34% from April to May...

  16. Not really, up to now ALL of the PiPs delivered where preorders, we all ordered them last October, the preorders are now mostly delivered. Going forward, we will see actual sales of new cars, not by "early adopters", that will tell the real story. BTW, I get between 12-15 miles of EV range, depending on speed, I have never gone just 6 miles only in EV, that's just ludicrous to even quote that.

  17. Say what you wish. EPA rate it 6 miles pure EV range. Sure, you can get 12-15 miles by driving it slowly (okay gently). But that is really slow compare to "normal" people driving. EPA rate the Volt 35 miles in EV range and Owners have gotten 45-50 miles in range. I have driven it for about day, my driving style couldn't get more than 2 miles in range. Everytime I accelerate away from the light by pressing down half way, the engine comes on. On the hwy, the engine comes on... For $32k, you are better off buying the regular Prius or the Volt.

  18. No more than 2 miles? With the Volt? What are you talking about? The worst I've ever done is 25 miles and that was when it was freezing cold. I have exceeded 50 on rare occasion, and my average is 35-40, just as advertised.

  19. Sorry I wasn't clear. I was talking about the Prius Plugin having less than 2 miles of "effective" EV driving range. I just got 40 miles in my Volt on the way home today. I was going 70mph+.

  20. I am going to make a wild guess and say that the 12-15 miles is in the "blended mode". After that point, the PiP switches back to its normal hybrid mode.

    Data suggests the PiP owners are doing 30% of their miles on electricity, which is not too shabby given the small battery size.

    Anyway, Mitch, ignore the naysayers and continue to let us know of your experiences (both good and bad).

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