April Plug-In Sales Up 20% – Gains Led By Surging Toyota Prius PHV

MAY 4 2014 BY JAY COLE 32

The numbers are in for April, and the growth of the electric vehicle industry in the United States shows no signs of slowing down, as sales were up 20.5% during the month, with 8,605 plug-ins sold.   Although technically, with an extra selling day on the book in April of 2013, sales were up 25.3% this month.  (full YTD monthly chart below)

BMW i3

Waiting To Help Out May Sales; These US BMW i3s At Port

For the 6th month in a row, the Nissan LEAF took home the “top seller” award, and was the only plug-in able to crack the 2,000-level (2,088) in April.

Also of note, the Chevrolet Volt improved its year-over-year numbers (for only the 2nd time in 8 months) by 17.5% by selling 1,548 cars, and in so doing reclaimed the second spot for best selling EVs in 2014.

The biggest surprise result of the month was either the Toyota Prius PHV’s continued resurgence – selling 1,741 cars during the month, or the Cadillac ELR’s lack of sales at just 61 units.

Winning the “B Division” – something we call the group of vehicles after the big 6 EVs who duke it out for top spot every month (mostly a mix of low run and regional compliance cars for the most part), was the smart ED with an amazing 203 units sold.

The smart ED sales were “amazing” in April not just because it is a tiny 2 seat EV with limited available inventory, but because 20% of all the smarts sold – gas or otherwise – were of the plug-in variety.  Expressed as revenue, almost 40% of the brand’s revenue comes via the plug.

Below:  Random points of interest for April of 2014

Other Than The Model S Is To Tesla, No Other EV Is As Important To The Brand As The smart ED

Other Than The Model S Is To Tesla, No Other EV Is As Important To The Brand As The smart ED

Top Electric Vehicle Automakers (last month):

  1. Nissan – 2,088 (1)
  2. Toyota – 1,810 (5)
  3. General Motors – 1,706 (3)
  4. Ford – 1,384 (2)
  5. Tesla – 1,100* (4)

New All-Time Best Selling Month:

  • smart ED – 206

New Yearly High:

  • Toyota PHV  +289  (1,741 vs 1,452 Mar)
  • Chevrolet Volt  +70   (1,538 vs 1,478 Mar)
  • smart ED  +17  (204 vs 186 Mar)
  • Honda Fit EV  +13 (50 vs 37 Mar) 
  • Honda Accord PHEV  +10  (37 vs 27 Jan)
2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers) *Fiat 500edate estimated for Jan/Feb.

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers) *Fiat 500edate estimated for Jan/Feb.

Categories: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota


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32 Comments on "April Plug-In Sales Up 20% – Gains Led By Surging Toyota Prius PHV"

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Whats the total sales for ELR so far? 300? They e mailed me the other day and I contacted them and told them the price is way too high. I told them most EV buyers would prefer a base odel S for that kinda money.

I just did the math and fully 17% of all Prius liftbacks sold in the USA were of the plug-in variety. that means almost 1 out of 5. That is really an amazing number, and further strengthens the case I have made for a while that Toyota should eliminate the standard hybrid and make all of their Prius line plug-ins…

The same could be said of the Cmax because 1 out of 4 Cmax cars sold in the USA are of the plug-in model.

By making them all plug-ins, economies of scale should work out to get the price down similar to the cost of the non-plug in (and pretty much the same cost if you have any government incentives)

Presumably the stellar Toyota PiP numbers are reflecting Calfornia residents snapping these up before green HOV sticker expiration, and also PiP prices have really come down a lot in CA, sometimes below Prius hybrid (after incentives). I am still awaiting ElectricDrive.org’s April figures, but seems like the improved plug_in sales are coming at the expense of hybrid sales (which are down thru March). BTW I do not think we have any public data on %PiPs nor %Volts sold in CA, but it seem like the April trends of increased PHEV sales could be mainly a CA-phenom related to green HOV stickers.

I hope this was just a green sticker surge and that Pip sales drop off a cliff. People should not buy that under batteried disappointment.

Sorry, I disagree… Granted, if they are buying it instead of a Volt or something better, then sure. But I suspect most are buying it instead of a regular Prius Liftback, in which case it makes perfect sense. This is especially true when considering the tax credits that make it end up costing the same as an equivalent Prius liftback.

Problem is they may give plug-ins a bad name and also clog up chargers.

I’m with David. I would never get one, but this thing is a gateway drug, and it’s great for the plug-in industry as a whole.



Interesting that Ford’s numbers declined this month compared to last month.

I guess it’s good that piP numbers went up as we want all plug in numbers increasing. I have a Volt and a Gen 2 Prius (non plug in). I don’t think I would spend the extra bucks for the plug in Prius though.

I’m sad about Ford’s numbers. I own a C-max, and hoped it would catch on. Popular cars are cheaper to service, etc.

I hope the Hybrid is doing okay, since that shares a lot of the same parts.

There are supposed to be ‘engineering’ updates for the MY2015 C-MAX Hybrid that’s being expedited, which has a production start in Sept, creating a shorter 10 month MY2014 for the current model.

When sales dropped for the C-MAX Hybrid, Ford did what Toyota is doing now, which is dropping the lease price of the plug-in version close to the hybrid version to ease the transition to plug-in. Toyota has gone one further by offering a low $999 down along with $279/mo for the plug-in, that’s just $30/mo more than the non-plug Prius with the same down.

Which is why non plug Prius sales are down 24% and plug-in sales are up.

Ford still has a high $3,599 down on the plug-in and $3,299 on the Hybrid, which boosted sales of the plug-in a bit, but did not help the hybrid.

Then there is the Fusion Hybrid that offers 47 mpg and is just $10/mo more than a smaller C-MAX Hybrid.

Can you describe those engineering updates ? Does it involve moving the battery away from the trunk ?

That would be a huge improvement. 🙂 It would be an even huger improvement for the Fusion. Everyone says “the Fusion is larger”, but I don’t get it. Yes, the exterior is larger, so it is harder to park. The cabin of the C-Max is HUGE, because the thing is so tall. The Fusion may be a little longer, but my very tall friends fit fine in the C-max. And the C-Max is a hatchback, so there actually is some storage space if you don’t have a full load of people. The Fusion has no truck space, and no real way to do anything about that. For instance, we can fit my husband’s bicycle in the back of the C-Max. I can’t imagine there is any way to do that with the Fusion.

I’m obviously missing something, since the Fusion is selling better than the C-max. But it seemed like a worse vehicle in every way when I test drove the two of them. It even had an oddly placed seat-belt mount in the back that made one of the side back seats quite uncomfortable.

After sitting in both, I felt the Fusion was nicer inside, more plush/refined. Could be why it’s more expensive.

The Fusion may have sold more the last month but the Cmax is outselling overall. 11686 vs. 9064

After testing the C-Max I sent an email to Ford that I would have bought the car if it had more usable trunk space. Somebody replied to it saying they take all customer feedback into consideration.
No idea how people can move stuff around in a Fusion.

I think the people that want the PIP sales to drop off a cliff are short sighted, as well are the people that want Toyota to make only PIPs. The more options we have, the better. Someone that lives in an apartment with no ability to charge at home has no need for a PIP, while it might be a perfect solution for someone that has a commute that falls within its electric range.

The plug in Prius would be perfect for an apartment dweller with no place to plug in.

You can recharge the plug in off of a standard AA flashlight battery. 🙂

I feel the opposite about the apartment situation. Having a lot of PiPs will only improve that situation. A Pip’s battery is small enough that it isn’t going to be a huge problem not to be able to charge it regularly. They can drive it on gas.

Ultimately we need apartments to start putting in chargers or at least 120V outlets. Right now there just aren’t enough tenants demanding it. But if more of them have PiPs then maybe they would!

Hi Jay. I notice the 500e numbers for Mar & Apr do not have a *. Did FIAT see the light and started releasing actual sales numbers? That would be very good news.

Fiat is not releasing the numbers directly on the 500e but Baum and Associates has gotten access to them the last two months somehow, (=

“Ford – 1,384 (2)”
Shouldn’t Ford be (3)?

Never mind 🙂

Another solid month, what I would really love to see is a step change in numbers this summer.

That step I think would come from:

1. Toyota/Lexus offering a Plug as an option on all of it’s hybrids at a competitive price (even if its as puny as the PiP version)
2. Nissan offering a 150 mile Leaf as the top trim level.
3. Ford “selling” their plugin range (I don’t know anything about selling but I can’t understand why the Volt and the PiP out sell both Energi models 2 to 1)

I suspect only Ford has the spare manufacturing capacity to pull any of the above off but I’d love to proven wrong.

I am loving the posts about crowding at the charge points, this industry is only 3 years old, to already see some signs of loaded infrastructure is really great news let’s hope it results in expansion rather than frustration.

I agree about the infrastructure. We don’t have much around where I live and what little we have is rarely used. I would love to see more cars parked there because it would be an incentive to build more stations!

A bunch just went in near where I park. Unfortunately, they are behind a key-card wall (you ned ID to use them) but I’m thrilled to see there is enough demand for MIT to build more charging spaces.

would 150 mile range with an attractive lease(under 300?) hit the sweet spot – say 10,000 cars a month?

..with a reasonable loaner program for road trips

The few people I know who purchased a plug in prius never plug them in. They just bought them for the carpool lane sticker.

We can now expect to see lower says of Volt, PIPs, and Fords.

I ONLY leased Pip just for the HOV sticker. I’ll be happy to turn it back in 3 yrs, since the car drives slower than sh*t.

I’m waiting/hoping for Chevy to release a 6 seater voltec with 50+ electric range.

How are you estimating Tesla numbers?

Tesla monthly numbers are estimating by using state data as it is available, company status updates, plus physical tracking of production and delivery reports from the ground.

Those monthly numbers are then adjusted (as need be) as more accurate information becomes available during Tesla’s quarterly report or subsequent conference call.

As a point of interest through 7 quarters of reporting, our cumulative 3 month estimates have never been out more than 300 units. Average margin of error has been 125 units…so we are pretty good at it. Hope that helps you out for your own estimates/reporting.