2016 Chevrolet Volt, first drive in California, July 2015Enlarge Photo
At long last, a handful of lucky customers in selected areas drove home in brand-new 2016 Chevrolet Volts last month. Sometime this month, full pricing and availability for the 2016 Nissan Leaf with its 107-mile range will be revealed.
These two updated plug-in electric cars represent improvements on their predecessors; their long-impending arrival has been blamed by some for tepid electric-car sales over the past several months.
But while the new models should boost sales in months to come, the new Volt's impact on October sales was likely low.
Last month, 1,238 Nissan Leafs were delivered, bringing in the 10-month total for 2015 thus far to 14,868.
That compares to 2,687 delivered in October last year, and 1,247 in the preceding month of September.
The figures keep the Leaf at the head of the U.S. total plug-in sales charts, however, with a total of 87,190 sold over almost five years.
2015 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
But sales of Chevy Volts last month more than doubled over the previous month, with 2,035 delivered for October, giving a year-to-date total of 11,299.
[UPDATE: Chevrolet spokesperson Michelle Malcho told Green Car Reports that of the 2,035 Volts sold, 1,324 were the new 2016 models--or about two thirds--despite that model only being sold in limited regions until early next year.]
Chevrolet had sold 1,439 Volts in October a year ago, and a low 949 last month as sales of the old first-generation model wound down.
The Volt closely trails the Leaf in total U.S. sales to date, with 84,656 delivered since December 2010, the month when both cars first went on sale.
Tesla Motors refuses to release monthly sales of its Model S and Model X luxury electric vehicles, so it is impossible to compare the company's sales to those of other plug-in vehicles on an equivalent basis.
The fourth high-volume electric car is the BMW i3, which returned to its average of roughly 900 cars a month after an all-time record of 1,710 sales in September.
Donald Davidson's 1917 Detroit Electric Model 68 with Chris Neff's 2014 BMW i3 RExEnlarge Photo
There were 986 i3 delivered last month, encompassing battery-electric and range-extended cars combined, for a 10-month total of 8,879.
In just 18 months, BMW has delivered just under 15,000 of its small, edgy-looking electric car.
Beyond those models, the next best-selling vehicles with plugs are the pair of plug-in hybrids from Ford: the Energi models of the C-Max compact hatchback and the Fusion mid-size sedan.
Fusion Energi sales rose to 849 in October from 808 the previous month, for a 10-month total of 7,748--considerably lower than last year's equivalent total.
The C-Max Energi logged deliveries of 695 last month, slightly down on September's 719. Its year-to-date total of 6,373 is also down on the 2014 total.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, whose sales led that category in 2012 and 2013, is now out of production. (The Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid has also been withdrawn from sale.)
Plug-in Prius sales have dwindled considerably, and were at just 91 units last month, for a 10-month total of 4,125, just a fraction of its pace in previous years.
Lower-volume electric cars
One unexpectedly high sales total was the Volkswagen e-Golf, which delivered a whopping 596 units in October. That's its highest-ever monthly total, and it brings the 10-month total to 3,161 units.
It's impossible not to wonder whether at least a handful of VW Golf TDI buyers in October were persuaded to switch to a zero-emission plug-inversion of the Golf instead.
The similarly-sized but pricier Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric delivered only 81 units, however, its lowest in more than a year, for a year-to-date total of 1,768.