April Plug-In Electric Car Sales: Leaf And Volt Neck And Neck

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2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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Sales of plug-in electric cars in April continued at roughly the same pace as in March, with sales likely totaling about 7,500 cars.

Last year's first- and third-place plug-ins, the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, are now pacing each other in sales. Their year-to-date totals are separated by less than 100 units.

Meanwhile, we simply don't know whether the Tesla Model S continued to be the best-selling electric car in the U.S.

Leaf and Volt neck-and-neck

The Chevrolet Volt sold 1,306 units in April, bringing its total to 5,550 for the first four months of the year.

Chevy's range-extended electric vehicle was by far the best-selling plug-in car last year, with more than 23,000 sold.

But the Nissan Leaf is now in full production in Tennessee, and 1,937 Leafs were delivered to buyers last month.

That brings Nissan's total to 5,476 for the year to date, virtually neck-and-neck with the Volt for the first time since 2011.

Tesla: Who knows?

We don't know how many Tesla Model S cars were delivered in April, since Tesla does not report monthly sales like every other automaker.

A rough guess would be 2,250 to 2,500 Model S luxury sedans delivered to buyers during April, a monthly rate derived from its first-quarter sales of "more than 4,750" cars.

If so, that would make the Model S the single best-selling electric car last month--but Tesla won't say, so we can't really tell how well the car is doing.

Tiny battery-electric cars

As for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a flurry of sales in January and February that averaged almost 300 cars each month ended in March.

April sales of 127 cars improved on the dismal March number of 31 cars sold, but it remains unclear if the electric minicar will remain above its historic rate of about 50 cars a month.

Finally, either this month or next, the 2013 Smart Electric Drive--the lowest-priced plug-in car in the country--will go on sale, adding to this year's totals as well.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model

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Plug-in hybrids: chugging along

The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid was last year's second best-selling plug-in car, but it's been on a downward trend this year.

In April, just 599 were delivered, for a year-to-date total of 2,952. That's the lowest monthly sales number since the very first month the plug-in Prius went on sale, in March 2012.

The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid logged 55 deliveries in April, more than its total of 45 deliveries in the three months since it went on sale in January. Sales are rising as Honda cautiously rolls out its first-ever plug-in hybrid vehicle in California.

Ford sold almost as many of its pair of Energi plug-in hybrids this month as last, but the mix shifted.

The C-Max Energi fell to 411 from last month's 494, while deliveries of the Fusion Energi rose to 364 from 295 in March.

Compliance cars

Finally, there are the California "compliance cars," those battery-electric vehicles built only in sufficient numbers to satisfy that state's zero-emission vehicle sales mandates.

First to report was the Honda Fit EV, whose 22 deliveries were essentially identical to last month's 23, for a year-to-date total of 68 and a lifetime total of 161 since last July.

After a burst of 133 sales last month for the Toyota RAV4 EV, its numbers fell back to its average levels: during April, 70 of the compact crossovers with Tesla powertrains were delivered.

Ford sold 147 of its Focus Electric hatchback, down on the 180 it sold last month, bringing the total for the first third of the year to an unimpressive 466.

The Chevrolet Spark EV will go on sale in May or June at selected dealers in California and Oregon, and the Fiat 500e will go on sale this summer.


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Comments (20)
  1. The first reading of these monthly reports is always an exercise in futility.

    We always know Chevy and Nissan and the rest of the article covering about 9 paragraphs says, we don't know anything more.

  2. LEAF sales may be the 2nd best month ever but still disappointing. I am really surprised sales went down. what we really need is regional sales here because I believe the northwest did very well based on random sightings by me and others

  3. If were in a position to buy a car it would be the Volt.
    What are the current offers for the Leaf and Volt that could have a big impact on sales.

  4. The Volt has a new lease program for $269/month with $2399 down for 36 months and 12k miles.

  5. Where are you getting these prices from????? The Chevy web site say $299 per with $2499 down.

  6. For some reason, Chevy never updates their website in a timely fashion. They had the '12 Volt info up for 3 months after the '13 was out!

  7. Mike, different dealers sell/lease at different prices, of course. I've seen the exact same pricing that Matthew has at two different dealers just this week, including the one where I leased my Volt last year.

  8. Rich,
    Just buy the Volt and never look back. The battery range is good for most of your driving and the engine is always there for you if you need to go further than the battery will take you. That beats a Pure Electric where you have to worry about getting stranded. Plus the ride and handling are amazingly like a sports car.

    My ONLY regret about Volt is that I keep my cars forever and the next generation of it will probably make me give/sell my 2013 to my daughter and buy the new one. I'm never going back to an ICE car if I can help it. We can't wait to dump our 1997 Expedition but those Fords refuse to die.

  9. Dan, I would agree completely. Perhaps that Expedition needs a little push... You know, to get you into something else...

  10. Rich, I'm seeing exactly what Matthew is and I'm in Michigan. Leases were all over the place when I leased mine in March 2012 but overall, it's come down a little.

    Personally, I would suggest a lease, mainly to be ready for better options in 2-3 years for EVs or PHEVs, but that's just me. I've never kept a car for more than three years (car allowance, so every car is free within reason), so I'm not typical, I guess.

    The main downside of the Volt for many is the bucket seats and lack of storage space. Not a great dog car, either, due to the hump in the back. Fine for my wife and me but certainly not for everyone.

    Can't wait until 2014/15 to see what's available, especially Model X, i3, next generation Volt and others.

  11. There are more comments in this thread
  12. EVs are selling, that's the important news. I do get a little annoyed with the comment every single month about Tesla not reporting monthly sales like every other automaker. Tesla is definitely not every other car maker in any way, so I think we should move past this peccadillo. I'm not surprised that the Plugin Prius sales have declined as I think people in that market realize that a plug on a Prius, without any real battery-only range, is as useful as lady parts on a nun. But even sales of those are good news. Every person who buys any of these is helping contribute to a bright future of non-ice cars. It's good that there are plenty of models to choose from.

  13. Interestingly, in the plugin hotbed of Northern California, I have seen just about every plugin car from Active E to CODA and Fisker (including countless Volt, Leaf, Tesla S), from Honda e-Fit to Toyota e-Rav4 and i-Miev and even an SmartE. But I have NEVER EVER seen a single Ford Focus Electric here. That is shocking. There are few C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi floating around, but FFE must be a ghost...

  14. Agreed. I've only seen one Focus electric in the wild and it was parked in old town Folsom

  15. This proves that the new lower price of the Leaf is working. After $7,500 Federal, $2,500 State (CA), a low end Leaf can be bought for only $18k. Not to mention additional dealer incentives, you are talking about a sub $18k car which drives better than most of the sub $18k econ box out there.

    When the price of Plugin cars become competitive to its ICE class, people will show up to buy it...

  16. "When the price of Plugin cars become competitive to its ICE class, people will show up to buy it..." that will be sometime before 2020.

    The Relentless cost decline of battery, basically means either gas prices need to push north of $5/gal or battery needs to drop to around 250-300/KWH. at $300/KWH, figure you want a battery car to have about 150 mile range, means you need at least 50 KWH capacity, so, that means about 70 KWH to keep range over the battery life. Well that's about a 17K battery. Now if you look at the leaf, with a 35 KWH battery, it's about a 8K battery. So at that future price, a leaf will be priced in the mid teens, and a Tesla S class vehicle will be about 30K.
    Watch Battery price and capacity, that's the dea

  17. John V: Can you create a monthly chart vs having your readers hunt through the data?

  18. Don't know if I have ever seen GCR create a table or a graph. Guess it exceeds their technical ability :)

  19. Don't edit, but for reference

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