2014 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
In the first month of 2014, sales of the two most popular plug-in electric cars were lower than they've been in many months.
Sales levels likely fell victim both to the predictable winter slowdown in electric-car sales (which we saw in 2012 and 2013 too) and to particularly bad weather last month throughout much of the U.S.
The Nissan Leaf logged 1,252 deliveries--its highest-ever January, although its lowest single-month total since February 2013.
Nissan sold 22,610 Leafs in the U.S. last year, more than double its 2012 total of 9,819, and is expected to exceed that number by a significant margin this year.
Based on January sales, however, it would appear that the production boost expected early this year from the Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant hasn't yet reached dealers or buyers.
2014 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
The Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, which entered 2014 largely unchanged except for a $5,000 price cut, racked up deliveries of 918.
That's lower than its January 2013 sales of 1,140, and the lowest monthly number since January 2012--two full years.
For 2013, Volt sales in the U.S. were flat at 23,094--incrementally lower than the 23,461 sold in 2012.
January sales of the third highest-selling plug-in electric car in the U.S., the Tesla Model S battery-electric luxury sedan, are not known. They will not be made public until Tesla Motors releases its first-quarter financial results in April or May.
The Volt's luxury counterpart, the 2014 Cadillac ELR luxury coupe, logged its first 6 deliveries in December, and added 41 more sales last month as well.
2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Marin County, CA, Nov 2012Enlarge Photo
Analysts continue to watch the Ford's deliveries of its two Energi plug-in hybrids, the C-Max compact hatchback and the Fusion mid-size sedan.
Last month, it delivered 827 C-Max Energi and 791 Fusion Energi vehicles--both fewer than the preceding month and considerably down on the November highs for both vehicles.
Between those two models, Ford has recently beaten monthly sales for the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid--that company's sole high-volume plug-in.
After starting strong, sales of the Prius Plug-In--which has the lowest electric range of any plug-in car sold in the U.S., at a mere 11 miles--have tapered off.
It actually sold more in 2012 (12,750 units) than it did last year (12,088), as more plug-in hybrid alternatives came onto the market.
The plug-in Prius nonetheless remains the fourth most-popular plug-in cars in the U.S., with sales last year of 12,088 and lifetime sales of more than twice that number.
Its sales last month were 803 units, its lowest since June of 2013, and a number that Ford easily surpassed--though each of its individual models didn't quite reach that level.
2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012Enlarge Photo
Low-volume and compliance cars
Meanwhile, the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid logged deliveries of just 27 units, its lowest since March 2013. A total of 553 of the cars have been sold over 13 months.
But the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, the plug-in hybrid version of Porsche's expensive large luxury sedan, logged a remarkable 141 deliveries--or one in four of the 546 Panameras sold in January.