As in previous years, the dog days of January and February were not kind to electric-car sales this year.

Both 2014 and 2015 saw the lowest number of plug-in cars sold in their first two months, and 2016 appears to be following that pattern.

While February sales were slightly up on those in January, both months stayed at 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles--nowhere near the 8,800 to 14,000 per month sold last March through December.

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Continuing to ramp up sales of the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, GM delivered 1,126 Volts in February.

That compares to 693 a year ago, and brings the two-month total to 2,122 against last year's 1,235.

Sales of the Nissan Leaf battery-electric car stayed below 1,000 units for a second month, with February's 930 a step up on January's 755.

Both numbers were lower than the same months last year, a puzzlement considering that the new 30-kwh 2016 Leaf with 107-mile range should now be arriving at dealers.

2015 BMW i3 REx charging at The Oaks Hotel, Paso Robles, California [photo: Jeff Pantukhoff]

2015 BMW i3 REx charging at The Oaks Hotel, Paso Robles, California [photo: Jeff Pantukhoff]

Sales of the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf were far below their late-2015 levels, too, at 248 and 198 cars respectively.

One source suggests that BMW is deliberately keeping its inventories of 2016 i3 models low in anticipation of the longer-range 2017 version that goes into production in July.

Tesla? Who knows?

It's possible, in fact, that the Tesla Model S could have been last month's best-selling electric car--but we don't know, because Tesla Motors refuses to release monthly sales data.

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Among other plug-in hybrids, the Ford Fusion and C-Max Energi logged sales of 932 and 490 respectively--both up on their January numbers.

The C-Max Energi continues to sell at levels lower than last year's, though the Fusion Energi is staying roughly on pace with its 2015 numbers.

Audi delivered 248 A3 e-tron hatchbacks in the car's second full month on sale, adding to January's roaring launch total of 327--high numbers for a luxury maker.

2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015

2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015

And a mere 6 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrids were delivered in February, indicating the the model has finally sunsetted after it went out of production last spring.

A new 2017 Prius Plug-In is expected to be launched this spring or summer, and go on sale this fall, with a battery range of perhaps as much as 30 miles.

Luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs surge

Meanwhile, three newer plug-in hybrid arrivals continued to log strong initial sales.

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The BMW X5 xDrive 40e plug-in hybrid is doing surprisingly well, with February sales of 345 almost doubling the 181 delivered in January.

Since it went on sale in October, BMW has delivered more than 1,400 of the luxury plug-in hybrid SUV with the 14-mile electric range.

After five months of single- or double-digit sales during 2015, the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid luxury SUV has hit its stride, with 176 deliveries last month adding to 226 in January.

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 'Twin Engine' plug-in hybrid, Spain, Feb 2015

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 'Twin Engine' plug-in hybrid, Spain, Feb 2015

Its total sales since August 2015 are now 488. The XC90 lineup has been extremely well-reviewed, and it won this year's North American Truck of the Year award.

The $50,000-and-up luxury crossover was Volvo's top seller in February, in fact. Its electric range is also 14 miles.

The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid rounded out the luxury plug-in hybrid SUV group, with February sales of 172 exceeding its January number of 146.

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Porsche has now delivered more than 1,500 plug-in Cayennes since it went on sale in November 2014.

The third strong new entrant is the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, which went on sale in November and has racked up 535 sales over four months.

Last month's number was 200, exceeding the 175 plug-in mid-size sedans sold in January--though it hasn't yet reached anything like the strength of the Fusion Energi.

2016 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

2016 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Low-volume and compliance cars

Following these vehicles is a longer list of cars whose monthly sales are less than 100 units.

Battery-electric models include the Mercedes Benz B 250e, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, with February deliveries of 37, 5, and 54 respectively.

Among plug-in hybrids, the list includes the Cadillac ELR range-extended electric luxury coupe, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid gull-winged sport coupe, and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz S 550e plug-in hybrid luxury sedans.

Those four vehicles registered February sales of 91, 33, 54, and 19, respectively. A mere 2,500 ELRs have been sold since its December 2013 debut.

Frame from 2014 Cadillac ELR video on YouTube, with actor Neil McDonough

Frame from 2014 Cadillac ELR video on YouTube, with actor Neil McDonough

The Ford Focus Electric came in at 81 units last month, following January's 66, and sales of the Chevy Spark EV surged to 216 in February after January's 139.

While the electric Spark is widely accepted to be a compliance car, its maker now has an interest in keeping Spark EV sales rolling and its California dealers delivering battery-electric cars until the 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV goes on sale this December or early next year.

The makers of the Fiat 500e and Kia Soul EV also refuse to release monthly sales data, and that applies as well to the new Tesla Model X luxury electric utility vehicle.

Finally, in addition to the plug-in Toyota Prius, three other vehicles are now effectively off the market: the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, the Honda Fit EV, and the Toyota RAV4 EV.


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