2017 Chevrolet Volt, leased by Phil Ganz of TexasEnlarge Photo
While U.S. vehicle sales last month are expected to fall overall as data rolls in, August has traditionally been a very good month for sales of plug-in electric cars.
The Chevrolet Volt, for one, kept up its pace this year, with August sales of 2,081, for an eight-month total of 14,295 Volts delivered so far this year.
The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, continued at the markedly slower pace it's seen over the past two years, with 1,066 delivered last month for a year-to-date total of 7,922.
The third best-selling electric car in the U.S. has been the Tesla Model S. But Tesla Motors refuses to release sales data broken down by country or month, so we do not have access to comparable data for its two vehicles.
The fourth is a plug-in hybrid version of the Toyota Prius hybrid; the old one went out of production last year, but the new 2017 Toyota Prius Prime should show up in sales toward the end of this year.
After more than five and a half years of steadily increasing year-over-year sales that began in September 2010, the overall U.S. market has now experienced four declines over the past six months, indicating that its growth has plateaued.
2016 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
But plug-in cars experienced their plateau last year, selling slightly fewer in 2015 than they did in 2014.
While this year's trend is upward, many electric-car buyers appear to be waiting for new, mass-priced 200-mile entries that will arrive over the next couple of years.
The first will be the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is to go on sale in limited regions during the fourth quarter of this year.
It will likely be followed by a 200-mile version of the next Nissan Leaf sometime during 2017, and the Tesla Model 3 whenever that electric sedan goes into production.
Tesla Motors says the Model 3 will be rolling off the assembly lines before the end of next year, but the industry remains somewhat skeptical.
The other high-selling plug-in cars, which we presently define as more than 300 units a month, are the BMW i3, the Chevy Spark EV (the Bolt EV's predecessor), and the Volkswagen e-Golf on the battery-electric front.
2017 BMW i3Enlarge Photo
BMW delivered 1,013 i3s last month, only its second four-figure total of 2016. That brings its year-to-date total to 5,372.
While that's lower than last year's comparable number of 6,183.not surprising given the imminent launch of the new 2017 version with 114 miles of rated range, fully 50 percent more.