Feb Plug-In Electric Car Sales: Leaf Supply Low, Volt Recovers

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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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U.S. sales of plug-in electric cars continued at a reduced level, as seems to happen every winter.

The best-selling electric car, the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, logged deliveries of 1,626 units, compared to 1,140 last month.

That's a better number than the 1,023 Volts sold in February 2012, but not yet close to the rate required to beat last year's total of 23,461 Volt deliveries.

Deliveries of the second highest seller, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, were 693 units--better than the 21 sold last February, its very first month on sale.

Toyota delivered 874 plug-in Prius models in January, and 12,750 during the 11 months of 2012 it was on sale.

But the two-month total thus far would put Toyota on pace to deliver about 9,000 plug-in Priuses this year, down by about a quarter from last year's total.

Leaf stocks depleted

As for the Nissan Leaf, its maker warned journalists last night that the changeover to U.S. production of 2013 models and a virtually empty pipeline of Japanese-built 2012 Leafs continued to affect sales.

The company actually sold 653 Leafs in February, about 60 percent of them new 2013 models, leaving it with just 30 unsold 2012 Leaf models in inventory.

That number was higher than Nissan's warning that it expected Leaf sales in February to be "about 500" units, split evenly between 2012 and 2013 models.

Travis Parman, Nissan's director of corporate communications, said its assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, is now producing 2013 Leafs and sending them to the high-volume California market, among others.

He anticipated that dealer Leaf stocks will return to normal at the end of March or during April.

Plug-in hybrids

Ford sold 334 C-Max Energi models in February, virtually identical to the 338 it sold in January.

It also delivered the first units of the C-Max's sister car, the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid mid-size sedan, which didn't hit dealerships until last month: 119 were sold.

The Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, which went on sale in January (delivering all of 2 units), logged 17 units last month.

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

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Compliance cars and second tier

Three compliance cars are now on sale in California and a handful of other markets, and they'll be joined later this year by the Chevrolet Spark EV and the Fiat 500e.

Sales of the three were predictably low.

Toyota delivered 52 of its RAV4 EV battery electric crossover utility vehicle, with a powertrain engineered by Tesla Motors, and Honda leased 15 of its Fit EV subcompact will count toward those totals.

Ford continues to insist its Focus Electric is not a compliance car, but its sales last year spoke a different story. In February, however, the company delivered 158 Focus Electric cars--the third highest monthly total since it went on sale in December 2011.

Meanwhile, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has now conclusively boosted itself out of last year's sales levels, which looked more like those of a compliance car than the volume battery electric competitor its maker hopes it will be.

In February, Mitsubishi sold 337 i-MiEVs, following an equally stunning 257 units last month. That means more i-MiEVs were sold in two months this year (594) than in all of last year (588).

The company attributes the rise to generous purchase incentives.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

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