November Plug-In Car Sales: Volt Falls By Half, Leaf Steady

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Sales of plug-in electric cars fell slightly in November, with continued steady sales of the Nissan Leaf not enough to make up for a decline in Chevy Volt numbers.

This month's total may not quite equal last month's plug-in sales of 6,784. The big unknown, however, is deliveries of the Tesla Model S--which Tesla won't discuss.

With just a month left in the year, up to 50,000 electric cars are likely to find buyers during 2012--almost triple the 2011 total of about 17,500.

This year's sales leader, the Chevy Volt range-extended electric car, logged 1,519 sales.

That brings the Volt's total so far this year to 20,828, though the November number is barely more than half the October total of 2,961--a number helped by now-expired sales incentives.

"Volt sales were modest in November due to availability in most key markets including California, our largest market," said GM spokesperson Michele Malcho.

"We had a really low daily stock for most of the month," she continued, "and expect to have more Volts available in December."

Sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In, the second best-selling car with a plug, were 1,766 units, making November that car's second-best month after the 1,889 units sold in October.

A total of 11,389 Prius Plug-Ins have been sold since the car went on sale in February. Though that car has the lowest electric range (6 miles continuous, 11 miles total) of any plug-in car, it clearly benefits from being part of the best-known family hybrids in the world.

Sales of the Nissan Leaf battery-electric car rose to 1,539, almost matching last month's total of 1,579, and more than double its November sales of 672 a year ago. November marks only the second time this year that more than 1,000 Leafs have found buyers.

That still leaves the Leaf in third place, however, with 8,330 sales so far this year. If the December sales keep pace, it will at least ensure that more Leafs are sold this year than last year's 9,674.

Surprisingly, Ford took fourth place in plug-in sales, selling a (relatively) whopping 1,259 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids in only that model's second month on the market.

It also sold 172 Ford Focus Electric battery-electric hatchbacks, bringing that car's sales for the year to 518--narrowly beating the total for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

As for Mitsubishi's electric minicar, now entering its 13th month on sale in the U.S., the i-MiEV sold 42 units--bringing its year-to-date sales to 511.

As for the zero-emission compliance cars, 32 Toyota RAV4 EV crossovers were sold in November--bringing sales since September to 140--and 26 Honda Fit EV hatchbacks were leased, for a five-month total of 74.

Ford will break out the sales of its plug-in Energi models, along with the battery-powered Ford Focus Electric, in a report due tomorrow.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is still not reporting sales of its new Model S all-electric luxury sport sedan, though the Internet abounds in rumors about what that number may be.

Aaron Chew, an equity researcher at Maxim Group, suggests total Model S deliveries may now be approaching 1,800 cars--of which, he said, about 540 were delivered in October.

For November, he wrote, "we estimate deliveries--based on (1) the trajectory of its production targets, (2) [Tesla's] 4Q12 guidance, and (3) recent confirmation it had achieved free cash flow in the last week of November--of ~1,150 for a cumulative total of 1,775."

The actual number won't be known until Tesla's quarterly report in early January.

Smaller makes Fisker, Coda, and Wheego also do not report monthly sales.


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Comments (12)
  1. Sad to see the Volt sales slide so much, but I can understand why someone would wait to test drive the new Fords. It. Will be interesting to see how much of a bite Ford takes out of the competition and who loses the most sales. My guess is it's the Volt, given the 5th seat, similar range, and way better cost of the Cmax.

  2. PiP outsold Volt and Leaf with the cash bonus to level the playing field. Currently PiP is only available in the launch states. 2013 model will be for the nation wide roll out.

  3. Yep the article is written in a funny way saying
    1st Volt
    2nd PiP
    3rd LEAF
    whereas, for this month anyway, it actually should read
    1st PiP
    2nd LEAF
    3rd Volt.

  4. @John et al: Ah, I see the issue.

    For the month of November, it's Prius Plug-In first, Leaf second, Volt third.

    For the year to date, it's Volt first, PIP second, Leaf third.

  5. 4th C-Max Energi (1,259).

  6. Volt's inventory is constrained due to the recent tooling change in the Volt factory.

    It is still a decent number. Another co-worker of mine just bought a Volt too... But he had to visit few dealers to get it in the Northern California area. I don't see any Volts laying around on the local Chevy dealer lots.

    Pip had a lot of ads recently for 0% or $199/month leasing deal.

    Those incentives seem to be the key at "pushing" plugin cars...

  7. Well I NEW it again....the PIP WILL stay ahead now...what until the unveiling 2013 model goes nationwide then the TRUE PIP Prius will show that its NOT about performance only ...its about the weight/smaller displacement and the history as the Volt and the PIP are TOPS in consumer likes...unfortunately Ford is going to deal with the EPA numbers MARK MY WORDS the weight will keep the TRUTH shining as consumers start to see the dashboard reflecting a HIGH of 39 at the most for the Cmax and the Plug in model having disappointing numbers...the Consumers will be split...happy with the better interior as well as unhappy with the TRUE numbers far from 47 least Toyota and Chevy are upfront with there REAL numbers....95/98....both excellent...

  8. BTW, if the EV miles are truly reserved for local or short trips and extended range gas miles are reserved for hwy miles, then Volt is really a 40MPG car. I easily get between 38 to 42 MPG depending how much I drive over 80mph...

  9. All the months where Pip beat the Volt in sales coincides with the lack of inventory of Volt in California market due to brief factory shut downs...

    Of course, I am sure that C-Max Energi took away some of the Volt sales as well since it has the second largest EV range among all plugins with engine behind the Volt.

  10. Would you please stop calling hybrids electric vehicles? Call them plug-in cars if you want, but only BEVs are electric vehicles. Anything that has more than one source of power by definition is a hybrid.

  11. @Ele: This is an argument that keeps coming up on this site.

    We log sales of "plug-in cars" because that's how the industry views them, and today, plug-in cars with engines are outselling battery-electric vehicles.

    We consider an electric car to be one that plugs into the grid and can run exclusively on electric power. It's an expansive definition, rather than a limited one.

    Some of those cars are plug-in hybrids (e.g. Prius Plug-In, C-Max Energi), some are range-extended electric cars (e.g. Volt), and some are battery-electric cars (e.g. Leaf, Model S).

  12. Why is BEV only "electric" car?

    Is Fuel Cell Car considered as "electric" car?

    Both Fuel Cell and BEV are both powered by electric motors and have electric powertrain. BEV are depending on electricity supplied by Battery which stores electrical power in the form of "chemical energy". Well, so does Fuel Cells and Hydrogen. Fuel Cell convert the chemical energy from Hydrogen/Oxygen to electricity and then power the car.

    The definition of the "electric" car should be defined by its power train, not the "source" of its energy. BEV source is chemical on the car, hydro/solar/coal/gas/nuclear at its root source. Fuel Cell source is also chemical on the car, sourced from various method.

    Series hybrid is similar in that concept.

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