February 2014 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Historically, February is one of the lowest months of the year when it comes to plug-in vehicle sales. The winter season does no favors to consumer sentiment in the north, while nationwide there is still withdrawal being felt from how far away the claiming of the 2014 federal tax credit (up to $7,500) still is.
UPDATE: Indeed they did with an estimated 7,055 units sold, up 29% over January, and 30% over February of 2013 (5,404 sales)
Why? Because after a hot ‘end of year’ selling season that depleted dealerships in January, new inventories have hit most dealer lots in a significant way…that and Tesla once again focuses on US deliveries after easing up a bit over the holiday season while striving to make incentive deadlines in Europe in late 2013.
Below you can find the results for your own favorite plug-in vehicle, plus a look behind the numbers as well.
Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is the 2014 YTD chart as well as the complete 2013 results.
(last update: 3:35 pm March 4th, 2014)
Chevrolet Volt: The Volt continued its sales slide in February as just 1,210 Volts were sold, off 25.6% from 2013 when 1,626 left dealer lots. (full story on this month’s results can be found here)
On a month to month basis, it wasn’t hard to improve in February as January was about as bad as it could get for Chevrolet on Volts sales. For the month GM only sold 918 units, the first time it was below 4-figures in 2 years.
Sales have now been lower year-over-year in 5 of the past 6 months.
Overall last year, GM sold less extended range Chevys than 2012 (23,094 were sold in 2013 vs 23,461), the company now has to renew efforts to both produce and market the 38 mile, extended range vehicle to avoid the same fate for 2014.
So did GM increase inventories heading into March? Marginally as there is about 4,000 MY 2014s now available for sale.
Nissan LEAF: 1,425 LEAFs were sold in February, which was a 118% improvement over February 2013 when 653 were sold. (full story on this month’s results can be found here)
Previously in January, Nissan took the early sales lead for 2013 as the only automaker to sell more than 1,000 cars when they logged 1,252.
Still Nissan wasn’t too happy with the result and blamed inventory issued into an unexpectedly hot Atlanta market.
Overall in 2013, Nissan sold 22,610 cars, which is a big improvement of 2012 when only 9,819 were sold.
Before January’s result, Nissan was the most consistent selling electric vehicle in the US, as November was the 10th month in a row around the 2,000 units sold mark. That uncanny consistency however was built out of Nissan’s limited production abilities at their assembly facility in Smyrna, TN due to battery supply issues. Something that started to ease in late December and into the low volume months of January and February.
Nissan reported an “alls well” with new, higher production levels on the 2014 MY LEAF for them to best 2013 results - and that does seem to be showing up to some degree at the dealership level, as just under an estimated 4,500 LEAFs are currently available to be had – although geographically the allocation of that inventory still doesn’t seem to be optimal in our opinion.
Cadillac ELR: Oh hello inventory! Relatively speaking, massive amounts of ELRs arrived at the 60% of dealers that didn’t “opt out” of selling the plug-in Cadillac for fear of low demand throughout the month.
That translated to 58 ELRs were sold – a number we expect to see rise significantly next month.
Heading into March, almost 1,000 units (up from about 200) are ready to be bought…provided you have $75,995 in cash lying around; although we like the looks of their recently announced $699/month lease deal a lot better.
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!*
The ELR also made an appearance this month at a “green carpet” pre-Oscar party – video and a little recap of that event can be found here.
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.
Tesla’s Q3 financials confirmed the first 9 months sales at a level of about 15,500 units, with just over 14,000 sold domestically. A recent Q4 sales update that said approximately half of the 6,900 (6,892 to be specific) sold between October and December gave us a good handle on how things ended out 2013 for the company.
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 delivering throughout Europe…so no one freak out when US sales don’t match total production from here on out.
Last month, due to some holiday slowdowns and a intense focus on getting product into Europe before incentives expired, we estimated Tesla sold about 800 Model S sedans in January. In fact if you asked just about anyone who had a car on order at the end of 2013 when they were told it was going to arrive – you probably heard them say February.
We estimate Tesla sold 1,400 of the Model S in February, a strong show to be sure.
Separately, Tesla announced a profit of $46 million dollars for Q4 (full quarterly report details here), with an expectation to sell 6,400 total cars worldwide in the first quarter of 2014. They also detailed plans for a new “Gigafactory” while stating a new bond offering to raise $1.6 billion…which ended up going fairly well as demand was high – Tesla sold $2 billion worth of convertibles, with an underwriter option to issue $300 million more.
February was a very good month for Tesla; from Elon Musk’s perspective, probably the best ever.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: For February 57 plug-in Porsches were moved after selling an amazing 141 January.
Previously in December Porsche sold 47 copies of their $100,000 plug-in, while in November only 4 Panamera S E-Hybrids were sold as dealer inventory was more than a little tight.
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.
(*- NEDC rating. EPA rating will be released in soon, we expect that number to be about 15 miles)
Chevrolet SPARK EV: For what the car is, the little plug-in Chevy did a respectable 71 units moved in one of the worst months of the year to sell plug-ins.
Although, one of the benefits of only being available in 2 markets (with one of them being California), is that the seasonal cold snap doesn’t really affect sales quite like other national products.
Previously in January 93 Spark EVs were sold between retail and fleet customers in January – the compact EV’s third best selling month since going on sale last summer.
General Motors closed 2013 with 539 Spark EVs sold over all.
Last month, some poor souls decided to do a “how many miles can we get” out of a Spark EV test, and spent a gruelling 6 hours, netting almost 140 miles out of the 82 EPA-rated Spark EV.
However, no one should read anything into any monthly number… 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.
In October, InsideEVs learned exclusively direct from Chevy that the company has “no plans” to make the car available outside of those 2 states… so at least for now, we can call this car a compliance play – meaning GM will ship and sell the number it deems necessary until further notice. As for international sales of the Spark EV, the exit of the Chevrolet brand in Europe means that plans to sell the all electric Chevy in 2014 have also been scrapped.
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 another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat, which has been notoriously anti-EV in the past, is giving 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.”
Update from the future: Thanks to a recall notice in May of 2014, we find that 2013 sales of the Fiat 500e were higher than originally thought. For December we estimate 185 were sold.
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.
Honda Fit EV: The “sell what we got” trend continued in February with 33 units sold. Previously in January 30 plug-in Fits were sold – which was pretty much every EV that Honda shipped to dealers …again.
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: The smart ED lead the way for the smaller regional players again in February, with a “not too shabby” 122 sales during the month.
Previously in January, a very respectable 97 smart EDs were sold after selling amazing 167 in December.
The smart EV is now technically available nationally, although there isn’t inventory yet spread out across the country to make physical sales everywhere.
Actually there is very little inventory at all, which runs contrary to the company’s statement a few months ago that they had caught up to the 9 month backlog of demand in Europe.
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. So while we expect 2014 to show much bigger numbers for the smart ED over 2013, it’s not coming in the first quarter.
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: This plug-in Ford is a sales beast, and continues to out perform expectation. For February 779 were sold.
Last month, and despite a lot of seasonal influences, the Fusion Energi continued to be the jewel in Ford’s plug-in lineup - 533 were sold.
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: February was a strong month for the Prius PHV as 1,041 copies were sold – which was up 50.3% over 2013.
Previous to February, and despite the ‘start of the year blues’ and some difficult wintery conditions, January saw 803 Prius plug-in sold – which was off 8.1% from 2013 when 874 where sold.
Overall 1,844 plug-in Prii have been sold so far in 2014, 17.7% more than last year, when 1,567 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: In February Ford posted another healthy winter number with 552 C-Max Energis being sold – which was 2/3rds more than was sold in February of 2013. Last month 471 were sold (+39%).
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.
The all-time record was set in the Energi’s first month on the market, as there was a sizeable demand backed up after the standard hybrid was released – that November (2012) 1,259 were sold.
Realistically speaking, to go much higher that current levels something needs to be about the MSRP. At $32,950 as we feel it is just too close to the Chevrolet Volt, especially after GM lower the price of its 38 mile, extended range car by $5,000 in August as well as its stablemate Fusion Energi at $34,700…the only problem for Ford (and EV fanatics) is that the C-Max hybrid is priced just below the Energi model in the lineup, so Ford is likely hesitant to close the gap between it and the plug-in Energi version.
Still, we expect to see a change in the starting asking price soon.
Ford Focus Electric: Holy snooze-fest…another 100+ month for the Focus Electric in February. In total 129 plug-in Focii were sold during the month. At least last month they made it close by just hitting 3-digits on the nose (100).
Also announced this month, the Focus is going to get a refreshed look in the 2nd half of 2014. In our opinion the more “Fusion-esque” styling is a winner.
Looking into 2014, the Ford Focus looks to be a much improved seller…that is for as long as Ford keeps offering a $6,000 cash rebate and 0% financing. Additionally, a $229/month lease deal went into effect in late January.
One thing is for sure, if they don’t start selling more now with this incentive, they probably never will. Truthfully, the made-to-order Focus EV is really the ‘oak tree’ of plug-in sales reporting – sure and steady; monthly results are always 100+ …you could almost set your watch to it.
Taking February into account, the last 13 months (and 16 of last 17) have all notched 100-and-something sales. Oh Ford Focus Electric – you make us sleepy.
Toyota RAV4 EV: Toyota surprised us by giving us the numbers directly a day early! (Points to you know who you are!) For February, Toyota logged an impressive 101 RAV4 EV sales.
Previously for January 63 plug-in SUVs from Toyota was sold…more than double the 28 sold in December – which was the electric SUV’s worst showing since January of 2013.
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.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Mitsu tripled sales of the i-MiEV in February, notching 3 (yes – three) sales nationally for thei electric kei car.
In truth, these first 4 month 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.
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 Accord Plug-In: February say 24 Accords with plugs sell, 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:
- BMW i3: April 2014 – limited to “launch edition” for first 3 months
- Mercedes Benz B-Class ED: Summer 2014 (regionally) – nationally in 2015
- BMW i8: July 2014 - about 300 cars allotted for 2014, 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: