2013 Tesla Model S [photo by owner Gene Rubin]Enlarge Photo
Plug-in electric car sales during 2014 rose above the 100,000 level, to total roughly 118,500. Last year's total represents a 27-percent gain over calendar year 2013.
It's the third annual increase in full-year sales in the U.S. since modern electric cars first went on sale in December 2010; the 2013 total was about 93,000.
The highest-selling electric car in the world, the Nissan Leaf, set a new U.S. record for plug-in sales of a single vehicle in one year, logging 30,200 deliveries during 2014.
That compares to a 2013 total of 22,610, and less than 10,000 units in each of its first two years on sale.
The Electric Drive Transportation Association puts the total at 118,773, though that precise number includes certain assumptions about unreported sales by Fiat Chrysler, Kia, and Tesla.
2015 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
Beyond the 30,200 Nissan Leafs, the balance of 88,000-plus plug-in vehicles was made up of no fewer than 20 other cars with plugs.
The bulk of them, however, remain quite low-volume, selling 250 or fewer units per month.
Only a small number of plug-in electric cars routinely racks up U.S. sales of 1,000 or more units a month.
(We also note that Hyundai leased 54 of its hydrogen-powered Tucson Fuel Cell crossover utility vehicles. Honda delivered 2 FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicles as well this year, against 10 leased in 2013.)
2015 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
The other high-volume plug-in cars include the Chevrolet Volt and the Tesla Model S. More recently, the BMW i3 sales hit that level for three months last year.
Last month, the Volt added 1,490 December sales to make a total of 18,805 sales in calendar 2014. That's lower than the pace for 2012 and 2013 deliveries of 23,461 and 23,094 respectively.
The 2016 Chevy Volt will be unveiled next at the Detroit Auto Show, and will go on sale in the third quarter of this year. That means the old car is now effectively on "run-out' status.
Sales of the BMW i3 again crossed the 1,000 mark, with 1,013 delivered in December.
2013 Tesla Model S and 2014 BMW i3, Hudson Valley, NY, Nov 2014Enlarge Photo
That produced a strong debut total of 6,092 sales over eight months for the unusual-looking but undeniably advanced-tech i3 minicar.
If BMW can keep up that pace this year, the i3 could enter--perhaps unexpectedly for some--the ranks of the five best-selling plug-in cars in the country.
ALSO SEE: Plug-In Electric Car Sales For 2013 Near Double Previous Year's (Jan 2014)
As always, Tesla Motors does not report monthly sales of its Model S electric luxury sedan. Those sales have reportedly flattened over recent months, not helped by a summer plant shutdown for retooling that lasted longer than planned and cut production totals for the third quarter.
Tesla has projected that it will deliver 33,000 vehicles globally during calendar 2014. We'll find out how accurate that prediction was when it releases its year-end financial figures sometime in February or March.
2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Marin County, CA, Nov 2012Enlarge Photo
In terms of significant sales volume, a handful of plug-in hybrids has also managed to sell more than 1,000 units in some months.
Those include the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, whose sales have fallen sharply since August.
Its December total of 492 brought last year's sales total to 13,264--slightly up on the 12,088 sold in 2013.
Some analysts also suggest that with all carpool-lane access stickers for plug-in hybrids now given out in the key market of California, the plug-in Prius may suffer due to its low electric range (11 miles total, only 6 miles continuous).
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012Enlarge Photo
The plug-in Prius too may be in the same run-out pattern as the Volt, with an aging model that will be replaced by an all-new 2016 version toward the end of this year.
The other two high-selling plug-in hybrids are the Ford C-Max Energi compact five-door hatchback and the Fusion Energi mid-size sedan.
The C-Max plug-in hybrid sold 659 units in December, for a 2014 total of 8,433, while the Fusion Energi delivered 789, bringing last year's total to 11,550.
Together, Ford's pair of plug-in hybrids handily outsold the plug-in Prius for the second year in a row.
Low-volume plug-in cars
Finally, a number of different battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles continued to sell at volumes of 200 per month or less.
2015 Volkswagen e-GolfEnlarge Photo
For its first two months on sale, the Volkswagen e-Golf fell into that range, delivering 1 in October and 119 in November.
Last month, however, sales spiked to a relatively impressive 237 units--giving a 2014 total of 357 electric seventh-generation Golfs now on U.S. roads.
Does this mean VW could edge toward BMW i3 numbers? We'll be curious to see what kind of levels the e-Golf sales settle in at this year.
The Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid continues to sell at a rate of about 50 cars a month, with December sales of 63 bringing last year's total to 449.
Since its sales started in January 2013, just 975 plug-in Accord mid-size sedans have found homes in a handful of states.