2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium
Traditionally, the North American winter months have seen a slowdown in sales of plug-in electric cars—but the rule didn't seem to apply last month.
Strong vehicle sales for November led analysts to suggest this could be another record year for U.S. sales, or at close. And several plug-in cars set new monthly records.
Last month, sales of the Nissan Leaf electric car actually increased over last year's comparable number, while those of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid soared.
While no Chevy Bolt EV 238-mile electric cars were delivered in November (we expect it to happen this month), Toyota delivered almost 800 of its new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid.
Chevrolet delivered 2,531 Volts in November, its best sales month in more than three years, bringing its 11-month sales total to 21,048.
Nissan, meanwhile, sold 1,457 Leafs last month (against 1,054 a year ago), indicating that the six-year-old electric car may have some life left in it—and perhaps discounts too.
2017 Nissan Leaf
That puts total Leaf sales for the year through November at 12,107, lower than last year's comparable total and considerably below the 2015 total of 30,200, still a record for any plug-in model.
Tesla Motors refuse to break down its quarterly delivery data by country, so we have no comparable data on Model S sedan and Model X crossover utility sales in the U.S.
The BMW i3 had its best month since August, with 629 sales bringing it to an 11-month total of 6,834. At least some of those are likely to be the 2017 i3, rated at 114 miles of electric range.
The Volkswagen e-Golf sold 305 units last month, for a total through November of 3,464. A 124-mile 2017 update of that car will arrive sometime next spring.
On the plug-in hybrid front, the high-volume contenders are the Ford C-Max and Fusion Energis, along with the new Prius Prime.
Ford delivered a whopping 1,817 Fusion Energi sedans, its best sales month ever, bringing the 11-month total to 14,839. That's still less than the Volt, but more than the Leaf.
2017 Ford Fusion Energi
The C-Max Energi hatchback had a good month too, though not a record-breaker, at 721 sales. Its 2016 total to date is 6,668.
The 781 Toyota Prius Prime models delivered last month bring the plug-in Prius total to 833 for the year, the rest being leftover previous-generation 2015 Prius Plug-In Hybrid models.
In its twelfth month on the market, sales of the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid hatchback hit its best monthly number ever. The 394 e-trons sold made up almost 20 percent of November's 2,063 total A3s, and brought the total since last December to 3,740 delivered.
Lower-volume vehicles luxury plug-in hybrid models are now sold by BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo.
The sexy BMW i8 plug-in hybrid coupe, with its bird-wing doors, sold at a consistent pace: 173 units last month, for an 11-month total of 1,461.
Cadillac sold another 5 of its discontinued ELR range-extended electric sport coupe, bringing its 2016 total to 531 and lifetime sales to 2,871.
Mercedes delivered 52 plug-in hybrid S550e large sedans, its second-best month ever, for an 11-month total of 479.
2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
Its plug-in SUV, the GLE 550e, saw 30 sales last month, tying its best of the six months it's been on sale, for a year-to-date 148 units.
Porsche, meanwhile, delivered 88 Panamera S E-Hybrid sport sedans, that car's best-ever month, for 2016 sales so far of 390 units.
And its Cayenne S E-Hybrid plug-in hybrid SUV, now including a special extra-high-end Platinum trim level, logged 179 more sales, for an 11-month total of 1,979 units—huge given Porsche's relatively low overall sales volume.