2013 Electric Vehicle Sales Predictions, Can You Handle Them?


Editor’s Note:  We get a lot of requests to do a piece estimating our sentiment for the upcoming year when it comes to projecting sales of electric vehicles; and while that story sounds enthralling to read, it also scares the heck out of most of our regular writers, for fear they be proven inaccurate.  

Some writers here claim some nonesense about journalistic integrity, while others just pretend to not check their inboxes.  Only contibutor Josh Bryant had the fortitude (or stupidity) to make his opinion known: 

Let’s look into our collective crystal ball and take a shot at predicting the US EV auto sales for 2013 (without getting into the how and why). And seeing how all the readers here at InsideEVs have a pretty good grasp on the industry, I think we could make a pretty good consensus guess at the EV sales this year. Here is a list of sales predictions to get us started:

Major EVs:

  • Chevrolet Volt – 30,000 (+27.9%)
  • Nissan LEAF – 15,000 (+52.8%)
  • Plug-In Prius – 8,000 (-21.6%)
  • Tesla Model S – 15,000 (+500%)
  • Ford Focus Electic – 2,000 (+192%)
  • Ford C-Max Energi – 12,000 (+405%)
  • Ford Fusion Energi – 1,000
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 400 (-32.0%)

Mystery/unkown EVs:

  • Honda Accord PHEV – 500
  • Honda Fit EV – 200
  • Toyota RAV4 EV – 750
  • Fiat 500e – 250
  • Chevrolet Spark EV – 2,000

87,100 Total Sales

Comment below to help revise these numbers into a group 2013 sales prediction.

The author of this story, Josh Bryant heads up EV Badges, and in exchange for him being burned alive in the comments section, we thought we would also encourage him to write a little ditty about his own business venture:

EV Badges is a group dedicated to promoting all plug-in vehicle technology. We have created a symbol to unite the EV community, even if OEMs are trying to divide us on the basis of technology (BEV, EREV, Plug-in Hybrid, etc.). The message is simple: Any vehicle with a plug is a good technology. We get this message across through a chrome-plated, injection molded plastic badge, created using the exact same process as US luxury auto manufacturers. 10% of the sale of each badge goes directly to support Plug In America and the important advocacy work that they do.

Category: General

36 responses to "2013 Electric Vehicle Sales Predictions, Can You Handle Them?"
  1. Bloggin says:

    I see Leaf staying at about 12k

    Volt should hit 30k

    Volt, C-Max\Fusion Energi will eat more into PIP sales, down to 8k max

    Model S at 15k is good

    Ford must be planning to offer some nice incentives and lease deals, along with actual print/tv marketing of the Energi and Focus Electric vehicles, to justify 900 many dealers investing so much to become certified.

    With that said. I expect Focus Electric to pull more sales from Leaf….to 5k

    C-Max Energi should hit over 15k being available in all 50 states and marketing

    If Volt can sell 30k, Fusion Energi should be able to hit 5k with 900 dealers, incentives and marketing.

    1. Josh says:

      I agree that Ford has the most upside. To this point, Ford hasn’t shown the same commitment as GM and Nissan to get the plug-ins moving. The most recent discounting of the FFE is the first signs, let’s hope there is more of that.

  2. David Murray says:

    I’m honestly hoping the Leaf will come closer to 20,000 this year. We’ll probably have a better idea in March after the inventory levels have been replenished with the new model.

  3. James says:

    I don’t like overemphasis on sales numbers, especially monthly tallies – it’s
    something the conventional car industry obsesses upon, and since the
    EV/PHEV/EREV market is SO TINY at the moment, it can convey through
    the media that EVs and the like are just a failure – in fact I read it every day
    in various “news” sources ( they always quote auto sites who faithfully list
    the numbers ).

    That said, as long as I’m being asked for my opinion, I’ll bite – Maybe this
    is like sports outlets who have their staff chime in on who will win what
    game or championship…. Of course, some eat crow when they’re off, and
    others get to gloat a little. Maybe IEVs can offer a dinner coupon at Olive
    Garden or something as a prize at the end of the year to whom gets it
    closest ( ? ) : ) EV Badges.com is a fantastic idea.
    ( Plug In ) POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

    My PiCKs:

    Major EVs:

    Volt – 18,500

    LEAF – 26,500

    PIP – 15,500

    Model S – 16,500

    Focus EV – 5,500

    C-Max Energi – 12,800; [ C-Max Hybrid ] – 42,000
    Fusion Energi – 6,250; [ Fusion Hybrid ] – 60,000

    Mitsubishi i – 500

    Mystery/unkown EVs:

    Accord PHEV – 795

    Fit E – 200

    RAV 4 EV – 850

    Fiat 500e – 500

    Spark EV – 5,000

    109,395 Total Sales

    1. James says:

      * USA sales numbers only

      1. James says:

        Oh yeah,

        ELR: 1,795

    2. ClarksonCote says:

      A predicted decrease in Volt sales from 2012? Ouch James! :-p

    3. Future Leaf Driver says:

      A little high on the Ford numbers but overall I agree with the guesses!

      With the new entry level price for the Leaf, Im sure a lot of buyers were on the fence until they dipped below 30K and with the tax rebate, one can be had for under 23K. Thats amazing considering the original price 2 years ago! Nissan is getting serious about selling here now.

      Once the stock arrives they should be selling quick!

      1. James says:

        Well, I predicated my projections based upon early Fusion sales.
        Since it’s January, it’s hard to predict where Fusion will end up
        in it’s category against the runaway leader Camry. I tried to
        calculate a number near the percentage of Camry buyers who
        opt for the hybrid model. For it’s first full month-and-half, Fusion
        was 2nd only to F-150 in sales volume.

        Toyota estimated 20% of Prius buyers would opt for a V model
        which was accurate at first but has tapered off sharply, esp.
        after the C-Max entered the fray.


  4. ClarksonCote says:

    A decrease in PiP sales? I’m guessing all major players will see increases, especially Toyota just due to brand loyalty, even if PiP is the weakest of Plug ins from an electrified standpoint.

    Tesla’s estimate also seems a bit high IMHO.

    I could be wrong though!

    1. James says:

      We could use Fisker and Coda for tie-breakers – LOL,
      – although I think most of us feel they’re on life-support
      at best – at present.

      Yes – I predict a decline in Volt sales – there’s nothing new for ’13
      Volt but small tweaks the general public doesn’t know or care about.
      That’s “general public” not us EV aficionados and early adopters.
      To me, there is no doubt C-Max Energi and to a lesser extent,
      Fusion Energi, will cut into Volt’s prospective buyers. There may
      even be a more significant number of ELR buyers who may have
      bought a Volt, but find the luxe and flash of a Caddy EREV coupe
      more meet their desires.

      Even with ELR fill-ins, I predict more Hamtramck shutdowns this
      year and even bigger price/lease incentives for Volt and PIPrius.

      I recently went back and reviewed the Town Meeting in 2008
      where Bob Lutz, John Laukner, Frank Weber, Andrew Farah,
      Tony Posawatz and others spoke directly to Lyle Dennis’ Volt Nation
      at the NAIAS. In that discourse it was conveyed that GM had several
      ideas at the time for different directions for the Voltec system but
      time and an extremely fast development schedule predicated that
      they storm ahead with what they had ( current Volt ) at that point.
      This gives me hope that 2015 gen 2 Volt will wow us with some
      unexpected changes.

      Naturally, competition is good and Ford marketing the C-Max
      PHEV with 15-20 miles AER + the Fusion PHEV with seating
      for 5 gives GM some measure of what this emerging market
      will bear. In the short term it’ll mean less Volts sold.

      1. Josh says:

        Fisker and Coda are missing for the obvious reasons, also since they keep mum about how many they (don’t) sell.

        ELR and i3 are not on this list as their numbers may not show up until 2014, but we can add them onto the “comment revised numbers” 🙂

      2. ClarksonCote says:

        I have a slightly different prediction, in that the Volt numbers will continue to increase. I base this on the viral nature of how much people love their cars, and with each one sold, they share that information with other people, compelling them to try it too.

        We should place a friendly wager just to make things interesting. 😉

    2. Josh says:

      The PiP was one of the numbers I struggled with the most, but I think they are really going to get squeezed with the Volt and C-Max Energi. If they make a change in pricing/leasing incentives, they could easily push past that number.

      As far as Tesla, it seems they have gotten the kinks worked out of their production (roughly 400/week or more) and have enough backlog of US orders to almost hit that number without new sales. I think the real thing to watch is what orders gets priority when they have to start shipping to EU and Asia. 2014 will be the year Tesla finds out if there is sustained demand for Model S.

    3. James says:

      Tesla was tough to determine – so I just chopped a random
      number off the peak 400 per week they promised. We know
      things arise, such as supply shortages or recalls. I just
      put up an optimistic number since I’m a big Tesla fanboy. 🙂

  5. kdawg says:

    No Fisker Karmas 🙂

    1. James says:

      No CODAs – hey, can you blame me?

  6. kdawg says:

    Is this like Price is Right where I can bid $1 if I think everyone has overbid?

  7. Jeffrey R says:

    Agreed . and FYI i drive my Cmax Energi on suburban roads to work and ive been averaging 23miles per charge. rare when you get more than what they estimate. I almost feel bad for the people that paid more than i did for their plug in prius that gets half the ev range

  8. Jay Cole says:

    For the record I disagree with what everyone is guessing in this thread, and will throw all these numbers in your faces 11 months from now…without making any predictions myself.

    Chicken with journalistic integrity (and a non-responding email)

    1. James says:

      Well, to be fair you are taking yourself out of the contest
      because your superior knowledge of industry trends and
      inside connections within major think tanks would preclude
      any layman from winning the Olive Garden trophy.

  9. Ken Chan says:

    Josh: Where can I get an EV Badge? Thanks

    1. Josh says:

      http://www.EVbadges.com, thanks for checking it out!

  10. Cavaron says:

    Thanks Josh for being brave – I would love to see the real numbers compared to this in 11 months (let’s see if at least Jay reminds to do that).

    Over all I think the 81,100 sold EVs maybe a bit to conservative. Maybe we can cross the 100.000… but I’m prepared to eat my own words at the end of this year 🙂

  11. Schmeltz says:

    Josh = Brave

    I agree pretty much with Josh’s guestimates. Unless some massive money gets put on the hood, and that could happen, then I think sales are going to be incrementally better, but not strong.

    1. James says:

      Josh = brave; James = ???

      C’mon prognosticators – you know a lot about the industry,
      let’s hear more projections. Why not?

      I stuck my neck out too!

  12. BlindGuy says:

    I agree with your estimates Josh; they seem quite reasonable. The X factor of course will be gas prices. If more 120v workplace chargers are made available, more Plug-ins will come. I might just have to get one of those EV badges  .

    1. Josh says:

      Gas prices are definitely a wild card, I didn’t list my assumptions, but I was figuring gas hovering in the $3.50 – $4.00 range.

      Widespread 120V workplace charging would really help the sales, especially for the Volt, PiP, C-Max, etc. effectively doubling their EV range and improving the economics for buyers with longer commutes.

      I think the rollout of more extensive L3 charging is critical for building demand for the LEAF. We will see how Nissan progresses with their plans this year.

      1. Anthony says:

        “Widespread 120V workplace charging would really help the sales, especially for the Volt, PiP, C-Max, etc. effectively doubling their EV range and improving the economics for buyers with longer commutes.”

        This. This. This.

        While I don’t think the EV/PHEV technology problem is “solved”, its on a glidepath for a smooth landing between 2020-2025. What determines how fast we get there, and how smooth the landing feels is now highly tied to EV charging stations. The biggest priority should be employment centers – allowing people who buy EVs/PHEVs to extend their battery range for their commute. Second is connivence charging at places like shopping malls and movie theaters.

  13. Stuart22 says:

    I think the guesses are pretty good overall. Biggest questionmark I have is with the Spark EV – 2000 unit sales could be too optimistic, or it could be way too low. It all depends upon what inventory levels and marketing plans GM will take with it. If they commit to one year of high profile publicity and marketing backing up a decent inventory; and if Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track, etc. media evaluations rave about its performance, sales could end up 4 or 5 times higher.

    1. Josh says:

      Yeah, the Spark EV is a real wild card. I am likely to be way off on this, maybe I should have said 2000 +/- 2000 🙂

      I think the 400 lb-ft of torque will impress drivers over the other similar options, but there could be some production issues seeing that A123 is the battery cell supplier.

      1. Stuart22 says:

        Thinking more about it, 2013 sales for the Spark won’t be over the full calendar year and so 2000 units might be where things end up if GM provides consistent marketing, there is favorable publicity, and inventories stay in pace with demand.

  14. evnow says:

    Low on PIP, high on Spark EV & Volt (is there a GM bias ?).

    I expect PIP, Leaf, Energi, Model S to all sell about 1,000 to 1,500 a month.

    Also, Mitsu i will sell more than 400 (they sold 275 in Jan !).

    One thing to note is if the numbers go below ’12, the marketers will get into action and offer incentives to move the car. Just like they did for Leaf in ’12. So, PIP will not sell less in ’13 compared to ’12 – the PIP marketers will see to it. BTW, ’12 PIP was not a full year.

  15. Josh says:

    No GM bias, for the record I drive a LEAF. GM is just a little further along in building/distributing/selling the Volt and a year without negative political press should help them out.

    That Mitsu i number for January is a shocker! I guess $69/mo leases will do that.

    The PiP number is looking pretty low, isn’t it? I am probably underestimating the brand loyalty of the Prius and overestimating the competition with the C-Max/Volt.

    1. evnow says:

      I think Spark EV will sell about the same as Fit EV & RAV4. I’ve no reason to believe it will be distributed any wider than those two.

  16. Bonaire says:

    We’re getting to the, or past the, limits of public charging infrastructure. If 2013 sells as many new EVs as 2012, then either there will be oversaturation of public charging spots or heavier demand for businesses to install either 120V plugs or L2 solutions. The problem now is some people may not buy EVs because they cannot charge anywhere other than home – the inverse will be true to help spawn a lot more EV sales if more plugs were available.