September 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Coming off the best all-time monthly result to date in August – when just over 11,000 plug-ins were sold in America, September failed to follow through on that momentum.
To be fair, August’s impressive result was due to a lot of ‘sales moons’ aligning to reach the 11k mark for the first time. Still, September was still one of the better months to date.
To be precise, we tallied 8,027 plug-in sales for September, which was down about 38% from the supernatural results in August, but still the 4th best month on record in the US to date.
Last month, personal bests were set by 7 plug-in models. This month, only two made new highs – both from Ford (C-Max Energi and the Fusion Energi)
The biggest question going into this month was- “Can the Toyota Prius plug-in once again come out of no where to sell 1,800 units again,” as their previous yearly high was only 874 cars. Or will there be another surprise in store?
The answer was no, but Toyota did sell more than 1,100 for only the second time this year.
Below you can find the results for your own favorite plug-in vehicle, plus a look behind the numbers as well. Additionally, follow this link to find the year-to-date graph of all the EV auto sales by month.
(last update: Tuesday, October 2nd 4:10pm)
Chevrolet Volt: After a stellar August, September sales were a bit of a let down for the Chevy Volt as only 1,766 were sold, down 38% over last year, Much lower than the overall market expected.
In August the Volt shattered not only their own personal best monthly result, but the entire industry’s selling 3,351 cars in August.
Moving the sales needle in both last month and this month was an August 6th announcement that the new 2014 Volt would receive a $5,000 drop in the MSRP over the outgoing 2013 model (which lowered the starting price to $34,995), which caused a virtual tidal wave of fence-sitting customers to decide on making a Volt their own in the month.
However, all price drops are not equal, and while the rebates on outgoing 2013 models are making them extremely cheap and moving fast, 2014s may not move as fast long term as year-over-year nationally advertised lease deals (which accounts for the majority of Volt Sales) is not significantly cheaper than a year ago thanks to some managing of the numbers.
Without a change in the financing we expect the Volt sales pace stay lower.
For the year, GM has now sold 16,760 Volts, which is a 2.5% increase over 2012, when GM sold 16,348 through the end of September. Last year GM sold 23,461 Volts, a number that is likely to be bested in 2013.
Nissan LEAF: LEAF sales checked in at a solid 1,953 units in September. Like the Volt (but not for the same reasons) sales of the LEAF were down compared to the hotter-than-hot results posted in August. But still up 99% over a year ago.
Last month, with production maxed out, LEAF sales to an all-time high of 2,420 units in August, up 253.3% year over year.
For quite some time now, sales have been stuck around 2,000 units, and shat once was thought to be a supply issue that could be solved in a few months time has turned into something else all together – Nissan quite simply does not have the production capacity to fill demand as electrode supply constraints have hamstrung the manufacturer until late this year.
InsideEVs has learned that Nissan decided to move Smyrna production up to a level of just below 2,700 units per month, but like anything changes take time. New production levels are expected to be operational by the end of next month, meaning from November on Nissan will at least have a chance to sell the 2014 LEAF in higher numbers.
Once again in September, it appears most new production arriving at dealers went straight into customer’s hands. Nissan ended the month with just under 2,000 units of the 2013 LEAF in inventory.
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales…so we never know for 100% what the numbers are until their quarterly updates. Tesla’s Q2 financials confirmed the first 6 months sales at a level of 10,050 units.
From here on out all Tesla sales get an asterisk until production at Tesla’s Fremont factory can facilitate worldwide demand.
As this is a list of US sales, we are forced to shift away from tracking strictly production and deliveries for the company, but deliveries to the US…so no one freak out when sales don’t match production from here on out.
Of the 2,000-odd cars that CEO Musk has said Tesla has been building the last couple months, we estimate that 1,000 were sold into the United States, as the Model S was also delivered into Norway, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
Thanks to serious pressure to hit quarterly estimates, Tesla has been delivering US orders in unheard of speed, some cars ordered in early September were delivered before the month ended. The flip side of this coin, Tesla has zero backlog to build off of to speak of, so October US deliveries are going to be very low.
As September ends the 3rd quarter of the year, and thanks to Tesla going into “hurry-up” mode to sell cars in the US as the European roll-out was a little tougher (and slower) than expected, we estimate that Tesla delivered about 5,100 cars worldwide, just beating the company’s guidance of 5,000 units expected to be sold over the three months. Exact sales numbers, and the US/European splits will be available in early November during Tesla’s quarterly .
(*) Model S sales estimates are given representative of North American sales, which include Canada.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: For September the Spark EV pulled back some as 78 were sold. However, no one should read into this number as GM provided little to no new inventory on the EV this month.
Consistency is really the name of the game GM with the Spark EV, given that 102 cars were sold in August after selling 103 units in the car’s first month on the market in July.
The success or failure of the Spark EV can not really be judged in the US by sales…at least not yet as GM is setting the pace of sales by not only limiting the states it is offered (California and Oregon), but also the inventory levels.
While no specific production level or allocation amount has been set by the company, it seems fairly obvious the company is distributing out around 100 units per month (give or take). Entering October, only about 50 Spark EVs can be found on Chevy lots in America.
About the Spark EV: GM’s compact EV has a 82 mile range (EPA rated) and has just 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.
Reviews (like this one) of the little electric Chevy has widely been positive since the car has been available for testing…we guess it has something to do with the 400 lb-ft of torque on tap – nothing like having some acceleration in a affordable EV past 50 mph.
While we feel there will be sufficient demand to crush the likes of the Mitsu i-Miev and compliance cars from other Japanese rivals on a sales basis, the car has enough limitations (both in functionality and production constraints) that it will not approach sales levels from other mainstream offerings in the market.
We figure that any 3-digit number probably satisfies GM’s internal projections for the car.
Fisker Karma: Like Tesla, Fisker does not report monthly sales.
Given that Fisker has not built a car in the last 14 months, and having scared away all deep-pocked suitors, the Department of Energy has decided that October is the best month to attempt to recover some of the $168 million Fisker owes them by auctioning off their debt on October 11th.
Thankfully, this event will be the precursor to the company either being hacked up into little pieces, or reborn in some way … meaning we can either stop reporting miniscule monthly sales for Fisker (huZZah), or look forward to ‘new sales’ of something other than old 2012 inventory.
Again, being the good soldiers we are, we continue to pound the pavement on the auto maker’s monthly results. After selling 5 cars in August, sales increased dropped 40% to 3 in September (we love using percentage when they are meaningless). Which leaves only 45 more 2012 models to leave showroom floors.
Fiat 500e: When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we may have another Tesla on our hands here (they don’t).
Chrysler/Fiat, which has been notoriously anti-EV is also giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.
Even still we got a fairly accurate read on the company the last two month’s thanks to a fairly serious half shaft breakage issue and a “voluntary safety recall.”
The majority of the estimated cars sold (160) for August were delivered before the issue occurred, with customer’s (and dealers) getting the current inventory back to working order by month end.
The story for early to mid September was that seemingly no new inventory was being received from Fiat, as quite likely those cars were undergoing the same repair procedures as customer’s cars did the month prior. However, in the last 10 days or so of the month all that changed.
We estimate Fiat sold about 50 cars in September, as the enthusiasm of the “early adopter crowd” has dwindled into the “less than thrilled” to not be getting the advertised $199 with $999 down crowd, as many are finding Fiat dealers not willing to follow through on Fiat’s corporate advertising. 500e inventory has ballooned to about 120 units at month end.
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: A new month, same story as Honda managed to sell 35 Fit EVs from almost zero national inventory…literally.
Previously in August, the trend of ”we sell everything we have” was also in play, as Honda managed to sell 66 Fit EVs in August, which was a phenomenal accomplishment considering they only had about 74 in total available to be sold in the month.
So, the story continues to be: Inventory, where is the inventory?
After September, Honda actually had 50% less inventory on hand than August, with 4 units being left unclaimed by customers.
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…and give customer unlimited mileage on those leases. (all the details here)
The arrival of “the deal” wiped out 75% of inventory in mere days in June, as 208 were sold – new product to meet the demand has yet to arrive, and with Tesla ZEV credits in their back-pocket and nearly half of the planned production now sold for the US on the Fit EV (1,100), we doubt it will ever come.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: In September the good times kept rolling for smart as 137 copies of the smart ED sold, well above the company’s initial forecasts for the little 2 seat EV.
Although, sales of the smart ED have fluctuated fairly wildly in the last few month introduction of little EV nationally soon is sure to smooth out the curve in the low 3 digits in 2014.
Previously in August, and like just about everyone else in the business, smart had its best result of 2013; but unlike everyone else – theirs was about 300% better than their previous best, as a massive (for smart) 182 Electric Drives were sold.
Considering the entire brand only sold 993 copies in August, that was an astounding 18% of sales – and probably close to third of the lineups revenue given the higher price point of their electric vehicle.
During August, smart ED sales were certainly aided by $2,000 worth of “dealer cash” put on the table by smart. Meaning that if you found a dealer willing to part with that coin…you could have netted yourself a base smart ED from $23,000 – or inside a lease offer, a $139/month payment (with $1,999 down)
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: Ford has been been on a roll with the Fusion, showing month-over-month improves every month this year except one.
September was no different, as an all-time high 750 were sold.
Previously in August, Ford joined in the parade of EVs setting all-time highs with one of their own offerings – as the Fusion PHEV sold 600 copies even for the month.
It seems as though Ford is really behind moving the Fusion Energi as new inventory around the country hit an all-time high level and the company introduced some stiffer rebates on the car.
Previously in July, 407 Fusion Energis where sold which was just 9 shy of the former all-time high set in May.
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; but we are not sure anyone has actually paid this amount over the past 2 months.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: If it wasn’t for last month’s phenomenal result that seemingly came out of no where, September’s mark of 1,152 plug-in Prii sold would have been a 2013 high.
As mentioned, in August Toyota surprised EVERYONE and sold a massive 1,791 PHVs. And this result came on the heels of strong July (817 units) when most of the other plug-in players had a summertime stall.
August’s number is Toyota’s second best ever, and bested a year ago’s previous result by 65% when they sold 1,047 cars.
In July we thought that going forward, it was going to be near impossible to keep up with last year, as Toyota never sold less than a 1,000 cars in any of the last 5 months of 2012, with 7,715 plug-ins getting sold between August and December. Good for an average of 1,543.
With a couple solid months under Toyota’s belt, anything is now possible as Toyota has now sold 7,974 plug-in Prii so far this year, that is up marginally over 2012.
Last year Toyota sold 12,750 plug-in Prii in the 10 months it was available. That means Toyota will need to average a little more than 1,500 sales per month to end out the year to avoid the distinction of being the first EV sold in the US to lose sales year over year. Not a great distinction to have.
Ford C-Max Energi: The C-Max Energi broke out of a sales rut in August as it set a new year high…a record that only lasted one month as Ford sold 758 in September.
Previously in August 621 C-Max plug-in 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.
Expectations for the C-Max from Ford were certainly much higher than what has been achieved so far this year, and it appears there is simply not enough of a price savings over cross-town rival Chevy Volt, or stable-mate Fusion Energi.
Realistically speaking, something needs to be about the MSRP at $32,950 as we feel it is just too close to the Chevrolet Volt after GM lower the price of its 38 mile, extended range car by $5,000 a few weeks ago…the only problem for Ford (and EV fanatics) is that the C-Max hybrid is selling so well that Ford is likely hesitant to close the gap between it and the plug-in Energi version.
Ford Focus Electric: In September 110 Focus EVs moved off dealer lots.
The Focus EV is the ‘oak tree’ of plug-in sales reporting, sure and steady; always ‘one hundred and something’ sales results…you could almost set your watch to it. Previously in August, 175 all-electric Fords were sold.
The only really change in the numbers since the car went on sale came last year as the expansion of the Ford plug-in dealer network to include the Fusion and C-Max Energi line was a big boost to the Focus Electric.
Previously in July, 150 Focus EVs were sold. Taking August into account, 10 out of the last 11 months have seen triple digit sales. The electric Ford could not manage any results in the triple digits before the arrival of the C-Max Energi expanded the dealership footprint.
Ford does seem determined to correct the trend of 100ish sold per month, as Ford slashed 2014 model year pricing by $4,000…down to $35,200, letting their customers and the industry know they were in the business of selling electric cars for more than just their compliance value. We do expect bigger and better things (sales-wise) from Ford to close out the year.
Toyota RAV4 EV: After speaking to a Toyota rep, we managed to eek out the electric RAV4 EV sales a little early, and once again Toyota did not disappoint on sales - 167 were sold in September. The second best result for the electric SUV since it went on sale.
Like its sister Prius, the RAV4 EV set a new high for 2013 in August, when 231 were sold.
To bump 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, it seems to seriously be working – however, Toyota has had some serious ups and downs selling the electric SUV, so until we see 3 or 4 consecutive strong months, we are going to say that Toyota still its work cut out for them trying to sell 2,600 of these over the next year and a half, but a few more months like August and September we force us to change our minds.
Previously in July, Toyota sold 109 units, which made that month the second best month at the time – previous high was 133 in March.
Predictions for sales in October? No way, who knows what deal is (or isn’t) coming from Toyota in the next 30 days.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: In what is turning out to be Fisker-like monthly reporting event, Mitsu sold 20 i-MiEVs in September, after 30 were sold previously in August.
What is the problem? No inventory, as 2013 models never arrived at dealerships this year; only old 2012 models remain. Despite all this, Mitsu touts that sales are “up 123%” this year. Which is true thanks to a massive sell-off in January in February.
However, we can tell you that new model year i-MiEV are coming! We just have no idea when…and until then, there are only a few dozen new copies of the little kei car still available for sale in the US.
Previously, 46 i-MiEVs were sold in July, which is less than a handful of units over what Mitsubishi managed to sell in June.
Again – these sales mean nothing as all that is happening is an inventory sell-off at this point.
As for our statement of “new model year i-MiEVs are coming,” here is what we know:
We exclusively got a hold of someone at Mitsubishi USA on the status of the little Japanese kei car – and while there might not be a next generation for the US, there will be another model year coming…at some point.
“We will continue to sell i-MiEVs in the U.S. and are in midst of determining the timing to introduce a new MY vehicle. We will most likely receive the upgraded features that became available in Canada for 13MY such as the two mode cable for 120V charging which will reduce the charge time from 22hrs (8AMP) to 14hrs (12AMP).“
Honda Accord Plug-In: To say Accord PHEV sales are flat would be an understatement. For September, Honda sold 51 electric Accords.
Practically speaking, the Accord plug-in is the anti-Fit EV, they just can’t sell these things - previously in August 44 were moved off Honda lots.
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? A $40,000 mid-size Honda sedan with 13 miles of electric range is just not something Americans want…and they know it, with little to no inventory available.
Simply put, this should have been an offering from Acura. Still, we have to report the results.
Previously in July, Honda sold 54 of their plug-in Accords. So far in 2013, Honda has sold 298 of the PHEV.
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.
Officially classed as the new year’s first ’2014′ model, the Accord PHEV doesn’t come cheap, as Honda has recently priced the sedan at a very Fusion Energi-like $38,780, markedly higher than consumer expectations for the car. We expect Honda to revisits incentive on the car in the near future.
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.
January of 2014 is expected to see the debut of the 35 mile extended range Cadillac ELR, but at a price most “looking to upgrade” Volt owners will cringe at.
After the ELR, a foot race of sorts will occur between the all-new, purpose built BMW i3 (all the details on that can be found here).
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – a 25(ish) mile extended range SUV that was originally expected in January, then the Spring, then Summer…has apparently now been pushed off until 2015 to allow for Japanese and Eurozone deliveries happening now.