2014 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
Analysts worried that winter weather would put a crimp in U.S. new-car sales last month, but one electric car racked up record February sales: the Nissan Leaf.
Leaf sales of 1,425 cars in February were a record for the month, more than double the 2013 total of 653 February sales (the numbers for 2012 and 2011 were 478 and 67, respectively).
Sales of the Chevrolet Volt, the range-extended electric car that's the other high-volume, mass-priced plug-in car on the market, came in at 1,210--higher than January's 918, but down one-third from the 1,626 sold in February 2013.
Volt sales appear to be stagnating, with slightly fewer sold in 2013 than 2012, and very little marketing for the car from parent company General Motors.
Nissan was so proud of its February sales results that it issued them earlier than usual today--kicking off two days of sales reports from major automakers.
Its achievement represented 12 straight months of year-over-year sales increases for the world's most popular battery-electric vehicle.
Nissan said its top two markets were the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta, with Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland making up the rest of its top five.
The third best-selling electric car is the Tesla Model S, whose maker refuses to report monthly sales. A conservative monthly figure for U.S. sales might be 1,000 or 1,200 units.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012Enlarge Photo
Following the Leaf, Volt, and Model S in sales are a trio of plug-in hybrid models: the Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi models, whose sales have risen steadily over the past year, and the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which has so far outsold the Model S in total.
Sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid rose to 1,041 from January's 803, and were significantly higher than the 693 sold in February 2013.
Ford delivered 552 C-Max and 779 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid models, both numbers higher than January's but lower than in December 2013.
The Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, the fourth model in the group and a direct competitor for the Ford Fusion Energi mid-size sedan, sold 24 units in February, down on January's 27 and only half the sales level it averaged in the final nine months of 2013.
Compliance and low-volume cars
Today's sales report will be rounded out by a growing number of other plug-in electric vehicles that also sell in low numbers.
These include both compliance cars and models that, for various reasons, simply don't reach sales of more than 200 per month.
In the luxury segment, we have the new Cadillac ELR range-extended electric sport coupe and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid four-door luxury sedan.
Last month, Cadillac sold 58 ELRs, bringing its two-month total to 99 units. Meanwhile, Porsche sold 57 plug-in hybrid Panameras, bringing that car's total for the year to 198--precisely twice that of the Cadillac.
The compact models include the Ford Focus Electric, which sold 129 units (down from 158 in February 2013), and the Toyota RAV4 EV--of which 101 were delivered last month, up sharply on January's 63 units and the highest monthly total since last September.
As for subcompact, and minicars, Mitsubishi pulled off the remarkable trick of tripling its sales of the i-MiEV from January to February. The company sold exactly one electric minicar in January, and 3 last month. Still won't move the needle much.