October Plug-In Electric Car Sales: Volt, Leaf Stay Strong

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2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit

2011 Chevrolet Volt plugged into Coulomb Technologies 240V wall charging unit

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The good news for plug-in electric car sales just keeps on keeping on.

In October, Chevy sold 2,961 Volts--the highest-ever single-month total--and Nissan continued a recent resurgence, selling 1,579 Leafs.

Those numbers compare with 2,851 Volts sold in September and 984 Leafs the same month.

That brings 2012 sales for each car to 19,309 for the Volt and 6,791 for the Leaf.

October sales of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, the third of the three best-selling plug-in cars in the U.S. market, totaled 1,889 units--its best month ever, bringing the year's total to 9,623.

For the second-tier players, Mitsubishi sold 30 'i' battery-electric cars in October, bringing the year's total to 469.

In a first, more than 100 Ford Focus Electric hatchbacks were sold in October: 118 to be specific.

And in a surprise, Ford also sold 144 of the plug-in hybrid Ford C-Max Energi--earlier than expected--meaning that the company sold more than 250 plug-in cars in a month for the first time ever.

To round up the compliance cars that recently went on sale, there were 16 Honda Fit EVs leased in October, along with sales of 47 Toyota RAV4 EV all-electric crossovers.

As for the Tesla Model S, it would appear that Tesla just built its 1,000th body for the all-electric luxury sport sedan last weekend, but we don't know how many cars it delivered.

Because Tesla refuses to release monthly sales figures, as every other automaker does, we can only estimate that--at best--Tesla delivered a few hundred Model S cars to buyers.

Of the other makers of plug-in electric cars, Coda Automotive and Fisker Automotive decline to provide any monthly sales data.

Overall, the sales reports for October put plug-in sales on track to reach 35,000 to 40,000 sales for the calendar year 2012.

That number would be more than twice the total of roughly 17,500 sold in 2011.

But then, plug-in electric cars are a sales failure--at least if you listen to some news outlets.

With two months left, what's your prediction for the final 2012 sales total for plug-in electric cars?

Leave us your best estimate in the Comments below.


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Comments (25)
  1. Ford C-Max sold over 3,100 units. I wonder how many of that are the Energi models...

    I think Volt will easily be more than 3x the 2011 number at 24,000 or more.

    Leaf, with the current leasing deals, should be better than 8-9k by the end of the year.

    Prius Plugin should be doing well since its CA dealers (SF Bay Area) are advertising 0.9% deals and $299 Leasing deal heavily (one dealer even had a $199/month deal as well).

  2. They haven't sold any C-Max Energi's yet. But I expect they will sell plenty in 2013.

  3. I call BS on that. I have seen at LEAST 2 C-Max Energi on the road in CA. One is red color, on the HWY US-101 about last week and another one is White, also in the North Bay.

    The red one was loaded with suit cases in the back with a kid in the backseat and a couple in the front seat. The white one was driven by a single middle aged lady by herself...

  4. @Xiaolong: How do you know they were C-Max Energi models, not C-Max Hybrids? (a) Did they have the power port on the LF fender, and or 'Energi' badges? (b) Did they have MFR manufacturer plates rather than standard civilian plates for your state?

  5. Neither had offical CA civilian plates. Red one had some kind of "plate". White one had NO plate (only dealer tag).

    Red one had "energi" label on it. I played a "tag" game where I passed him and he passed me. The Red one even had a lot of "dirt" on it which seemed to show a "long trip" of some kind. I can see the suitcases in the back where they were stacked vertically across (so I can see them in the glass portion of the tailgate). There was a lady in the passenger seat and child in the back seat. The driver and passenger looked like a couple in the mid 30s.
    The white one was really brief at a stop light where the car was turning left. It had a charge port on the driver side, clearly in my view.

  6. If I see any of them again, I will take a pic and post on FB.

    I was paying more attention in checking out the car out instead of focusing on the plates. The red one was going fast, we were doing 80mph on US-101... It looked like it had plenty of power keeping up with my Volt (even with 2 adults and 1 kid and some suitcases).

  7. @Xiaolong: I stand corrected. I've just updated the story to reflect that Ford sold not only 118 Focus Electrics but also 144 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids.

    October sales of C-Max Energis are a couple of months before the company had said they were to go on sale--and before any of us has actually driven the damn thing. (That'll happen later this month.)

  8. There are more comments in this thread
  9. I wonder how many "naysayers" are going to come out and start the "bashing" game again.

    In the month of October,

    Volt sold better than ALL Lexus car models except the ES lines.
    Volt sold better than Yaris, Avalon, any of the Scion models.
    Volt sold better than all Lincoln Models.
    Volt sold better than all Infiniti models.
    Volt sold better than all BMW car models except for 3 and 5 series. It also sold better than any of the Mini Cooper models.
    Volt sold better than all models of Mercedez except for C and E class.
    Volt sold better than all Acura car models and only MDX sold better than the Volt among the Acura truck models. It also did better than the Honda Insight, Civic Hybrid and CR-Z.

  10. Continued,

    Volt also sold better than all VW models except for Jetta and Passat.

    Volt outsold every models of Audi.
    Volt outsold all models of Mazda except for Mazda3 and CX-5.
    Volt outsold Hyundai Genesis, Equus, Veracruz, Veloster and Azera models.
    Volt outsold Compass, Caliber, Challenger, Nitro, Dakota models from Chrysler.
    Volt outsold Kia's Rio, Sportage, Sedona models.
    Volt outsold all Mitsubishi models.
    Volt outsold Subaru's hot BRZ model, Tribeca and XV Crosstrek. it even outsold the WRX by Subaru.

    Even compared with GM's own models, Volt outsold, Avalanch, Aveo, Colorado, Corvette(by more than 2x), Spark, Canyon, Savana, Yukon, Yukon XL, Regal, CTS, DTS, Escalades, STS, XTS.

  11. The Volt is a hit, pure and simple. The "deniers" will have to get over it. It's looking like 25,000+ this year and -- depending on things like gas prices -- perhaps 35,000-40,000 next year. That's U.S. only of course. Here's the Prius' early years:

    1997 0.3
    1998 17.7 17.7
    1999 15.2
    2000 19.0
    2001 29.5
    2002 28.1
    2003 43.2

    (all figures in 1000s)

    Oh, yes, in 2011 it's going to be about 1 million Priuses across the family.

    At this point in its life, the Volt is growing faster than the Prius did even though Chevrolet's reputation is nowhere as strong as Toyota's was. The future of the Volt -- and EREVs -- is incredibly bright.

  12. I cite this data all the time, but a lot of folks just don't get it. The Volt is a "failure" meme got started in 2011 when the car missed it's 10k goal after the ludicrous fire stories.

    Then Reuters piled on with their ridiculous story where they claimed massive losses on every Volt sold by assigning total program costs only to existing vehicles, instead of amortizing it over the entire production run.

    Even the current reported sales pace of ~36k cars/year is understating the success of the Volt by not accounting for global sales of the Volt and it's rebadged siblings. Globally Volt is starting to push closer to a 50k/year sales pace.

  13. you're article seems to have contradictory statements:

    "Because Tesla refuses to release monthly sales figures, as every other automaker does, ..."


    "Of the other makers of plug-in electric cars, Coda Automotive and Fisker Automotive decline to provide any monthly sales data."

  14. Putting Tesla in the worst possible light is SOP in articles by this author I'm afraid.

  15. Might just be jet lag, the author has been traveling.

  16. Personally I blame Elon Musk: he really is the Obama of the car world. You either love him for being a bringer of real change or you recent him for being a charlatan and a fraud.

    Just joking of course... the Model S seems to be the most polarizing vehicle since the Prius though.

  17. @Steve: Thanks for the nudge on imprecise language. I probably should have said "as every other MAJOR automaker does".

    It's not clear that Coda has sold even a few hundred cars yet (Tesla has sold 2,000 or more), so I really can't consider them a major carmaker ....

  18. 24561 Volts
    10719 PiPs
    9482 LEAFs
    2321 Model Ss
    1604 Karmas
    496 Focus EVs
    600 all the rest
    49783 Total

    Hey, if Pike Research can predict precise sales in 2020 I can for 2012.

  19. These are very accurate numbers but you've made one little mistake though... 666 for the rest - it's the end of the world as we know it.

  20. That was good for a chuckle.

  21. A lot of people in New Jersey/East Coast are going to have to replace cars. This could have a postive impact on the sales figures. The ability to power your house from your car will be one way to market the Leaf. Hope they take advantage of that.

  22. its easy to see why the author has chosen to separate the Telsa S (a car we want to hear about that will most likely have signficant sales) monthly sales with Coda and Fisker (cars we care less about that have BIG questions over their viability...)

    at least that is my opinion. Coda could move into the realm of "viable candidate" if they dropped their price a bit. unlike the RAV 4 EV which is pricy no doubt but whose price does have a bit of justfication... The Coda is simply overpriced

  23. Good point. More is expected out of Tesla, so the numbers are more interesting. I am never that interested in the sales of compliance cars which, by design, will never sell in large numbers.

  24. I still haven't seen Coda's crash results. And it is pretty inefficient in terms of miles per KWh...

    I agree that their viability is very questionable...

  25. LEAFs Oct sales numbers are pleasant and sort of expected. Really attractive lease deals. Assuming their annual sales can be close to 10k, though painfully short of their initial expectations.

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