Electric Cars Sell Faster Than Hybrids Did At Same Point

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Electric Vehicle Sales vs Hybrid Electric Vehicle Sales, chart issued by U.S. Department of Energy

Electric Vehicle Sales vs Hybrid Electric Vehicle Sales, chart issued by U.S. Department of Energy

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Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Above is a graph comparing the relative sales volumes of hybrids (starting in 2000) to those of plug-in electric cars (starting in 2011).

It comes from the U.S. Department of Energy, which tweeted the image last Friday.

(We're not sure why the units on the vertical axis say "USD," which stands for U.S. Dollars--the data is clearly total sales.)

14 models, 9 makers

The cars include battery-electric, range-extended electric, and plug-in hybrid cars sold by all makers (14 different models from nine auto brands as of June). 

It's not the first such graph: Scientific American did a very similar image, which you can find here, as part of its article: Electric Vehicle Deployment: Where Should We Be Today?

But combined with the news that more than 61,000 Nissan Leafs have been sold--the bulk of 100,000 electric cars sold by Nissan and Renault--it counters the loudly-declaimed myth that "electric cars are a sales failure" and "no one wants them."

The 100,000th plug-in electric car sold in the U.S. was delivered sometime during May.

2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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Sales triple, then double

As we note regularly on this site, in 2011, a total of 17,500 plug-in electric cars were sold in the U.S.

Then, last year, the sales total tripled to about 53,000. And this year, they're on track to double again--roughly--to more than 100,000 plug-in cars delivered.

But those are just numbers on a page. The graphic above tells the story much better.

You have to understand the intricacies of the market, however.

Know your electric cars

Car and Driver pulled a fast one when its pseudonymous author "Dave Mable" wrote about a similar graph that started with the first Tesla Roadster sales in 2008.

As we noted, the $109,000 Roadster may have been the first modern electric car built, but it was hardly--and never intended to be--a volume vehicle to be sold in great numbers.

Only 2,500 were built, and that was actually 100 more than the planned production total all along.

Next time someone tells you confidently that electric cars are doomed, smile. Then point them to this story.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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