The Toyota Prius PHV Is The Best Selling EV In America For October- And No, We Aren’t Kidding

4 years ago by Jay Cole 49

October Sales Certainly Have Been Recharged

October Sales Certainly Have Been Recharged

Every month we sit down and compile data on all the plug-in vehicles sold in the United States, and so far the same three EVs have won the title each month this year – Chevrolet Volt (3x), Nissan LEAF (3x) and the Tesla Model S (3x)

More Than 2,000 Americans Plugged In A Prius PHV This Month

More Than 2,000 Americans Plugged In A Prius PHV This Month

Well, that trend is over – as the group has expanded by one.  The Toyota Prius PHV now enjoys the same lofty position as its sister Prius does atop hybrids.

Thanks to a considerable reduction in the MSRP of the 2014 Prius plug-in, Toyota sold an amazing 2,095 copies in October, almost double the 1,152 sold in September, narrowly beating out the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF.

  • Toyota Prius PHV 2,095
  • Chevrolet Volt 2,022
  • Nissan LEAF 2,002

Overall sales of the Prius also crossed the 10,000 threshold, with 10,069 sold, good for a sold fourth place overall.

How much did the Prius PHV come down in price this month?  In some cases as much as $4,620 on the Advanced model, and by at least $2,010 on all models.  That reduction brought the plug-in Prius into the physiological holy land of starting at $29,990…and customers responded in a big way.

What is even more significant than the price drop itself, is that Toyota has broken a long-standing issue with auto makers and their plug-ins – lineup creep.

After the federal tax credit of $2,500, the base 2014 Prius Plug-In Hybrid ($27,490) will be cheaper than 2 of the 4 trim levels offered on the standard Prius (Prius 5 MSRP $30,005 and Prius 4 MSRP $28,435).  Tapping into existing Prius Hybrid sales is a mighty big pool of potential buyers.

Toyota Prius PHV From The Inside

Toyota Prius PHV From The Inside

Looking ahead, can Toyota continue this momentum and build on October’s result to stay a top the other players?

Its doubtful, as generally the first month of a drastic price reduction brings about the largest upswing in sales.

As an example, Chevy notched 3,351 sales of the Volt when that EV received a $5,000 haircut.  Also Nissan is shedding capacity restraint problems next month for the first time since the cheaper 2013 model went on sale last March – Toyota would likely have to sell better than 2,500 units in November or December take the crown again in 2013.

In truth, it matters little who ultimately is the top dog; what is more important is that another plug-in vehicle has been met with success.

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49 responses to "The Toyota Prius PHV Is The Best Selling EV In America For October- And No, We Aren’t Kidding"

  1. Spec9 says:

    Wat? I wish people wouldn’t buy that under-batteried half-hearted half-step to make an EV.

    I guess the price cut suckered some people.

    1. Mark Hovis says:

      They have a super loyal HEV following that otherwise isn’t considering a plug. It is all good in the end. This is a 20-50 year journey to the all electric highway. So welcome Pip owners! Stand up and be counted!

      1. GeorgeS says:

        Agreed,
        We need the number of plug ins sold on the upswing and this shoud help.
        Also good to point out by Jay that you can get in a plug in for less than a std Prius, how can one refuse.

        1. vdiv says:

          The only thing more annoying to a LEAF driver from seeing a Volt taking up a public charging spot is a PiP taking up the spot 🙂

          Why would anyone choose to buy a non-plugin Prius at this point?

          1. GeorgeS says:

            Good one vdiv. A piP in a public charging spot.
            That’s worth a good laugh
            It should be outlawed!

            1. kdawg says:

              That’s basically what’s happening. The PiP is only stealing sales from the regular Prius.

          2. io says:

            Why would anyone choose to buy a non-plugin Prius? Cost, unfortunately.

            Although Toyota narrowed the crazy discrepancy that existed between the two (close to 8k$ initially in California; getting a discount on the PiP was about impossible), last time I checked the plug still came at a significant premium (~4k$ before incentives).

            Say someone charges every night, running 11 miles on electricity per day. This saves a little under 1 liter of gas; let’s be generous and count 1$ a day… Not very attractive without some other incentives, e.g. rebates, HOV privileges, or the satisfaction of using less gas and/or more renewable/cleaner resources.

      2. gigglehertz says:

        I agree. I’m guessing the buyers aren’t people who would otherwise buy a Leaf, but people who were already wanting a Prius hybrid, so it grows our ranks. Plus I’m thinking it will be a gateway drug – once people feel comfortable plugging in they’ll crave more and more electric range. I’ll bet the overwhelming majority of PiP owners will opt for full BEV on their next car.

        1. Josh Bryant says:

          Agreed. The recent price reduction has them capturing some of their regular buyers that would have never considered a plug-in. This grows the ownership market and they will likely shop all plug-ins next time around. Every extra car on the road with a plug is moving in the right direction.

    2. Bill Howland says:

      No big surprise to me….. When I first heard about the Prius PIH years ago, I thought it would easily become the best selling EV, and a great ambassador for the EV product line in general simply because the prius itself is so overwhelmingly popular.

      There are better EV’s around. The Prius PIH is a good way for the gas buying public to ‘get their feet wet’ with EV’s.

      And, realistically, the car on an absolute scale isn’t THAT BAD in any event.

  2. ClarksonCote says:

    It’s still a bit surprising. The Prius plug in, after tax credits are factored in, is still more expensive than the Volt ($2500 in credits for the Prius plug in, $7500 for the Volt).

    I guess if you need a fifth seat, then the Prius is for you. Otherwise, if people truly cross-shopped and looked at performance/acceleration, luxury, handling, and smooth silent driving, the Volt wins hands down.

    1. GeorgeS says:

      Hey Clarkson. I gave your inverter wiring set a pl;ug on GM V today. Hope sales are OK.

    2. Phil Kulak says:

      The Volt is a bit small for some people. 4 seats and 10 ft^3 of cargo space will not do it for my family. At least, road trips would be impossible, and then what’s the point of the gas engine? If the Leaf didn’t exist, I’d have probably gotten a PIP.

      1. Kent says:

        What kind of road trip can you do in a Leaf?

    3. evnow says:

      For some buying a domestic is a bigger leap than buying a plugin.

    4. Puzzlegal says:

      Or if you trust Toyota more than you trust GM or Ford.

      (The Leaf is not really in competition with a car with a gas tank you can conveniently fill anywhere along your road trip.)

  3. David Murray says:

    I’ve been saying this for a while. If Toyota got the price to the point that after tax credits, the PiP costs the same as a Prius, lots more people would buy them. They’d mostly be people that didn’t do any research, but rather walked into a Toyota dealer looking for a Prius and discovered the PiP was the same price.

    If Toyota REALLY wanted to move the PiP in some serious numbers, they could start selling them nation wide instead of just in a handful of markets. I could easily see them being the leader of plug-ins with 4,000 or more each month. Even though, admittedly, they make the crappiest of all plug-ins.

    1. EV says:

      prius is ugly

      1. David Murray says:

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Comments like that have no meaning for me. I think the Prius is very attractive and I’ve owned several over the years. We have a Volt and Leaf now. We’ve been told by several people that the Leaf is cute, the Leaf is ugly, the Volt is cool looking, the Volt is ugly. For every car out there somebody believes it is ugly and somebody believes it is beautiful.

        1. Assaf says:

          Spot-on David.

          IMHO, cars are not supposed to be “beautiful”.

          Generally speaking, if they are designed smartly, economically and aerodynamically, then they will also be reasonably aesthetic, or at least self-consistent.

          All these stupid arguments about whether the Leaf/Prius are “ugly”, are fashion-driven.

          Do cars from the 1980s look “beautiful” nowadays? Most people would find most of them ugly. But cars from the 1960s or older are now looked at as if they were works of art.

      2. Aaron says:

        @EV: Sometimes I type comments, then think, “does this bring anything of use to the conversation?” If the answer is “no”, then I don’t post the comment.

        You should consider doing the same. Your comment, “prius is ugly”, brings nothing to the conversation.

  4. Think the mixed use of PHEV & PHV is confusing. The EPA appears to have standardized on PHEV. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/phevtech.shtml This being a poor naming choice by Toyota than the authors choice of wording.

    Is the Prius PH(E)V is able to complete the EPA driving routes in EV mode? The longest (11.04 City test) appears within 21 mile Prius PH(E)V range; just curious as have not seen explicitly stated.

    3-way EV competition is great for EV consumers… Perhaps Model S will up the anti by being the 4th EV to exceed 2000 per month. Tesla should state production numbers with its earnings report next week. (It’s been 3 months since last production update)

    1. kdawg says:

      Tesla has already had a couple months over 2k.

  5. miimura says:

    SF Bay area inventory scan (200mi from 94101 on Cars.com):

    PiP: 434
    Volt: 185
    Leaf: 516

    In the past I could find a couple dealers with 70 to 90 Volts in stock. Those same dealers are now down around 20. However, there are Nissan dealers showing deep stock – 87 units and 81 units. Toyota has two dealers with 40+ and 50+ PiP on hand.

    1. David Murray says:

      GM has really let inventory drop. Now with the ELR coming out, nobody seems to know if they will be able to catch up on inventory for the Volt anytime soon.

  6. io says:

    Great to see sales go up, but please ô please let’s stop confusing “plug-in” with “EV”. Those two terms mean something very different, and you’re doing a great disservice to us readers by suddenly mixing them up.

    1. Assaf says:

      I actually agree with site editors, that the term “EV” should be read as

      “any car with an electric drive, that can be driven using power from the plug”.

      After this, you can distinguish between subtypes: BEVs, PHEVs, EREVs, etc. etc….

      1. io says:

        Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. I find it unfortunate and detrimental that one or two bloggers on this site have apparently decided otherwise, maybe in a pointless attempt to make the domain name they choose (probably at a time when they were no plug-in hybrids) sound more all-encompassing?

        The E in EV stands for electric — everyone agrees on this, right?
        Unless otherwise qualified (like with an H in front for hybrid), it’s just that, electric.

        Again, you can’t just take part of an acronym and declare that anything that ends with it is a “subtype”. Take PZEVs (partially/part-time zero-emission vehicles) and AT-PZEVs. They are not ZEVs “subtypes” — they are not zero-emission in the first place.

        Anyway, don’t take my word for it; those guys explain what an EV is better than I can:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_vehicle
        http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml

        If further demonstration was needed, you might notice that anything manufacturers call EV or just electric — Fit EV, Spark EV, Focus Electric, Smart Electric Drive, RAV4 EV — are indeed EVs, not PHVs or some other form of multi-fuel vehicles.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          …not everything is conspiracy, (=

          Sometimes writing sentences like “The Toyota Prius plug-in was the best selling plug-in, just beating out the Volt plug-in,” just sounds awkward.

        2. Mark H says:

          The English language uses “you” for second person plural. Americans have filled the void with youse guys, you guys, ya’ll, etc. In this case, more sites than this one have looked to coin a generic term to include topics that effect BEVs and PHEVs. So what word would you suggest when you wish to speak to the “movement” that both BEVs and PHEVs impact? A term is needed. InsideEVs adopted this long before I visited.
          Some sites cast their net even wider to include HEVs when they choose to discuss the electrical auto evolution.

          I do think it is important to refer to each category when speaking specifically about any given auto. For me personally, I embrace the generic EV term because I really think it helps to increase the goal of achieving an electric highway.

          There are a LOT of people who are oblivious to the industry. When you tell them there were 50,000+ EVs sold in the US market last year it has one impact. By your definition, there were less than 14,000 and very easy to dismiss. This is what matters. IMO

  7. kdawg says:

    The PiP was the #1 seller in April of 2012 as well.

    1. Josh Bryant says:

      Your right, and again in November ’12. How quickly we forgot, after this year started so badly for PiP sales.

      I was able to find that out by the handy plots you made on your site 🙂

  8. Ocean Railroader says:

    I really think from this point on it’s going to be the Plug in Prius’s world and all the other EV’s and plug ins are not going to come anywhere near it. Such as I think next month it could very well go past 3000 or more in that the Prius is a common and lovable car. Not to mention they cut the price of it down into the same field as the other common hybrid cars.

    1. Assaf says:

      Right now they are selling it in only 12 states… if they go 50 then that’s definitely a possibility.

      Although with Nissan’s US plant officially able to crank out 150k Leafs/year at some point, I strongly doubt your “from this point on…”

      The factory’s currently producing just over the 30k/year rate, and the Leaf is becoming known and loved far more rapidly than the Prius did in its early years. If the 2014 model, or at least the 2015, also bring a healthy range boost – the sky’s the limit for the Leaf.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        I always thought that if the Leaf could get up to a 150 miles battery range it’s sales would explode into at least above 5000 in one sitting and might even start nibbling at the Versa’s sales. In that a 150 is less worrisome then say 80.

  9. Priusmaniac says:

    That is what happens when there is no competition in plug-in cars, indeed if you look at the affordable cars that have 5 seats and have an overall autonomy of 400 miles, you are left with the plug-in Prius and perhaps Ford Cmax energi.

    1. Assaf says:

      One can also say: this is what happens when Toyota is a bit better than quarter-assed about actually selling its PHEV version. Until now they were ridiculously overpriced for an addition of <3 KWh to the battery and a plug, compared to the non-plug version.

      Once they also expand the PiP to 50 states, this can become their most popular Prius trim.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        The Plug in Prius should be come the standard Prius thanks to their price cuts but this also shows that anyone who waited for it’s price to come down is now making out like fat rats.

        1. David Murray says:

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. They should get rid of the standard Prius and bump up production on the PHEV model and make it the standard model. If you want a Prius, you are getting one with a plug on it, period. Then offer higher-end models with more range, etc.

          1. Spin says:

            I’ll say this again. That is a bad, bad, bad idea. Some folks don’t want a plug-in because they don’t have a place to plug in. They just want a reliable 50+ MPG car.

            1. David Murray says:

              Who cares? If the price is the same (which it would be after tax credits) if they never plug it in, they are no worse off. Maybe when they sell the car on the used market, the next driver will make use of it.

    2. Puzzlegal says:

      We shopped the Prius, the Cmax, and the Fusion. We somehow over-looked the Volt, thinking it was a pure electric and didn’t have enough range.

      We ended up with the C-max, mostly for reasons unique to us and our driving habits. (It has enough range for husband’s daily commute and common evening activities; it has better visibility than the Prius; it is smaller and easier to park than the Fusion; the hatchback style means there is still some cargo room despite the big battery, unlike the Fusion.)

      Except for some software glitches in the Cmax, it has worked out great for us. And I’m hopeful that Ford/Microsoft will eventually stamp out all those glitches — most have already been addressed.

      1. Aaron says:

        Ford seems to have given us several vehicles that were still in beta testing mode. They were a little quick to try to bring their product to market to fight Toyota. Now they have to deal with all the recalls and bad press. Not a good choice in my opinion.

        1. AzKid says:

          Psssssss..Bad Press???……From Consumer Reports….a group that is losing credibility……Computer glitches are quite common and that is the only “serious” recall/complaint filed..Quite bogus in my opinion.

          1. io says:

            Shooting the messenger, huh?

            “Glitches” are defects, plain and simple. Just because it’s software doesn’t mean it can’t be serious.
            For example: http://insideevs.com/focus-electrics-recalled-as-ford-finally-reacts-to-the-stop-safely-now-power-loss-problem/

          2. Priusmaniac says:

            Computer glitches are the worst ones you can have since you can’t do much about it. A lamp goes down you can replace it, a 12 V battery is dead, you replace it, but a glitch that come and goes and no one to seriously fix it, can be really annoying. Even the Prius has some glitches like the stand still motor generating but nothing indicated on the screen, or that pesky noise when you move in reverse that you can’t cancel if you want to (except on certain models from certain countries).

  10. shawn Marshall says:

    Toyota can probably do what it wants with the PIP as far as pricing and adding range in the future. My guess is they are enjoying the popularity of Prius while awaiting true battery advances. They are in position to do what they want when they want and they keep telling us BEVs are not the way to go yet. At 50 mpg, cheap gas and a silent mode for short trips, the PIP seems Pritty good.

  11. Martin T says:

    I do not still understand why the general public is still slow – bit like Toyota’s progress to a proper PHEV – that people aren’t flocking to the GM Volt?

    Are they not “ready” for the next step up…. ?

    PS If there in the Prius PHEV market and they have to have a Japanese brand,
    then Honda has a more up to date drive train – in the Accord hybrid and plug 2014. model year.

    Bring on the completion, it may just help even Toyota to start forging ahead into the future again…

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      The Volt has one major shortcoming it has only 4 seats. For families with 3 children it is a, no start, scenario.
      Even for other people, many still want 5 places like in any other normal car for friends, for a dog or simple for the kid to be able to exit on the pedestrian walkway side instead of the traffic side.