In October sales of plug-in electric cars, both Chevy and Nissan improved on their September results, but didn't come close to beating their record August sales numbers.

The month as a whole rebounded toward August's record-breaking level, improving on September's slump--but the Tesla sales may determine whether there's any hope left of making the magic 100,000 plug-in number for the year as a whole.

The Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car racked up 2,022 deliveries, which is up 14 percent on September's number of 1,766.

For the 10 months of the year to date, a total of 18,782 Volts has now been delivered--which is 2.7 percent less than last year's total through October of 19,309.

The Nissan Leaf logged deliveries of 2,002, up 2.5 percent against the previous month's total of 1,953 but up 27 percent over October 2012's total of 1,579.

With just two months left in the year, the U.S. market has now purchased 18,078 Leafs--already a vast improvement over the full-year 2012 total of 9,819.

(The Leaf will also likely reach another benchmark next month: 100,000 cars delivered globally in the three years since its December 2010 sales launch.)

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

August remains the record

In September, sales slackened after an August surge that saw more than 10,000 plug-in cars sold in a single month--the highest total ever.

Accurate reporting is complicated by the refusal to two separate makers to report monthly sales.

As always, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] does not discuss month-by-month sales of its Model S electric luxury sedan, so its total volume is unclear. Tesla will release total sales for the July-September period on Tuesday, as part of its third-quarter earnings report.

Regrettably, Fiat also refuses to break out sales of its Fiat 500e compliance car from the total of all sales for the 500 minicar.

Plug-in hybrids

After the three high-volume plug-in cars (Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S), the next highest sales totals come from the plug-in hybrid category.

Sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid soared to 2,095 in October, against 1,152 the previous month--perhaps following a substantial price cut on the plug-in 2014 Prius--which pushes the year's total into five figures, at 10,069.

Meanwhile, 71 more Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrids were delivered, bringing the total since January to 420.

As for Ford, the C-Max Energi sold 1,092 last month. That's the first time it has exceeded 1,000 units, and it brings the total through October to 5,386.

The Ford Fusion Energi delivered 1,087 as well, also its highest-ever total and the first month in which more than 1,000 units have been sold. Its 2013 total to date is 4,428.

Compliance and low-volume cars

Finally, the last delivery data is the sales for a pair of low-volume battery-electric models, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

Then there will be the five compliance cars sold only to satisfy California's zero-emission vehicle rules. They are the Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e (for which we won't get numbers), Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV, and Toyota RAV4 EV.

The only electric crossover on the market, the Toyota RAV4 EV, delivered 91 units in October, bringing its total sales for 2013 so far to 1,006. Another 192 were sold last year too.

For the Chevy Spark EV, October sales were 66--and, according to GM's Annalisa Bluhm, dealers are asking for more cars from South Korea. Over five months, Chevy has now delivered 376 Spark EVs.

The Honda Fit EV found another 40  lease customers, bringing the year's total to 420 delivered and monthly rate back in line with the pace of 25 to 65 units it's maintained for more than a year.

As for the smallest four-seat electric car, just 28 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicars were delivered, pushing the 2013 total into four figures, barely, at 1,006. There were also 588 i-MiEVs sold in 2012.

The SmartForTwo Electric Drive, however, delivered 111 units, bringing the total for the six months the updated 2013 model has been on sale to 603--a selling rate higher than the i-MiEV, the Fit EV, and the Spark EV.

Finally, the Focus Electric October number was 115, bringing its year's total to 1,450.


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