January 2014 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Speaking in terms of electric vehicle sales, January is a wasteland of poor selling days for the plug-in vehicle segment.
Gone is the incentive to pull the trigger on a EV purchase to get that $7,500 credit on this year’s taxes; and the cold winter months for a good bulk of Americans means diminishing range for their electric vehicles – a similar shrinkage can also be found in the willpower of dealership salespeople in those regions to promote them.
“Hey buddy, can I interest you in this Honda Fit EV that gets 82 miles of range on a nice day, but only about 30 miles when its 10 below?”
So while January and February certainly mean we won’t be coming close to any cumulative 5 figure months, or dethroning the all-time best 11,000+ units sold in August of last year…just remember to keep things in context.
Last year, just 4,577 EVs were sold in January, this year that number improved by 19.1% to 5,450.
Given that rate of growth, plug-in sales are on pace to end the year at about 114,000 vehicles sold – up from an estimated 95,842 sold in 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: 2:01 pm February 4th, 2014)
Chevrolet Volt: Ouch.
Ouch is pretty much all you can say for the Volt’s January result, as only 918 cars were sold – number which is not only a near 20% miss from January of 2013 (when 1,140 cars were sold), but also represents a 2 year low for the car.
The last time GM sold less than a 1,000 Volts was January of 2012 when 650 were sold.
Previously in December 2,392 Volts were sold, which was down 9.2% over December of 2012, when GM sold an impressive 2,633. (full story here). December’s result means that GM sold less extended range Chevys in 2013 than 2012. 23,094 were sold in 2013 vs 23,461 – a loss of 1.9%
To blame for the year-over-year miss is an inventory situation we first alluded to in October. We had thought that GM might be able to ramp up production on the Volt fairly quickly – that is after the 2 week holiday shutdown of the car’s Hamtramck, Michigan assembly facility – but national inventories on the current model year (2014) continue to hover at a 12 month low.
Perhaps the start of Cadillac ELR production in late 2013 has run a bit into 2014 – either way, there isn’t even enough cars available to give GM much of a chance to best 2013 results for in the early going.
Nissan LEAF: Like…well, every other plug-in vehicle in January, sales were off compared to late 2013 results.
For January 1,252 LEAFs were sold, which still represented a 92.6% gain over January 2013 result of 650. So relatively speaking, it was a still a pretty decent month for Nissan’s only all electric vehicle offering.
Previously in December, Nissan ended the year on a high as 2,529 LEAFs were sold – the company’s best monthly result to date. (full story here)
For the full year of 2013, Nissan has 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 go away in December and has now evaporated in January.
According to the company, all that is now behind them (thankfully) and we will finally see what the true demand is for the LEAF once we get out of the winter blues.
In January, Nissan said that supply was constrained early in the month in places like Atlanta where demand had been sky-high to end out 2013 (and get those federal and state credits) – and by the time that situation was rectified, the “polar vortex” went to work keeping sales low.
Cadillac ELR: In the first full month on the market, 41 ELRs were sold – which was fairly impressive considering there was very, very little inventory for customers to choose from.
The Cadillac went on sale in late December, and GM managed to sell 6 copies of the luxury Volt-based coupe before year’s end.
Truth be told, we didn’t expect to see the Cadillac ELR show up at dealerships until January of 2014, yet there it was being loaded up in front its Hamtramck Michigan Assembly plant on December 17th. (That story and video can be found here)
How many of the 37 mile extended range Cadillac ELRs will be made, and how many will be sold in 2014? With a starting price tag of $75,995 (and from $89,500 in limited edition Sax Fifth Avenue trim) probably not a heck of a lot.
However, a recently announced $699/month lease deal will go a long way to moving a lot more metal off the lots than we would have thought possible just a month ago.
Like the Spark EV, General Motors seems intent on releasing only a limited amount of Cadillac ELRs into the market place until they can establish the demand for car. About 200 units are currently in stock at selected dealer stores.
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!*
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 Q4 update will be available shortly with the company’s quarterly results)
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.
While Tesla doesn’t give out production information broken down demographically, if you asked just about any customer at the first of the year who was waiting on a Model S delivery, they probably would tell you they were told to expect the car in February – not January. Using anecdotal evidence available to us, it does appear Tesla refocused on US deliveries this month, and fired up a good bulk of US-bound production in mid January with the intention of ramping up domestic deliveries again in February.
We estimate Tesla delivered about 800 Model S sedans in January. Look for February’s result to be much improved.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: For January, reportedly 141 plug-in Porsches were sold.
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.
An average of about 150 plug-in Porsches were available for sale in January. Meaning Porsche is average a near 30 day turnover. Pretty imtpressive.
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: 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 like other national products.
After speaking with a Chevrolet rep, we learned that 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.
Previously, General Motors closed out the first year of Spark EV sales with 76 sold in December, good for 539 overall in 2013.
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.
The ‘good news’ moment for fans of the little plug-in Chevy was that inventories shot up more than 250% in January as apparently a new wave of Spark EVs arrived at dealer lots (the Chevy’s point of origin is South Korea). That being said, that improvement still translates to around 300 units available for sale in California and Oregon.
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.
Fisker Karma: Last month we said “We are DELIGHTED to say this will be the LAST month the Fisker Karma is on the monthly sales list!” because of the company’s trip into bankruptcy.
True to our word, we aren’t putting out a number on how many extended range cars (that was last produced in July of 2012) were sold in January. Hint: it was low.
If Chinese part giant Wianxang ultimately wins the 2nd run-off for Fisker’s assets in February over first winner Hybrid Technologies, that means Fisker will officially be back in the manufacturing business – and we’ll once again report sales when Karma production resumes.
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 180 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: In January 30 plug-in Fits were sold – pretty much every EV that Honda shipped to dealers was sold…again.
Previously – and as per the norm – Honda sold a production constrained 51 Fit EVs in December.
So, the story continues to be: Inventory, where is the inventory?
As in…there is none – ok, actually there is a handful (actually two handfuls) in stock at the moment, but for all intents and purposes, the number might as well be zero.
So why is the Fit EV America’s most in demand car? 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)
With a hot seller on their hands and Tesla ZEV credits in their back-pocket … and now more than half of the planned production now sold for the US on the Fit EV (1,100), we had doubted new inventory in depth would ever come from Honda – now we can confirm it, as Honda has made a statement on the situation.
“The Fit EV is available on a limited basis, with continued production of about 40 vehicles per month. Vehicles are allocated regionally and distributed based on demand from dealership-maintained wait lists.”
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: For January, a very respectable 97 smart EDs were sold after selling amazing (due to its regionality) 167 in December.
Looking ahead, the good news is that the car will start to be available more widely in February as smart makes good on a promise to market and sell the car nationally. Look for smart to easily surpass 2013 results in 2014.
Quirky fact of the 2nd half? The smart ED was the 3rd best selling pure electric vehicle for the last 6 months of 2013 with 750 units sold. Previously in November, smart sold the 2nd most smart EDs ever as 153 were sold.
The USA-wide rollout had been hampered by some unforeseen worldwide demand that lead to a 9 month backlog from parent Daimler in October. The company has said that battery cell availability issues are now under control know and they can indeed satisfy ongoing demand.
Although, sales of the smart ED have fluctuated fairly wildly in the last few months, the introduction of little EV nationally is sure to smooth out the curve in the low 3 digits.
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: Despite a lot of seasonal influences, the Fusion Energi continued to be the jewel in Ford’s plug-in lineup – in January 533 were sold.
Previously, in the last month of 2013, and really for the whole year, 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: 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.
Previously in December 919 Prius PHVs were moved off lots, which was impressive given the limited supply of late. Even in November while almost completely exhausted of new inventory, Toyota still managed to sell 1,100 copies of the plug-in Prius.
However, October of 2013 was when the Prius PHV really turned the plug-in world on its head, as America’s best selling hybrid car also became the best selling plug-in for the month. For that month, a total of 2,095 units were sold (full story here) and Toyota has yet to be able to catch up to demand. Amazing what a $2,010 to $4,620 price cut in MSRP can do for sales!
Thankful dealers also got a belated Christmas present from Toyota corporate this month as inventory available for sale swelled (at least compared to what it has been) to around 1,500 for the month.
Ford C-Max Energi: Like the Fusion Energi, the C-Max put up decently strong numbers each month in 2013 – a trend that continued in 2014, as 471 were sold in January, a 39% improvement over last year.
Previously in December as 837 C-Max Energis were sold. For the year 7,154 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.
But 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: Ford extended their streak of selling “one hundred or better” electric Foci in January…but just barely, selling exactly 100 of the 76 mile EV.
Looking past January, 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, it they don’t start selling more now with this incentive, they probably never will.
Always as consistent performer, in December 158 more Focus Electrics were sold in the US – that is after selling 130 and 115 units in November and October respectively.
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 January into account, the last 12 months have all notched triple digits.
Toyota RAV4 EV: 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.
In the short term, that deal seemed to have had the desired effect, however Toyota has had some serious ups and downs selling the electric SUV since then, so we are going to say that Toyota still has some work to do in order to sell all 2,600 of these that they plan to build.
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: In January just 1 i-MiEV was sold – so to say Mitsu dealers are anxious for the 2014 model to arrive would be an understatement. (Green Car Reports)
Previously in December a not-so-inspiring 11 I-MiEVs were sold; but thanks to an early year clearance of outgoing 2012 model year i-MiEVs that happened at Mitsu, sales for 2013 (1,046) almost doubles 2012 results (588)
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.
What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing as Mitsubishi has just announced the return of the 2014 i-MiEV in the late spring from $22,995!
$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: n January 27 Accord PHVs were sold. Previously in December, 38 more plug-in Accords were sold. The all-time “high” for the car was set in October, 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.
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 very well 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.
Simply put, this should have been an offering from Acura. Still, we have to report the results. So, with the Honda Fit EV now selling well (when they choose to stock them), the Accord plug-in looks to take over the crown of “most anemic” selling plug-in car in the US. Still the car did pick up the Green Car Journals car of the year award – so that’s something.
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.
The all-new, purpose built BMW i3 (all the details on that can be found here) will show up around April of 2014, while the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive should arrive in late summer.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – a 25(ish) mile extended range SUV that was originally expected in January, then the Spring, then Summer…has now been pushed off until 2015 to allow for Japanese and Eurozone deliveries happening now.
As for the Mercedes Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which apparently boasts a “US city” range of 115 miles. Thomas Weber, MD R&D boss says:
“In all the key criteria, this vehicle will be at least as competitive as our competitors’ models.” – and by our competitors’ models – he means the BMW i3. No pricing has been announced as yet, and rollout will happen in 2014, with the car going national in 2015.
BELOW: Chart of 2014 results so far, as well as 2013 year end results: