May 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
US plug-in sales in May look to at least keep pace with the exceptional results of the past two months. March and April of 2013 marked the first time that over 7,000 electric vehicles were sold in back to back months.The big questions for this month are:
- Can Nissan make it 3 big months in a row selling the new US-built 2013 Nissan LEAF? Answer: Yes
- Will Chevrolet arrest a 3 consecutive month fall in sales of the Volt? Yes, but not by much
- We know the Fusion Energi set an all-time high for sales in April…but by how much? It was the best to date, but less than we expected
In total, 7,554 plugins were sold in May of 2013, representing the 3rd best month of all time. Just as a point of reference, record number of electric vehicles sold in a month was 8,559 in December of 2012, followed by March of 2013’s 7,982.
NOTE: This scorecard is published as soon as the first automaker reports every month, and is populated/updated throughout the day as soon as more data is available.
(last update: Monday, June 4th, 05:48 pm)
Chevrolet Volt: Chevrolet continued to struggle with year over year comparisons, and failed to match May of 2012. This May GM sold 1,607, down about 4% from May 2012’s 1,680
Previously in April, 1,306 units were sold for the month. And what we at first considered but just be a blip in sales earlier in the year, turned into 3 straight declining months
(Feb – 1,626, Mar – 1,478, April – 1,306)
As far as incentives, GM continued to offer $3,000 in cash off the price of a Volt for interested parties.
May also marked the first month in quite a while inventories of the car did not explode larger, and stayed consistent at about 9,500 units. Originally, the order books, pricing and specs were to be released in “late May,” but that didn’t happen and that announcement will likely be coming over the next couple weeks. Given the amount of 2013 inventory on hand, and the static amount of cash on the hood GM has been offering, InsideEVs is looking for a price drop to be announced on the 2014 edition
Nissan LEAF: Sales of the Nissan LEAF closed out May at 2,138 units, up 319.2 percent over May of 2012. At 2,138 units sold, May marks the second best sales month in LEAF’s US history, bested only by the 2,236 LEAFs sold in March 2013.
Nissan furthers says that “Since the March launch of the 2013 LEAF, with vehicle and battery assembly in Smyrna, Tenn., Nissan has sold 6,311 LEAF vehicles, up 332.5 percent over the same period in 2012.”
Previously in April, Nissan cemented its resurgence to the US market with the 2013 Nissan LEAF, as 1,936 units were sold. According to Nissan, that 1,937 units sold represented a 423.5 percent increase compared to April 2012 figures.
In March, thanks to the arrival of the US-made, lower priced model, Nissan set the all-time monthly sales record for any pure electric vehicle sold in the US ever, with 2,236 LEAFs sold.
Seemingly unprepared for some big sales months in the bank, Nissan’s factory in Smyrna, TN, is having difficulties keeping up with inventory requests from the dealership level (especially on the entry level S model) and national supply fell by more than 500 units during May, leaving just over 2,000 across the country for customers to choose from.
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales…but they do give a lot of updates, and tweets, and Facebook updates, and press conference; while at the same time consumers fanatically track their progress, so we can make a pretty accurate guess.
Earlier this year, the company announced it would be profitable in Q1 of 2013, and also stated that weekly production to over 500 vehicles per week during the month, which lead to over 4,900 Model S sedans going out in the first 3 months.
The name of the game for May at Tesla was to produce as many US-bound cars before the line focusing on Euro-orders in June. This lead to customers being able to both order and receive cars in the same month…an unheard of reality elsewhere in the industry.
By tracking deliveries and the progress of production at Tesla, we estimate the California automaker sold 1,700** Model S EVs in May, bringing their yearly total to day to just around 9,100…not too shabby at all. In fact, no other automaker (big or small) has sold more in the US.
Updated**: August 7th, as per Q2 results our quarterly estimates were off by about 200 units overall. Article updated to reflect.
(*) Model S sales estimates are given representative of North American sales, which include Canada.
Fisker Karma: Like Tesla, Fisker does not report monthly sales.
But unlike Tesla, they really don’t make or sell any cars anymore, as the company fast approached their 1 year anniversary of having not built a single Karma (since July)
As for sales themselves, thanks to the relentless pounding of the bankruptcy drum and 2 offers to buyout the company (one from Bob Lutz and one from Henrik Fisker himself)…either for parts or some form of continued operation, what cars were left in inventory received more than a little monetary reductions to get moved off dealer lots.
The result? Fisker enjoyed its “best” sales month of 2013 with 29 Karmas sold. That is a 107% improvement over April (we like to talk in percentages around here when the numbers mean nothing).
Looking ahead, the end is near for the Fisker Karma on this list as only 59 cars have yet to find an owner
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: On May 15th, the US plug-in family expanded by one, as the first Smart ForTwo electric drive was delivered in California. And dispite only a few selling days, and relatively few available cars and dealerships, 60 Smart EDs were delivered in May,
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive sets a couple new benchmarks in the electric vehicle segment.
A new “lowest price” EV price tag, starting at $25,000 before federal credits (the Smart qualifies for the full $7,500 btw), but also is the first full production electric vehicle in the US to come as a Cabrio. Drop top fun begins at $28,000.
The EV is also 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.
And before you say that might not be enough range for you; if you live in the city, you will easily destroy that range benchmark, as the Smart EV is a virtual brick in the wind tunnel skewing the range rating much lower than what can be expected driving in town. Conversely, that also makes the Smart EV a terrible choice if you drive on the highway a lot. Smart says the EPA rating on the electric drive is 76 miles, 59 miles on the highway. City MPGe is rated at 122, while highway fuel efficiency falls all the way to 93 MPGe.
Ford Fusion Energi:
Ford reports that sales of the Fusion Energi hit an all-time high of 416 units in May, bringing its YTD total to 1,194 units.
Ford has seen increased sales of the Fusion Energi in each month since it went on sale in February of this year.
May will be no different, we guarantee it (because they told us so)…
A look back reveals that the company sold 119 in February, 295 in March and 365 in April. Inventory levels jump a little in May to over 2,000 units, so the car is now relatively well represented on dealership lots. We expected once demand has caught up to the plug-in Ford sedan they will sell about 500-750 units a month going forward.
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 miles.
Unlike the C-Max Energi, the Fusion Energi has been priced in-line (and above) the other 5 Fusion trim levels in the model lineup, so as not to ‘steal’ sales from itself. This has resulted in a starting MSRP of $39,495, which we still feel is a bit steep.
Toyota Prius Plug-In:Prius Plug-In sales ended the month of May at a relatively strong mark of 678 units. The YTD total now stands at a decently healthy 3,630 units.
Prior to this month, sales continued to be low for the Prius Plug-In with Toyota, as they sold only 599 units in April. That number was an all-time low for Prius Plug-In for sales in a single month since it launched back in March 2012.
In March, sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid remained relatively stable, but still a bit on the low side. Toyota is reporting that it sold 786 units in March 2013.
After selling only 693 plug-ins Prius in February, and 874 in January, with no significant issues or inventory shortages, the other plug-in competition looks to be eroding the electric Toyota’s base.
Last year Toyota sold 12,750 plug-in Prii in the 10 months it was available, it currently appears that number will not be matched in 2013, which would make the plug-in Prius the first EV sold in the US to lose sales year over year. Not a great distinction to have.
Ford C-Max Energi:
Ford says C-Max Energi sales checked in at 450 units in May, bringing the YTD total for this plug-in to 2,027.
Heading into this month, sales on the C-Max Energi were pretty flat, as Ford sold 411 copies in April, after selling 494 the month prior.
After a strong start in 2012, Ford’s much heralded Michigan assembly facility (MAP) just could not get the ball rolling in the first quarter, leaving dealers very short on C-Max plug-ins to sell.
Like with its other plug-in products, someone at Ford decided it was a pretty good idea to start producing more if you want to sell more, and C-Max Energi inventory grew by almost 25% in May. Despite a slow start, we still expect by year’s end for the C-Max Energi to wrestle away 4th place from the Toyota Prius plug-in for sales in the United States
Honda Fit EV: 15 units. That’s the disappointing number of Honda Fit EVs that were sold in May. Let’s hope that lease deal (described below) jacks that figure up sometime soon. YTD? How’s an equally disappointing 83 sound?
Honda has been, without a doubt the most boring car to follow…at least in terms of sales.
In April, 22 Fit EVs were sold, which is within 14 units, higher or lower, than the company has ever sold since going on “sale” (yes, we know it is lease only) in July of 2012.
Last month for this report we asked “Why, oh why, does Honda not cut the lease rate ($389/month) on their 82 mile EV and get their CARB compliance cars sold and out the door?”
For this month’s report we will now pat ourselves on the back (yay us!) as Honda did exactly that in an effort to move the 1,100 EVs they feel necessary to satisfy CARB compliance levels.
Honda has just announced that the Fit EV’s lease rate of $389 a month has been reduced to $259. In addition to that significant price reduction, the electric Honda also becomes the first ever electric car to be available for less with no limited on mileage! We feel it is that second change in the Fit EV’s lease plan that will truly bring in new sales.
Most potential US customers for plug-in vehicles simply can not afford to outright them, instead needing the $7,500 federal credit applied to leases to artificially bring the cost down. For many of those customers, their high mileage driving needs had made that option unavailable…until now.
Ford Focus Electric:
Ford Focus Electric sales remain steady as usual. Ford sold 157 of the electric Foci in May, bringing the YTD mark to 723.
Last month’s results (April) show that while the Focus Electric is not a big player, it is a consistent one, as 147 Focus EVs were sold, off about 20% from last month.
Previous to that in March, Ford enjoyed another decent performance out of its all electric car, as 180 Focus EVs were sold..
Don’t look for Ford to do much better (or worse) than the past few months as the company is not expecting 2013 sales of the model to improve by very much overall, despite a tripling of the dealership base that is able to sell the plug-in car.
Toyota RAV4 EV: While we would not class the Rav4 EV sales as strong, they are now robust enough to knock out the company’s ambitions to satisfy CARB. In May, Toyota sold 84 electric SUVS.
Violent sales swings are had monthly for the compliance-built Toyota RAV 4 EV.
Though March was a “stellar” month with 133 RAV EVs sold, April wasn’t, as sales got halved. Toyota reported selling only 70 units of the RAV4 EV in April 2013.
The other two previous months of the year also seemed about as random as possible with 25 sold in January and 54 in February.
Earlier this year, Toyota decided to get serious in a attempt to move the over 2,000 units that will be required by CARB compliance over the next few years, and introduced a deep discount incentive, which in some cases amounted to $10,000 off the RAV4 EV, as well as 0% financing. That discount, as well as federal and state incentives means that consumers in California were getting a total of $20,000 of the Toyota’s MSRP price of $49,800.
Those programs seem to have been successful (in a round-about/random) way, as 2013 sales have improved about 50% over 2012 throught the first 4 months of the year.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Mitsubishi continues their unwind of 2012 model year i-MiEV in May, with 91 more get sold off…all at a steep discount.
Previous to May, sales of the i-MiEV rebounded quite a bit over the dismal numbers posted in March. Mitsubishi says i-MiEV sales check in at 127 units in April, which isn’t too bad considering how low the volume was in March (31).
Despite some massive sales improvements in 2013 over 2012, make no mistake, this is a sell-off, not a resurgence; further underlined by the fact that Mitsubishi offered up to $10,000 off the MSRP on the i-MiEV in April.
…like this Mitsu i-MiEV offered for sale in Maryland at $18,655.
The first two months of the year will now remain the US high-water mark until (and if) Mitsubishi decided to bring to invontry across the pond. In February, Mitsu sold 337 i-MiEVs after moving 257 off dealer lots in January, a massive improvement over anything prior in 2012. To put that volume in context, Mitsubishi has had sold more i-MiEVs (752) in the first four months of 2013, than all of last year (588). $69/month leases can do that for you.
Mitsu is nowdown to less than 200 2012 model year i-MiEVs, and as one might notice, there is still no 2013 model year available in the US. (but you can still check out what you are missing here, as the car is sold elsewhere in the world)
Honda Accord Plug-In: There’s no “skyrocketing” happening in May as Honda managed to sell only 58 units. That’s an improvement of only 3 over the figures reported in April. Oh well, better luck next month.
158 is now the YTD total for the Accord Plug-In Hybrid.
April was a stand out month of sorts for the plug-in Accord with sales “skyrocketing” to 55 units. Yep, that’s more than double the 26 PHEV Accords sold in March.
Even though Honda put their plug-in Accord on sale on January 15th, there really hasn’t been much inventory at all to speak of. In January, only two were sold, with 17 sales registered for February.
Officially classed as the new year’s first ‘2014’ model, the Accord PHEV doesn’t come cheap either, as Honda has recently priced the sedan at a very Fusion Energi-like $38,780, markedly higher than consumer expectation for the car.
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.
COMING In June
The Chevrolet Spark EV is GM’s first new plug-in offering in the US since the Chevy Volt went on sale in late 2010.
First EVs off the boat from GM’s South Korea assembly facility are expected to be available for sale by mid-June in both California and Oregon.
The Spark EV has a 82 mile range (EPA rated) and has just recently been priced by GM at a competitive $27,495, about $1,400 less than the new entry level, S Model LEAF offered by Nissan. A $199/month lease is also available from launch.
While we feel there will be sufficient demand to crush the likes of the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsu i-Miev and compliance cars from other Japanese rivals on a sales basis, the car has enough limitations that it will not approach sales levels seen from Nissan with the LEAF. (article on that here)
Coming In July
Fiat 500e: Fiatsler’s answer to CARB compliance requirements has been slated to go on sale this summer, and in a shock to many, they priced it right.
The very capable, and good looking, Fiat EV has a sticker price of $32,500, but more importantly has a lease offer of $199 month, with $999 down. (Almost 3 in 4 electric cars in the United States are leased thanks to the government’s $7,500 instant rebate given on leases)
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.
Fiat has also announced this month that they will be providing 12 free days* of car rentals per year to purchasers of the EV, for when longer trips are required…at least for the first three years.
If any car threatens the success of the Chevrolet Spark EV from GM, it is the Fiat 500e in July.
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