2015 Nissan Leaf
Sales of plug-in electric cars continued at a steady pace in November, reflecting continued strong vehicle sales of all types in the U.S. market.
The Nissan Leaf set a new November record at 2,687 cars sold, its 22nd straight month of sales increases year-over-year, while the Chevy Volt delivered 1,336 cars last month.
And while all eyes were on BMW to see if its i3 electric car could maintain the sales level of more than 1,000 i3 electric cars it delivered in August, September, and October, the German company fell short.
There were 816 BMW i3s delivered in November--both battery-electric and range-extended versions--bringing the total for the six months it's been on sale to 5,079.
In its first full month on sale, another German maker delivered 119 battery-electric cars: That's the sales total for the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.
A surprise gainer was the Smart Electric Drive minicar, which logged 313 deliveries in November--its highest-ever monthly total. Smart has now sold 2,423 electric minicars in 11 months, as well as 923 last year as well.
As always, Tesla Motors does not report monthly sales of its Model S electric luxury sedan, so there's no precise data on where that vehicle ranks in overall sales.
Leaf leads by huge margin
With the Renault-Nissan Alliance having crossed global deliveries of 200,000 electric cars last month, the Nissan Leaf is firmly ensconced as the world's best-selling plug-in car of any variety.
Total global sales are above 140,000, with several thousand more being built and sold each month. That's roughly double the number of Chevy Volts or Tesla Model S cars delivered over the same period.
Last month's U.S. sales of 2,687 brings the 2014 total to 27,098 with one month left, and the total number of Leafs sold in the States to 69,220 since December 2010.
2016 Chevrolet Volt sneak peak for owners, Los Angeles, Nov 2014
Meanwhile, sales of the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric hatchback appear to be declining, with this year's sales likely to be as much as 20 percent lower than last year's.
That reduced pace will likely be maintained through next summer, when the new 2016 Chevy Volt will go on sale.
The updated Volt, which will have an all-new body, a revised powertrain with a new range-extending engine, more electric range, and higher fuel efficiency, will be unveiled at next month's Detroit Auto Show.
Last month, 1,336 Volts were delivered, against 1,920 in November 2013. That brings the year-to-date total to 17,315--against 20,702 last year at this time--and total Volt sales since December 2010 to 71,867.
The next group of sales last month includes 451 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid hatchbacks. It's the third consecutive month that sales--which hit a high of 2,692 last May--are below 500 units. The 11-month total is 12,772.
California's "green stickers," giving plug-in hybrids and range-extended electric cars access to the carpool lane, are now largely depleted--possibly a cause.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012
Sales of the Ford Fusion Energi (at 752) and C-Max Energi (644) plug-in hybrids were also down on their pace of this summer. Year-to-date totals for the two Energi models are 10,761 and 7,774 respectively.
The very low-volume Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid added another 43 deliveries, bringing its year-to-date total to 386.
Low-volume and compliance cars
Bringing up the rear of the sales roster are the large number of low-volume plug-in electric vehicles that sell only at rates of perhaps 200 a month.
Those include vehicles as diverse as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV minicar and Porsche's six-figure plug-in hybrid luxury sport sedan.
Mitsubishi moved a paltry 18 of its tiny battery-electric hatchback, bringing the 2014 total to date to 184.
Meanwhile, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid logged sales of 57 units last month, bringing its year-to-date total to 848--a higher sales pace than that of the one-year conventional hybrid Panamera model that it replaced.
2015 Nissan Leaf
Of the vehicles with sales reported thus far, the Cadillac ELR range-extended luxury coupe saw 155 deliveries in November, bringing total sales to
The sexy BMW i8 plug-in hybrid coupe with the gull-wing doors delivered 126 units, down from last month's record 208, but still bringing the four-month total to 397.
And the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, the compact five-door hatchback with a Tesla-engineered powertrain, saw 193 sales--double its best previous month, October, and bringing its five-month total to 448.
The Ford Focus Electric--which some view as a compliance car and others don't--sold 191 units in November, bringing its 11-month total to 1,911.
Finally, we get to four models that are clearly compliance cars, sold solely to meet California's zero-emission vehicle sales requirements.
Those include the Chevrolet Spark EV (of which 61 were sold, for a year-to-date total of 1,014) and the Fiat 500e (for which Chrysler refuses to break out sales).
It also includes two vehicles now in the waning days of their lives: the Honda Fit EV and the Toyota RAV4 EV.
The RAV4 EV delivered 73 cars last month, bringing its overall total to 2,435--meaning that only 150 or so remain to be delivered before Toyota approaches its production cap of 2,600.
And just 5 Honda Fit EVs were delivered in February, the lowest since sales began in mid-2012. A total of 1,037 Fit EVs has been leased since then, nearing its own cap of 1,100.
Rounding out the list of electric cars sold in the U.S. is the Kia Soul EV, now in its second month of sales. Kia so far refuses to release sales figures for its electric Soul--putting it in the questionable company of Fiat's 500e.