September 2012 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Another month has past, and the big question turns again to “how many plug-ins did your favorite automaker clear off their lots?” And as it turns out, it was a good month all around for the plug-in industry.
Chevrolet had some tough comparables to go up against after an incentive laiden summer, and was up to the task. For the pure electric vehicles lke the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S, the monthly sales bar was set pretty low, but they also cleared it with room to spare.
The list is populated as it is reported in real time by each manufacturer throughout the day.
Chevrolet Volt: GM surprised the market in September by slightly besting August’s all time record (2,831). In September GM sold 2,851 plug-ins thanks in part to very strong sales in the first half of the month. Sales in both August and early September had been helped by some significant pressure at the dealership level to move product. (GM September sales PDF can be found here).
Currently the Volt’s Hamtramck assembly is idled for 4 weeks as GM “tools up” for the new Chevrolet Impala. That shutdown began the 17th of last month, and runs to October 15th. GM says they have build up inventories to manage the demand. In an abbreviated September, GM made 1,214 Volts for dealer inventories and orders before the shutdown, while also producing 247 of the Volt’s sister car, the Ampera. (GM production PDF can be found here) Chevrolet has sold 16,348 Volts this year.
Nissan LEAF: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said much earlier this year that September’s sales would be the start of the turnaround for the LEAF. It looks like he was right.
“…you can expect to see the sales move up dramatically starting in September.” – CEO Ghosn
September sales for Nissan were a record high for 2012, as 984 LEAFs were moved off lots. This result was 43% better than any month prior. Year to date: 5,212
Battery production in Smyrna, TN is now online and Nissan spokesperson, Katherine Zachery told us a few days ago that US made LEAFs (2013s) are “on track” and expected to be produced in December. There is also a report saying both a price cut and a longer range LEAF may be in store sometime in 2013. However, while price cuts are almost assured, speculation is that model upgrades may not yet come until the fall of 2013 for model year 2014.
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales. However, they are filing SEC reports like crazy after having cut production estimates, as well as revenue and profit (story here)
It was said that supplier issues held up the first deliveries in late August, but Tesla reported that only 255 total Model S cars had in fact been produced through Sept 23rd. Tesla hoped to build another 45 by month’s end.
Given deliveries already made in August and previously, less cars retained as demonstrators, Tesla delivered about 100-150 cars in September.
Fisker Karma: Like Tesla, Fisker does not report monthly sales, but if you look closely, they both drop pretty big clues.
For the umpteenth time since it first announced plans to build electric, extended range cars, Fisker went to the private equity well and raised another 100 million dollars to fund the development of the upcoming Atlantic. In so doing the company intimated that sales rose by about 150 units in the US since their last quasi-update last month. CEO Tony Posawatz had this comment yesterday on how things are progressing, “On the retail sales front, we beat our forecasts for September.”
Separately, the Sunset and Surf, both variants of the Karma will not be helping Fisker achieve its goal of 4,000 units sold for 2012, as both were put on hiatus last month for the company to focus (conserve cash) on getting the already delayed Atlantic to market.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: Starting this past August, Toyota started to more aggressively market the plug-in Prius, both in ad campaigns and through more aggressive financing…and it paid off.
In September, Toyota sold 1,652 Prius plug-ins, which was a virtual tie for its all time best figure (Toyota sold 2 more in the car’s first full month on the market in April of this year, with 1,654 units sold).
This was the seond consecutive month of improvement for the Prius plug-in, as 1,047 were sold in August. (7,734 have been sold to date)
Honda Fit EV: Success! Double digits achieved as Honda sells 16 Fit EVs in the month of Septemener, besting August’s 9 electric cars sold and July’s 7.
Alright, we are being a little sarcastic about Honda’s results, but honestly there isn’t much else to get excited about. We spoke to a Honda representative shortly after the Fit EV went on sale in July, and he said the company expected to be able to move about 40 a month, so although the Fit EV is a limited run offering, September results are still below par.
Honda says it will build only 1,100 Fit EVs in total for the US market. The Fit EV is currently on ‘sale’ in California and Oregon, but will soon expand into the northern states in 2013.
Ford Focus Electric: Ford enjoyed (for lack of a better adjective) its second best selling month for the Focus Electric, having sold 59 EVs in September. Only June’s performance of 89 plug-ins were better.
Ford has been reluctant to promote the Focus Electric, and primarily only builds cars directly from customer orders, so monthly sales numbers are a metric the company really does not care about, unlike the C-Max Energi, which Ford will begin selling this month at a price of $29,995* (details here)
Toyota RAV4 EV: In its first partial month on the market, the $49,800, all electric, 100 mile SUV from Toyota sold a respectable 61 copies
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Once again Mitsubishi’s September sales started with a three, unfortunately only one more digit followed it, as Mitsu sold 36 i-MiEVs for the month. This is the fourth month in a row that the Japanese company failed to crack the forty a month level, and it is safe to say that sales have stagnated.
Mitsubishi still insists they want to sell the car in the US market, and are determined to make it a success, but without any real marketing push (or dollars) behind the car that remains to be seen.
InsideEVs just recently completed a 10,000 mile long term test of the i-MiEV.
UPDATED: Tuesday October 2nd @ 12:41PM