2017 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
After the usual winter doldrums at the start of the year, April proved to be a good month for plug-in electric car sales in the U.S.
March was a record-breaking month, and as April results come in today and tomorrow, last month's pace seems to be robust as well.
As usual, the two highest-volume cars for which we have reported data are the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf battery-electric hatchback.
The Volt, which was entirely redesigned as a 2016 model but sold only in certain regions, is now becoming available across the country as a 2017 car.
Its deliveries last month were 1,983, on top of 1,865 in March, bringing its four-month total this year to 5,940—its highest ever for the period, besting totals over 5,000 in 2012 and 2013.
At this pace, the total number of Volts delivered will cross the 100,000 mark sometime this summer, a notable achievement.
2016 Nissan Leaf SL, Hudson Valley, NY, Dec 2015Enlarge Photo
The Nissan Leaf, meanwhile, got a range boost for 2016, from an EPA-rated 84 miles combined to 107 miles from a larger 30-kilowatt-hour battery pack in the SL and SV models.
April sales for the Leaf were 787, over a March number that at least cracked the four-figure mark, at 1,246.
But with longer-range Leafs now rolling into dealers after a production start late in 2015, its four-month total of 3,718 is far from its best ever—that was 7,272 back in 2013.
As always, Tesla Motors refuses to break out its sales of Model S and Model X luxury electric cars by month or region, so we don't have comparable numbers for the longest-range plug-in vehicles sold in the U.S.
Other high-volume entries include the BMW i3, whose April sales soared to 814, its best number since last December.
The previous few months had been much lower, as the company prepared to roll out a longer-range 2017 version—but the number may reflect some clearance pricing on the 81-mile 2016 models.
2016 Ford Fusion EnergiEnlarge Photo
Ford's pair of Energi plug-in hybrids, the C-Max compact hatchback and Fusion midsize sedan, logged sales of 607 and 1,331 respectively for April.
Their four-month totals are now 2,057 and 4,082, as the smaller C-Max continues to wane against the larger Fusion, which is likely seeing increased fleet sales.
The Volkswagen e-Golf, whose sales grew substantially during the end of 2015, has fallen back to much lower numbers, though April deliveries of 326 returned it to the January level and closer to its overall monthly average.
Thus far, Volkswagen has sold more than 5,500 e-Golfs in the U.S. since late 2014.
But the 83-mile electric car will need a range boost soon if it is to keep up with the growing array of 2017 models rated at more than 100 miles.
2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015Enlarge Photo
The Audi A3 e-tron remains the impressive vehicle in the group of high-volume vehicles, with April sales of 321 bringing its year-to-date total to 1,228.
That's a substantial number for a car that's only been on sale four months (and one day).
Some makers, including Audi, BMW, and Volvo, have a significantly higher percentage of plug-in sales overall—despite the higher absolute numbers of cars sold by the largest makers like General Motors and Nissan.
Beyond those few high-volume vehicles are the growing number of mid-size to luxury plug-in hybrid sedans and SUVs, all of which sell in relatively low absolute numbers.
Pricier plug-in hybrids
The Cadillac ELR range-extended luxury coupe sold 95 units, bringing its 2016 total to 357 and its lifetime sales to a mere 2,697.