May 2014 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Given the fact that May of 2014 is the 42nd month that mass produced plug-in vehicles have been available in the United States, and that in no month to date has ever came close to being a year-over-year drop in sales, the question is not “have EV sales gained in the US”, but “by how much?”
Last month an estimated 7,454 plug-ins were sold, and while the numbers are still rolling at the moment, May looks to easily best that number, especially thanks to the 3,117 LEAFs sold by Nissan this month. The Toyota Prius PHV also destroyed all forecasts by selling almost 2,700 units themselves.
In fact, with a little help from Ford, May of 2014 in now the best selling month ever for plug-ins in America!
Heading into May the main points of interest look to be:
- Will an a recent overbuild of the 2014 MY Chevrolet Volt by GM translate into a stronger sell month? (slightly)
- Toyota almost eclipsed Nissan as the top building of plug-in cars in April, can a strong selling Prius PHV put them over the top this month? (No they can not)
- Nissan sets a record 15th consecutive monthly record for sales
- Just how many i3s did BMW manage to get out of port and onto customer’s driveways this month? (hint: more than expected)
EDITOR’s NOTE: This list is published as soon as sales kicks off the morning of Tuesday June 3rd, and is then updated in real time as the sales come in over the next 24 hours. So if you don’t see a report on your favorite EV at time of press…just check back a little later – all the numbers are coming!
Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is the 2014 YTD chart as well as the complete 2013 results.
(last update: 12:17 am June 4th, 2014)
Chevrolet Volt: The Volt continued a year long uptrend, as 1,684 cars were sold, the fifth consecutive monthly improvement. Up 4.8% from May of 2013.
Previously in 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 6,838 Volts, which is down 4.5% from 2013 when 7,157 were moved.
In April we also 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. Inventories of the Volt continued to raise during the month and the company now has about 150 days worth of inventory.
Also of note: production of the 2014 Volt comes to a close a little early this year during June.
Nissan LEAF: Sell, SELL, SELL!!! Nissan sold more pure electric cars in May than anyone else in history, as an amazing 3,117 LEAFs were sold; good for almost a 50% increase over last month and last year.
“LEAF hit two major milestones in May with 50,000 total U.S. sales since launch and more than 3,100 total deliveries in a month,” said Toby Perry, Marketing Director and Overseas Program Director, Nissan LEAF. “LEAF is poised to take advantage of a market ripe for higher EV sales thanks to a great value proposition, an engaged base of owner-advocates, rapid increases in charging infrastructure in major markets across the country and new tax credits in Texas and other states.”
Previously in April 2,088 LEAFs were sold, a 7.8% improvement over last year when 1,936 were moved off dealer lots.Nissan has now also logged 15 consecutive monthly sales records for its all electric car.
Although Nissan’s “new capacity” came online in Smyrna, TN several months ago, it appears that May’s exceptional selling result has kept inventories pretty much in check nationwide. During June we should see both a pricing announcement for 2015 model year LEAFs plus perhaps a few cars making it to dealer showrooms.
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: GM continues to struggle to find a market for the ELR as a near monthly low of 52 luxury plug-ins were sold in May. (41 copies of the Caddy were sold in January, the car’s first full month on the market) 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”
Last month in April, just 61 were sold.
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.
On the good news front, CARB decided to remove the proposed new wording that would have put a $60,000 max MSRP of eligibility in California on plug-ins to qualify for the state’s $2,500 rebate.
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 surprised us by setting a new record for plug-in sales in a debut month with 336 units sold!
Originally expected in April, some hold-ups with the EPA/Monroney stickers prevented the i3 from getting to customers.
Also of interest, Tom immediately got that first BMW i3 REx turned into the world’s first “red” i3 with a brand new vehicle wrap! (details and pictures of that adventure here).
Surprisingly, and unlike a lot of other plug-in vehicle debuts, there is already a lot of available inventory out there to be had if your interested in picking up an i3 of your own.
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.
And of Q2, it appears May is the ‘hump’ month for US deliveries as there seems to be quite a lull between April and June numbers, as confirmed deliveries during the month tracked far behind what is expected from the company next month.
We estimate Tesla delivered 1,000 cars in May.
Look for June to be a much, much larger result. Of note, after June Tesla puts a 2 month near-hiatus (July/August) on US production (and therefore less deliveries) to accommodate worldwide and RHD (right hand drive) production. Almost all orders placed in late April and May will be delivered sometime in September.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED: What the heck is the B-Class ED doing on this list you say?
Daimler sold exactly zero of these in May and they aren’t expected until September Well, not so much anymore. Mercedes (refreshingly enough) is actually moving a little fast than expected and customer’s ordering at the dealership level are being told that cars could start arriving as soon as ‘late June’ or July.
The B-Class ED (US allotment) is now currently in production in Germany, and a quick check in by ourselves with the company did indeed yield a new arrival estimate of “mid-summer” now – oh, Mercedes, you are always so careful to not over promise!
The car will be available in limited states in 2014 (CA, CT, MD, OR, NJ, NY, RI and VT) — and then nationwide to the unwashed masses in early 2015. “Job 1” of B-Class ED production was completed on April 11th (full story here).
The B-Class ED starts from $41,450 ($100 more than the BMW i3) and has an all-electric range of 85 miles (with an extended range option available to give “up to” 25%-30% more travel distance)
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: Porsche seems to have found a fairly consistent selling level for the S-E Hybrid as another 53 were sold in May. 63 were sold last month.
Previously in March and February , another 56 and 57 (respectively) Panamera plug-ins were sold.
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 as much as 15%-20% 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: Why, oh why, is the Spark EV not sold nationally?
Despite only a regional rollout (CA, OR) and very limited inventory allotments (~350 to end out the month) 182 were sold in May. By far the Spark’s best selling month ever.
This month Hertz did add the Spark EV to some of their rental fleets, so this could account for part of the ‘pop’ in May.
Last month (April) turned out to also be another solid outing for GM’s all-electric sub compact car as 97 were sold.
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, that number has already been passed, with 551 sold.
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 been giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales. But thankfully that ‘black hole of knowledge’ seems to have ended, thanks to data from Baum & Associates via HybridCars (big props).
For May 167 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: Good news for May…NEW 2014 i-MiEVs have started to arrive at dealerships in the US after a 1 year hiatus!
In total 35 i-MiEVs were sold this month.
Although we have to note that Mitsu only shipped a ‘token’ about of little electric kei cars to America in May – looks for deeper inventories by mid-summer.
While older months data really meant nothing, we will still point out that only 12 of the now 2 model year old i-MiEVs were sold to customers…with some steep discounts offered on the little EV of course.
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.
Going forward, 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. 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 new pricepoint of $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 May, then all they can build (which might be a problem according to Mitsu’s Chief) thereafter.
Honda Fit EV: In May 33 Fit EVs were sold, which comes on the heels of April’s 50 units – which was a year high! (a number that reflected pretty much every Fit EV Honda had available to sell)
Previous results (in monthly order Jan-Apr) was 30, 33 and 37 Fit EVs – not too terribly exciting.
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 just edged out last month to set another all-time new record for sales with 206 units moved.
In April 203 copies were sold, which at the time set a new record…over March’s record of 186 sales.
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: Apparently May stands for “rebound” as Ford also joined the “how much did they sell?” party.
In May 1,342 Fusion Energis were sold, destroying the old best-ever mark of 1,087 from last October.
Previously in April, all of Ford’s plug-ins took a step back – the Fusion Energi being the most in decline with 743 sold in April.
For 2013, the Fusion Energi was the surprise hit of the Ford family, finishing the year with just over 6,000 sold – not bad considering it was only introduced in February. he upward trend has continued throughout 2014
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 May Toyota sold…wait for it…2,692 Prius PHVs. No misprint! That was a 282% improvement over May of 2013!
Perhaps aiding Toyota’s best every month was the rush to get the last of the HOV “green” stickers, although we have to note the same rush was present with the Chevrolet Volt.
Whatever the reason, the Prius PHV just announced itself as a contender for the monthly plug-in sales races in America.
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.
Through May 7,729 plug-in Prii have been sold so far in 2014, 111% more than last year, when 3,630 moved off lots. The Toyota Prius PHV is now the second best selling plug-in in the US behind only the Nissan LEAF at just over 10,300.
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: Joining its sister car (the Fusion Energi) in posting a strong rebound month, the C-Max Energi sold 782 copies in May. Its best showing so far in 2014.
Previously, 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 177 Focus EVs were sold in May…which was actually a solid improvement percentage wise over the 115 sold last month.
Taking May into account, the last 17 months (and 20 of last 21) have all notched 100-and-something sales. Oh Ford Focus Electric – you make us sleepy.
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: Pity the model that doesn’t at least set a new year high sales this month.
Like the Prius PHV, the RAV4 EV set the bar more than little higher by selling 149 copies in May, almost 50% better than their previous year-high of 101.
Previously: 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.
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 May, 46 plug-in Honda Accords were sold. A yearly high if you choose to look at the results through rose-colored glasses.
Previously in April, a new yearly high was set for the Accord PHV with 37 units sold – that was up from 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.
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 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: