March 2014 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
March heralds not only the return of spring, but the end to the “gloomy season” for electric car sales that is January and February.
For March the immediate questions that look to be solved are:
- Will the rush to claim the last few thousand “green stickers” in California push PHEV (like the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius PHV) sales higher? (Yes for the Prius, no for the Volt)
- Can Ford continue to sell the most plug-in vehicles for the country? (Nope, but did finish 2nd just ahead of Chevy and Tesla)
- How many cars can Nissan sell now that they are free of production constraints? (Answer: 2nd best all-time)
- Can Chevrolet shake lower year-over-year sales results on the Volt? (Kinda-it was a tie)
- And will the Cadillac ELR improve now that GM has inventoried the car up to about a third of the Volt’s level? (Indeed up 40%)
Selling days: March’s data is stated on a raw-volume basis, unadjusted for 26 selling days in March 2014 versus 27 selling days in March 2013
Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is the 2014 YTD chart as well as the complete 2013 results.
(last update: 11:30 pm May 7th, 2014 to reconcile estimate with actual Tesla report sales)
Chevrolet Volt: Although slightly delay due to “computer system issues”, GM did manage to release March sales for the Volt.
Unfortunately, GM also had some issues selling their 38-mile extended range car as just 1,478 copies were sold … exactly the same as March of 2013. (full story can be found here)
Overall GM has now sold 3,606 Volts, which is off 15% from the first 3 months of last year when they sold 4,244.
Production and delivery of the Volt remained basically unchanged for March as about 4,000 units of the car remained in stock around the country.
Previously in February, the Volt sales slide to just 1,210 Volts were sold, off 25.6% from 2013 when 1,626 left dealer lots. Including March, GM has only improved sales in 1 of the past 7 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.
Nissan LEAF: Nissan set an almost all-time best for the LEAF, as 2,507 were sold in March…just 22 short of the record set previously in December. (full story can be found here)
March is a tale of two stories for Nissan.
Yes they sold a lot of cars, as it is the first month that the company doesn’t find itself inventory restrained (although they are still at a relatively low 3,700-odd level), but they also find themselves up against comparables from last year when the new/lower priced model first hit the market.
Going forward, expecting Nissan to best the 2,236 units sold last year by anything like 100% (as they have done for the past few months previously) is unrealistic. But still, just beating March 2013, when the newly priced LEAF was much in demand, by 12% is quite an accomplishment.
Overall for the year, 5,184 LEAFs have been sold, a 46% improvement of 2013 when 3,539 were moved.
Previously, 1,425 LEAFs were sold in February, which was a 118% improvement over February 2013 when 653 were sold – and none were in stock. (full story on this month’s results can be found here)
Overall in 2013, Nissan sold 22,610 cars, which is a big improvement of 2012 when only 9,819 were sold.
Cadillac ELR: Last month the story was “Oh hello inventory!” as massive amounts (relatively speaking) 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.
This month 81 ELRs were sold.
As for inventory, even more ELRs showed up as GM wound down full scale production of the luxury plug-in coupe in February. Heading into April, about 1,100 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!*
BMW i3: For March zero i3s with or without range extender where sold.
So why is it on the list? Because US i3s are currently (April 1st) on a boat headed to US shores and the first deliveries will happen soon.
So look for this spot to be occupied with actual sales of BMW’s all electric and REx plug-in next month.
They can’t come soon enough!
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.
March is the “make it or break it month” for Tesla in order to hit its goal of 6,400 total cars delivered in Q1 (OF NOTE: Tesla has a history of underselling their forecasts – so we’ll just pencil in their ‘real’ target number a little higher).
Through February, it was fairly clear that company was well under the clip needed to hit their number heading into March. Hardly any Model S cars were sold into any country not named Norway or the United States – relatively speaking.
To that end, both of those nations saw huge production allocations (go where the demand is we suppose), as shipments in the hundreds appeared to arrive consistently in Norway during the month; while the highest volume of deliveries for the year were reported by owners in the United States – especially going into the last week of the quarter.
We estimate Tesla sold about 1,300 units in the US for March.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: For March, another 56 Panamera plug-ins were sold, roughly on par with last months 57 copies.
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.
(*- NEDC rating. EPA rating will be released in soon, we expect that number to be about 15 miles)
Chevrolet SPARK EV: Considering the Spark EV is only in limited release, GM logged another decent month in March with 108 copies sold.
Even in February a respectable 71 units were sold it what was 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.
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.
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 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.
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 had another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat had been 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.”
Thankfully that appears to have ended, via data from Baum & Associates via HybridCars (big props). For March 166 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: In March a surprising 24 units were sold; 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.
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 March 37 Fit EVs were sold as the”sell what we got” trend continued.
Previous to March with 33 units sold; while 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: 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”
This month the electric smart takes home the consolation championship as Daimler sold a personal best 186 copies in March!
The smart ED also was one of the leaders for the smaller regional players previously in February, with a “not too shabby at all“ 122 sales during the month.
Ditto for January, when a very respectable 97 smart EDs – that 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.
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 just 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: For the past 7 months or so, this plug-in Ford was a sales beast, and continues to out perform expectations. March was no exception as 899 were sold.
Previously in February 779 were sold. In January, 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: Who wants a “green sticker” before they are gone in California?
People looking for a plug-in Prius apparently, as 1,452 were sold, up 92% from last year’s 786 sold.
Previously: February was a strong month for the Prius PHV as 1,041 copies were sold – which was up 50.3% over 2013.
To date, 3,297 plug-in Prii have been sold so far in 2014, 41.9% more than last year, when 2,353 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: Ford first extended range plug-in struggled a bit in March compared to its peers, but still sold a respectable 610 copies.
Previously in February Ford posted a healthy winter number with 552 C-Max Energis being sold – which was 2/3rds more than was sold in February of 2013.
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 as 177 were sold despite reports of massive discounts by almost $6,000
Previously in February, 129 plug-in Focii were sold during the month.
Also announced recently, 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.
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 March into account, the last 14 months (and 17 of last 18) have all notched 100-and-something sales. Oh Ford Focus Electric – you make us sleepy.
Toyota RAV4 EV: In March Toyota completed another ‘pretty good month for a compliance vehicle’, as 73 more electric SUVs were sold.
Toyota surprised us by giving us the numbers directly a day early previously in February! (Points to you know who you are!) That’s probably because during the month Toyota notched an impressive 101 RAV4 EV sales.
Also 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.
Honda Accord Plug-In: For 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
- 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: