April 2014 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Expectations for April are riding extremely high, as last month plug-in sales soared to almost 9,500 units – easily beating any prior first half of the year monthly result from 2013.
And indeed, April showed another large gain over 2013 as at this time last year more than a few nameplates stubbed their toe attempting to extend gains.
For the month an estimated 8,605 plug-ins were sold vs 7,138 in 2013, good for a 20.5% increase. (25.3% adjusted for selling days)
Heading into April the immediate questions that look to be solved were: (answers in bold)
- With a low comparable from April 2013 (just 1,306 units sold), can the Chevrolet Volt show a year-over-year monthly improvement for just the 2nd time in 8 months? (yes it can)
- Can Ford reclaim the top plug-in builder crown from Nissan that it had in February? (nope)
- Can Nissan best last month’s 2,507 LEAFs sold, or for that matter their all-time high of 2,529 LEAFs set in December of last year? (no, but they did set another record)
- Will the BMW i3 notch any sales before month’s end? (so close…but no)
Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is the 2014 YTD chart as well as the complete 2013 results.
Monthly Selling Period Note: There was 26 selling days for the April period this year vs 25 for 2013
(last update: 8:22 pm May 2nd, 2014)
Chevrolet Volt: For April 1,548 cars were sold, which bested April of 2013 by 17.5% when just 1,306 Volts were sold.
For the year, Chevrolet has now sold 5,154 plug-ins, which is down 7.1% from 2013 when 5,550 were moved.
April was mostly good news for the Chevrolet Volt.
The month saw GM officially re-confirm its commitment to the next generation of Volt by holding a press conference to announce a new $449 million dollar investment into 2nd gen Volt production.
The 2nd gen Chevrolet Volt will be a 2016 model and go on sale in the 2nd half of 2015.
Additionally, with focus away from the Cadillac ELR, inventories finally ballooned up to a more reasonable level in April with the Volt’s Hamtramck assembly line bumping out cars much faster than they could be sold for a change.
We expect a lot more Volts to also be made in May as well; but it should be noted that GM made a similar decision in 2013 to over-build the car when more than 10,000 cars were available heading into the summer months ahead of the 2 week shutdown.
Nissan LEAF: Like just about every month, Nissan set a news sales record in the US for the LEAF. In actual fact, each of the last 14 months have been a new monthly record.
For April 2,088 LEAFs were sold, a 7.8% improvement over last year when 1,936 were moved off dealer lots.
This result comes hot on the heels of March’s impressive result as Nissan set an almost all-time monthly best for the LEAF with 2,507 sold…just 22 short of the record set previously in December. (full story can be found here).
Although it has only been a couple months with Nissan’s new capacity online in Smyrna, TN, it appears that the line is only making marginal gains at expanding inventories – although it should be noted that apparently Nissan has already started 2015 MY production, and those cars will not be showing up at dealerships until it is announced.
As for what changes the 2015 MY brings; thanks to a dealer note from Canada, we can tell you not a heck of a lot. A new color choice, some changes in the standard equipment/packages. The details on the new 2015 LEAF can be found here.
Overall in 2013, Nissan sold 22,610 cars, which was a big improvement of 2012 when only 9,819 were sold. Currently, Nissan is on pace to sell about 30,000 LEAFs in 2014.
Cadillac ELR: There is a story brewing here and it goes something like this:
“There is a lot of darn inventory and the car is not selling”
With almost 2,000 ELRs sitting on lots ready to be bought, just 61 were sold. (Don’t do the “selling days math”, it is ugly)
This “Oh hello inventory!” story has now been in play since February as massive amounts (relatively speaking) of ELRs started to arrive at the 60% of dealers that didn’t “opt out” of selling the plug-in Cadillac for fear of low demand throughout the month. In March just 81 ELRs were sold.
Thankfully, this inventory level for the ELR should only go down from here as GM has reportedly wound down full scale production of the luxury plug-in coupe. It appears that the heady $75,995 price tag is just too much to expect for the plug-in Caddy, and we suspect that big reductions will be needed in the future to move product; although we do like the look of their $699/month lease deal a lot better than the big MSRP headline number.
Also of interest: Cadillac has also made available a premium charging station for the ELR. And for the first 1,000 customers – it’s free!*
BMW i3: BMW USA did find themselves with a few i3s on hand in early April, and BMW hoped to not only get an EPA rating/Mulroney sticker for the car, but get a few certified and into customer’s hands.
Talking about April sales today, Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America said:
“April started and ended strong, which is not typical with spring break, holidays, and taxes due during the month. The increasing momentum including launch of new diesel models in the X3 and 7 Series and the first sales this month of the born-electric BMW i3 gives us considerable optimism for May and June.”
…which kind of sounds like they did. But a quick check with BMW’s communication’s manager this afternoon for some clarification on the statement yielded the confirmation that “first sales” mention for the i3 was “forward looking” and that no sales were logged in April; but the company is looking forward to logging (and reporting to us) i3 sales this month.
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales… so we never know for sure what the numbers are until their quarterly updates.
As this is a list of US sales, we are now forced to shift away from tracking strictly production and deliveries for the company overall as they are now delivering throughout Europe…so no one freak out when US sales don’t match total production from here on out.
Q2 of 2014 was always going to be the hardest quarter for Tesla; US reservations backlog long cleared up, much of the Europe demand caught up, Netherlands incentives off the board…and China just not quite ready to go, while the company looks ahead to Model X production.
If Tesla will ever have doubters when it comes to sales and demand, it will happen this quarter, and possibly after the company gives short-term guidance when it reports on May 7th after the bell closes.
Compared to March (the end of Q1 for the company) US deliveries were certainly down by a fair margin as the feverish priority to log sales subsidies for the time being. Of note, Tesla certainly seems aware of the vacuum for demand that is occurring for this quarter and has shortened wait times for many regions in Europe with some customers who ordered in April reporting less than 10 weeks turnaround – just in time for the end of Q2.
For the US, we estimate Tesla sold 1,100 Model S sedans in April.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The plug-in Porsche has certainly found a level it is comfortable at, as another 63 plug-ins were sold in April.
Previously in March, another 56 Panamera plug-ins were sold, also roughly on par with the month prior when 57 copies moved off lots. The high water maker was set in the first month of the year, with an amazing 141 sold.
Going forward, it is estimated that the plug-in may account for 10%-15% of all Panamera sales – which generally amounts to about 500 per month.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid has a combined 416 hp output (333 hp electric) and can get north of 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph. Pricing starts at $99,000. Also of interest, the S E-Hybrid is currently available at all Porsche dealers nationwide – a rare thing these days.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: April was another solid outing for GM’s all-electric sub compact car (considering the Spark EV is only in limited release) as 97 were sold.
Previously in March and February GM logged a steady 108 and 71 units sold respectively.
During April, we also learned that although the Chevy Spark EV had been cancelled for Europe, but it will be reborn in 2nd gen trim as a Opel Something-Or-Other in about 2 years. (details here)
General Motors closed 2013 with 539 Spark EVs sold over all. For 2014 they are already halfway to that number with 272 sold in total.
However, no one should read anything into any monthly sales number when it comes to the Spark EV … at least if they are trying to get a handle on Spark EV demand, as GM basically sets their own monthly sales number by curtailing inventory. GM could sell a lot more if they wanted to.
We figure that any 3-digit number probably satisfies GM’s internal projections for the car.
Fiat 500e: When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we
have had another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat had beengiving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.
Even still we did get a fairly accurate early read on the initial “early adopter” demand in during company’s first couple months of sales thanks to a fairly serious half shaft breakage issue and a “voluntary safety recall.”
Thankfully that appears to have ended, thanks to data from Baum & Associates via HybridCars (big props). For April 152 Fiat 500e EVs were sold during the month.
Also in the “good news if you live in Oregon” category, Fiat has announced the 500e will arrive in its second US state “this summer.”
As for the car itself, the 500e’s 24 kWh lithium battery has been rated by the EPA to produce 87 miles of all electric range, and MPGe efficiency in the city is pegged at 122, and 108 on the highway, for a combined 116 MPGe figure.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: For April, 12 more of the 2 year i-MiEVs were sold to customers with some steep discounts offered on the little EV.
Previously in March a surprising 24 units were sold;which a 800% increase over February’s 3 – we like to talk percentages when the numbers are meaningless.
In truth, these first 4 months sales results of 2014 mean nothing (like the single copy Mitsu sold previously in January), because Mitsu has nothing to sell.
So, what is the problem with sales for right now? No inventory, as in no 2013 models ever arrived at dealerships this year; only old 2012 models remain.
However the return of the 2014 i-MiEV in the late spring from $22,995 means there is going to be a lot of i-MiEV sales to report then. We would like to take the time to note to Mitsu that they only have another month and a half before Spring is over…so make with the new i-MiEVs already.
In 2012 588 were sold, in 2013 there was 1,046 moved; but even with only 8 months of sales available to the new, inexpensive i-MiEV, Mitsubishi should have no issues destroying these previous marks.
The $22,995 also INCLUDES standard fast charging and a host of other standard features that used to be options. The MSRP price reduction equals $6,130 less than the outgoing 2012 model. Want to know more about the new cheapest EV in America? Click here! Our forecast for i-MiEV sales for 2014? Next to nothing from January to April, then all they can build (which might be a problem according to Mitsu’s Chief) thereafter.
Honda Fit EV: In April 50 Fit EVs where sold – a year high! (a number that reflected pretty much every Fit EV Honda had available to sell)
In the month prior 37 Fit EVs were sold as the”sell what we got” trend continued. February notched 33 units sold; while in January 30 plug-in Fits were sold.
So, the story continues to be: Inventory, where is the inventory?
Well, there isn’t any, and it isn’t coming as Honda estimated building 40-odd units a month until the fall…when they will DISCONTINUE production of the car – that story here.
So why is the Fit EV America’s most in demand car to be cancelled? Well, Honda has found the holy grail when it comes to selling a limited number of compliance vehicles. Lease them out cheap ($259/month including partial insurance with nothing down)…and give customer unlimited mileage on those leases. (all the details here)
So if you get one…count yourself lucky – although not so much if you have sub zero weather as the Fit EV has more than its share of difficulties retaining range in the extreme cold.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: Every month 6 plug-in cars battle it out for the top spot. Then there are 10 other cars that compete for the crown in the “B division” of which the smart ED is one.
And it seems like 2-seat electric smart is destined to stay the leader of this group as 203 more were sold in April
For March, the electric smart also took home the consolation championship as Daimler sold a personal best 186 copies in March!
The smart EV is now technically available nationally, although there isn’t inventory yet spread out across the country to make physical sales everywhere.
However if you are looking for a cabrio edition of the little smart after months of being out of stock, a recent small shipment of those has them available at select locations.
The smart ED is the first plug-in for America to be offered with a “battery rental” option, which brings the cost of the Smart ED down to $19,990, but adds a $80 month battery rental payment, as well as includes a wider (and longer) battery warranty. Check out all the specs, options and pricing here.
The 2-seat Smart electric car gets 68 miles of range from a 17.6 kWh battery.
Ford Fusion Energi: All of Ford’s plug-ins took a step back in April – the Fusion Energi being the most in decline with 743 sold in April
However, considering for the past 7 months or so, this plug-in Ford was continually setting the bar higher, we’ll let it off the hook.
Last month 899 Fusion Energis were sold, meaning April was off by 21%.
For 2013, the Fusion Energi was the surprise hit of the Ford family – for December the Fusion notched 791 sales, and finished the year with just over 6,000 sold – not bad considering it was only introduced in February.
More important even than 2013 results is that Ford has cut the starting MSRP of the Fusion Energi by $4,000 - down to $34,700 – meaning that in all likelihood a near doubling of 2013 sales will be achieved without too much effort.
The Fusion Energi basically offers the same package as the C-Max Energi, but in a larger sedan package. The third plug-in to be offered from Ford has just been rated by the EPA at a combined 100 MPGe (92 MPGe highway, 108 MPGs city), and has an all-electric range of 21
Toyota Prius Plug-In: In April the rush to get HOV “green” stickers was on before they were all exhausted (which they now are), and no where was it more evident than in the surging sales of the Prius PHV.
For April 1,741 were sold, that is up 179.% from 2013 when 599 were sold. April was the company’s best result of the year so far - strong sales also made it the 2nd best plug-in seller for the month amongst its peers.
Previously in March 1,452 were sold, up 92% from last year’s 786 sold. February was also strong month for the Prius PHV as 1,041 copies were sold – which was up 50.3% over 2013.
To date, 5,037 plug-in Prii have been sold so far in 2014, 70.6% more than last year, when 2,952 moved off lots.
Much like the Nissan LEAF was for almost all of 2013, the Prius PHV has been a demand vs allocation story over the past 5 months since Toyota reduced the price of the plug-in by $2,010 to $4,620. The allure of the car, now from $29,990, has essentially meant Toyota can set the amount they want to sell.
Ford C-Max Energi: C-Max plug-in sales were off by 14% in April, as 525 of the electric Fords were sold.
Ford first extended range plug-in also struggled a bit in March compared to its peers, but still sold a respectable 610 copies.
We are unsure whether or not the C-Max Energi’s stablemate Ford Fusion Energi is taking market share from this vehicle, or whether it is just an issue of the gas version of the platform not being a strong seller that is pulling it down.
For 2013 overall, 7,154 plug-in C-Maxs were sold, good for being the 5th best selling plug-in for America. In 2013, the high water mark for the C-Max Energi was set in October as 1,092 plug-ins sold.
It would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi.
Ford Focus Electric: Behold, the Oak Tree of plug-in sales as another 115 Focus EVs were sold in April.
Taking March into account, the last 15 months (and 18 of last 19) have all notched 100-and-something sales. Oh Ford Focus Electric – you make us sleepy.
In March 177 were sold despite reports of massive discounts by almost $6,000 up from 129 the month prior.
Also as announced recently, the Focus got a slightly refreshed look for the 2nd half of 2014. And if you squint really hard, you might be able to spot the changes in the 2015 Focus Electric here. And no the battery intrusion into the trunk has not changed – that will have to wait for a full platform upgrade in about 3 years – provided the car continues to be produced alongside the rumored Focus Energi.
Toyota RAV4 EV: April saw another 69 of America’s only plug-in SUV find a home – a number that was slightly down from March when Toyota notched another ‘pretty good month for a compliance vehicle’ month, as 73 more electric SUVs were sold.
Previous to that an impressive 101 RAV4 EV sales were notched in February showing that the all-electric SUV is finding a certain base in California despite no real backing from the mothership.
The highest selling level for any one month for the RAV4 EV was August of 2013 when 231 sold.
Overall, Toyota did experience a resurgence in the 2nd half of 2013, and they are now decently on their way to selling the required number of EVs to satisfy CARB compliance. To bump 2nd half sales Toyota has taken a page out of Honda’s playbook on their compliance vehicle and is now offering the RAV4 EV lease with something the mainstream players can’t – unlimited mileage leases.
How many RAV4 EVs will be sold next month, or this year? No one knows as this is one of the hardest plug-ins to put your finger on – percentage wise no vehicle fluctuates more in sales month-to-month than the Toyota SUV.
Honda Accord Plug-In: In April, a new yearly high was set for the Accord PHV with 37 units sold.
Previously in March just 18 Accord PHVs where sold, slipping from the 24 units last month – which was a little less than the 27 moved in January.
The all-time, high water mark for sales in any one month was October of 2013 at 71 units.
So, to say Accord PHEV sales are flat in the US would be an understatement.
Practically speaking, the Accord plug-in is the anti-Fit EV, as they just can’t sell these things. The classic “we will build it if you ask us to” seems to be in play here, as there is little to no dealer inventory for a customer to just walk in off the streets and drive off in a plug-in Accord.
Each month we ask ourselves the same questions: Does Honda even want to sell these? Why do they bring them to the US at all? (they sell decently in Japan) A $40,000 mid-size Honda sedan with 13 miles of electric range is just not something Americans want…and they know it, as they make available little to no inventory.
As for pricing, the Accord PHEV doesn’t come cheap, as Honda has put a sticker of $38,780 on the car, which was markedly higher than consumer expectations for the car. We expect Honda to revisit incentives on the car in the near future – or maybe just stop offering it entirely.
The Accord plug-in has a 13 mile all-electric range, and has been given a MPGe valuation of 115 MPGe, the highest rating of any plug-in extended range vehicle.
2014 will see the introduction of quite a few new plug-in models, many of them being the premium variety.
Here is a list of what is on the horizon, and when it is expected:
- Mercedes Benz B-Class ED: Summer 2014 (regionally) – nationally in 2015 UPDATE: first deliveries now expected in July (details + first drive video)
- BMW i8: July 2014 - about 300 cars allotted for 2014 for fall, more in 2015
- Kia Soul EV: Q3 2014 (details on the car can be found here)
- Tesla Model X: December 2014 – Tesla has said they will make first delivery in 2014, but real production doesn’t get started until April 2015 – so if your last name is Musk or Jurvetson, you might get one in 2014
- VW e-Golf: Late 2014 – still some debate on whether or not the e-Golf will arrive under the wire in 2014
BELOW: Chart of 2014 results so far, as well as 2013 year end results: