June Plug-In Electric Car Sales: Year Won't Quite Double 2012

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Alex, Rick, David & Christine Prell with new 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, Studio City, CA

Alex, Rick, David & Christine Prell with new 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, Studio City, CA

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With half the year now gone, are plug-in electric cars on track to double their sales last year?

Not quite.

As of the end of June, roughly 41,000 plug-in cars had been sold in the U.S.

That number would need to be closer to last year's total of 53,000 to keep sales on pace to double the 2012 total.

Electric car sales might still pull it out, however, if the current price competition among makers continues.

Nissan has aggressive plans for its 2013 Leaf--both the car and its battery pack are now made in Tennessee--and Chevrolet will likely use pricing incentives to keep pace.

Tesla's sales are a bigger unknown, though we'll find out late this month or in early August how many Model S luxury electric sport sedans it sold from April through June, when it reports its second-quarter financials.

But those three are the only high-volume plug-in electric cars this year, which we'd define as selling more than 1,000 each month.

The rest are plug-in hybrids (from Ford and Toyota) and then a handful of lower-volume and compliance cars.

The Big Three

In June, Chevrolet Volt sales soared to 2,698, its best month since last October.

Those deliveries brought the Volt's six-month total to 9,855--ahead of the 8,817 sold at the same time last year, but seemingly about in line with last year's total sales of about 23,500.

2013 Nissan Leaf, Nashville area test drive, April 2013

2013 Nissan Leaf, Nashville area test drive, April 2013

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The Nissan Leaf stayed above a monthly average of 2,000 units for the fourth month, demonstrating the company's strong intent to use pricing to boost sales of the domestically built electric car.

June Leaf deliveries were 2,225, bringing the six-month total to 9,839--just a hair less than the Volt's total, though that included two months (January and February) of short supply.

As for the Tesla Model S, we're roughing in a figure of 4,500 cars delivered for the second quarter, or 1,500 a month.

Plug-in hybrids

After the three high-volume plug-in cars comes the next tier: the plug-in hybrids.

Toyota delivered 584 Prius Plug-In Hybrids, and Ford dispatched 455 C-Max Energi and 390 Fusion Energi models.

Honda, still cautiously and carefully ramping up its first-ever car in this segment, delivered 42 more Accord Plug-In Hybrid.

Totals after six months are:

  • Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: 4,214
  • Ford C-Max Energi: 2,482
  • Ford Fusion Energi: 1,584
  • Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid: 200

The rest

Sales of every other plug-in car on the market are virtually a rounding error.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV battery-electric minicar fell back to 39 units in June, for a six-month total of just 882 deliveries.

Its maker has not yet announced a 2013 model, amidst rumors that the i-MiEV will be withdrawn from the U.S. market. (Canada did get a 2013 i-MiEV.)

In its second month on the market, the two-seat 2013 Smart Electric Drive added 53 units to last month's 60 units. It's the least expensive plug-in car on the market.

As for the compliance cars, the Ford Focus Electric sold 177 units in June, for a six-month total of exactly 900.

The Toyota RAV4 EV racked up just 44 deliveries, bringing the total through June to 408.

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

Enlarge Photo

Fit EV leases soar

June's big success (relatively) was the Honda Fit EV, whose deliveries of 208 were more than twice the January-through-May total of 88.

Honda's lease numbers soared due to a Fit EV price cut, producing widespread shortages, waiting lists, and later, a company apology.

And, finally, the first 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV was sold last month, along with 26 others.

That leaves only the Fiat 500e to round out the compliance-car stable, and first deliveries should take place at Fiat Studios in California this month.

Future prospects

There's only one more plug-in electric car coming during 2013, probably: the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid.

While it'll be the only plug-in hybrid crossover, it's not likely to move the sales needle much this year.

So the big determinant of whether 2013 sales can actually reach 106,000--doubling last year's 53,000--will be how aggressively Nissan discounts its Leaf, and how Chevrolet responds with its Volt pricing.

Where do you think total 2013 plug-in electric car sales will end up?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (25)
  1. at this point, supply is still the weak link in the chain.

    evs are being priced to sell what they make.

    there ability to produce more cars, along with battery improvements, will allow for price cuts, which will allow for more cars to be sold.


    some of them dont want to at all, yet - as can seen by producing only enough to meet regulations.

    nissan is currently the only major company that wants to sell bevs.

  2. btw, how can a post be edited ? i wanted to fix my typo of "there", but couldnt.

  3. I don't think so.

    In SF Bay Area, there are Leaf and Volts in just about every Nissan and Chevy dealer lots. If they aren't sold out in this region, they aren't going to be sold out elsewhere...

  4. re-read what i said. your reply does nothing to contradict my statements.

  5. @EV Enthusiast: Unfortunately, you can't edit a comment once it's been submitted.

  6. i could have sworn i saw the words edited on such and such a day ?

    i must be getting it mixed up with some other site.

  7. Chevy says the Spark EV isn't just a compliance car, have you heard otherwise John or are the production numbers so low, the Spark EV falls into the compliance category?

    Also, what's your take on the BMW i3, a serious EV contender or just another compliance car? Seems as though they're going to give Tesla a run for it's money in the luxury category.

  8. It's essentially a compliance car though. It's only available in CA and OR.

  9. And South Korea.

  10. The i3 a serious contender against Tesla? Have you seen the spy photos? The car looks like the usual Euro compact economy car. And certainly the performance comes nowhere near the Tesla. (Both in terms of 0-60 and range.)

  11. Right, the i3 is an eyesore, at least in the photos, but it's also $25k less than the Tesla. Have yet to see what the extended range numbers will be on the i3, but 0-60 is supposedly in the 7.5 sec range. Not bad for an EV.

  12. Actually the 7.5 second time is about the FASTEST BEV beside a Tesla and an E-Rav.

    I haven't seen the latest Chevy Spark EV times yet. But it should be sub 8 as well.

  13. $4k on the hood for 2013s and $5k for 2012s was a pretty sweet deal, dunno if it's still going on. Also, the 2014 Volt looks to be a pretty lackluster refresh, with at best a 500Wh upgrade to the battery. If its price doesn't incorporate most if not all of the 2013's $4k cash then I'd go with a new old 2013 (actually, I did already! :))

  14. Oh, and it's pretty bloody disappointing that the Spark BEV doesn't have at least 6.6kW onboard charging. Heck, the Accord PHEV has that! Get with the program, GM...

  15. I think GM did a trade off of the 6.6 charge for the DC charge option of 80% in 20 minutes, although it'll be a while before we see enough DC charge stations to make this a viable alternative.

  16. Does anyone know when or if the Spark EV will be sold elsewhere in the US? Also, Does anyone know when the Leaf will be available at all Nissan dealerships and maintanence will be done at all dealerships?

  17. I believe the plan is only for CA and OR for the Spark EV but please confirm this yourself since my memory can be spotty... If sales are promising, things could change, but I believe that was what I read here.

  18. This report just shows that price matters. When the price is competitive to the existing ICE, people will buy plugins...

  19. Yes, and the price of the Spark EV is $27,500K-$7,500 tax credit plus minus any state credits, and so anywhere from $17-20K which is more than competive with an ICE. So, really, people will buy plug-ins when the car companies sell them.

  20. I believe that in order for us to reach that 100,000 number, all plugins have to drop in price.

    Once Volt drops to mid $20k range post incentive and Leaf drops to sub $19K post incentive, the volume starts to rise. Ford and Toyota and Honda need to drop the price of their plugins to below $30k post incentive and the volume will increase as well. Once that happens, we will have 100,000 in sight.

    At the current rate, we will be lucky to hit 90,000 by end of the year. That is still a major increase over the 53,000 last year.

    BTW, we are currently at 41,447. Last year this time, we were running at 17,544. So, for YTD, we are at least 2.36x the volume of last year.

  21. GM said their cost of parts and labor in a Volt is $24K. They sell them for $39K.

  22. Not including tooling and R&D cost.

    GM is discounting it by at least $4k each.. :)

  23. I love John Voelcker's writing, but in this article he has done the math wrong. He is assuming sales increase linearly though the year and then the slope changes suddenly at the beginning of each year, rather that it is a smoothly changing exponential curve. Taking this into account, approximately 37,500 EVs need to be sold by the 6-month point to reach 106,000 by the end of the year.

    I believe Xiaolong Li also alluded to this in his comment.

  24. "As for the Tesla Model S, we're roughing in a figure of 4,500 cars delivered for the second quarter, or 1,500 a month."

    If Tesla is aiming at 20,000 to 25,000 cars per year, that is 1,667 car to 2,083 cars per month. With the amount of sighting lately, I think Tesla is closer to the 2,000 cars per month mark than the 1,500 mark.

  25. start selling EVs in Puerto Rico, and increase the numbers!

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