August 2012 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

SEP 4 2012 BY JAY COLE 21

The month of August is really about the ‘have’ and the ‘have nots’ in the plug-in business.

Chevrolet had another big month (their biggest ever), while some of the fully electric cars continued to struggle to find ground.  Nissan LEAF sales, while still low comparatively speak, was still their highest volume monthly result so far this year.

The list is populated as it is reported in real time by each manufacturer throughout the day.


2012 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: 2,831 Volts were sold in August, crushing the 1,849 sold last month.  August sales were also an all-time for the Volt. (GM sales PDF here)

Of note, August sales were helped by some significant pressure at the dealership level to move metal.

General Motor’s also announced that the Volt’s Hamtramck assembly plant will be idled for 4 weeks beginning September 17th in order to “tool up” for the new Chevrolet Impala.  GM did over-produce to demand this month, building 3,688 Volts (and 1,163 Amperas) in Michigan this month.  (GM production pdf here)


2012 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF:  685 Leafs were sold in August, a marked improvement from the 395 cars Nissan managed to move in July, and Nissan’s highest level of the year.  (Nissan August Sales PDF here)

This may be an indication that things are starting to turn around as some more attractive financing deals have come online.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has also said that September’s sales be the start of the turnaround,  “…you can expect to see the sales move up dramatically starting in September.” 

Battery production in Smyrna, TN is now online to some degree and actual US made LEAFs are expected in December.   There is also a report saying both a price cut and a longer range LEAF may be in store very shortly.  Either would help sales significantly.


2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S:  Unlike larger auto manufacturers, Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales.  However, they do give out updates occasionally.  With a week left in the month, Tesla had 45 cars set to be delivered in August.  However, a sensor issue held all deliveries to customers up until August 27th.

We have heard from two SSL (Signature Series Performance models) reservists that they received their car over the weekend, and perhaps a dozen in total where delivered during the calendar month.

Several Signature Performance holders have been notified their cars are ready, or will be ready shortly.  September looks to see Tesla finally break loose and deliver several hundred copies of the Model S.


Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma:  Like Tesla (only worse), Fisker does not report monthly sales, however, that won’t stop us from doing some napkin back delivery calculations based on Euro regeistration reports and production/VIN numbers of cars leaving its Valmont assembly plant in Finland.

After passing 2,000 cars produced earlier this summer, it looks to us that Fisker added about 250 cars in August worldwide, most sold on delivery.   Separately, the Sunset and Surf, both variants of the Karma will not be helping Fisker achieve its goal of 4,000 units sold, as both were put on hiatus this month for the company to focus on getting the already delays Atlantic to market.



2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In: Of the 21,000 plus cars sold in the ‘Prius family,’ a very healthy 1,047  were plug-ins.  In the previous month of July, Toyota sold 688 Prius plug-ins.

The car had seemed to have found a balance around 700 units per month, but Toyota financing incentives in the month of August may have convinced additional buyers into the showroom.  The Prius plug-in was sold off lots in 14 states across the US.




2013 Honda Fit EV (which messes up our display of all black EVs because it only comes in Reflection Blue)

Honda Fit EV: In honda’s first full month selling leasing the Fit EV in North America, they sold only 9.

Trying our darndest to be positive, August sales are a 28% improvement over July’s, in which 7 Fit EVs were sold.

Honda says it will build only 1,100 Fit EVs in total for the US market, but recently decided to build an extra 200 and lease them into their home market in Japan.  The Fit EV is currently on sale in California and Oregon, but will soon expand into the northern states in 2013.


2012 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric: Another slow month for the ‘FFE” as 34 were sold.

Ford has a a rather loose style of production (if you want one, we will built it) so it is hard to get a handle on what meaning, if any, there is for monthly sales.

For July, Ford sold 38 of their all electric plug-in, with sales peaking in June at 89 units.  Ford will begin selling the C-Max Energi to its plug-in offerings this month at a price of $29,995* (details here)


2012 Mitsubishi i


Mitsubishi i-MiEV: A name change back to ‘i-Miev’ from just the ‘i’ did not help the Japanese automaker, as they sold just 37 EVs in August. 

The Mitsu continues to languish in US sales as the car really does not offer much over its Japanese rival the Nissan LEAF.   In July Mitsubishi sold 33 i-MiEVs (same number for June), with the 88 units sold in May still topping their results.


Last Updated: Wednesday, September 5th @ 12:18pm

Categories: Chevrolet, Fisker / Karma, Ford, General, Honda, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota

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21 Comments on "August 2012 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

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Great numbers on the Volt, good to see the LEAF coming back some as well. If Fisker can keep selling 250 a month of a $100,000 car that is amazing

Some comments attributed to Andy Palmer. Seems a done deal lower priced new model.

Nice find backstroke, I think the article takes the statement we have been hearing awhile and adds a bit of their own conclusion: Here is the quote from the Nissan exec from the article: “We can make 40,000 per year and they are all made in Japan. So you have a capacity constraint and – being very candid – you have a Yen constraint. So we can sell the car but we can’t put a lot of marketing dollars behind it, so we have an awareness issue as well.” Then they take it away from there themselves: “While Palmer says the expanded production won’t mean a price cut to the current model it will allow the introduction of newer, cheaper models of the car to cut the price point…But while Nissan is pushing the Leaf as a zero emissions fully-electric vehicle, the company is working on a wide range of options for the future. Among the technologies being explored by Nissan are range extended hybrids…” — I’ve talked to a lot of people at Nissan about this and it is always the same, Smyrna, Smyrna, Smyrna, and ‘we have no plans to cut the price for the current LEAF’, which… Read more »

It’ll be interesting with Smyrna.

I asked a Nissan rep at the January Philadelphia auto show about Smyrna being an impact on price – he felt building in Smyra would *not* lower the Leaf price. So I bought a Volt 🙂 Just kidding, I wouldn’t have bought a Leaf even at $5K cheaper. But given his statement about not lowering price – I suspect this may be some sort of new discount factored into what Palmer is saying.

A pre-Tax Credit Leaf at $30K would change the game a bit. Give it a “real” 100 mile range and you will see 3000 per month sales, perhaps. I doubt that happens unless then go larger than 30 kWh.

Even now Nissan are steering clear of any talk on price reduction, can’t imagine they wanted to start talk way back in January.

Its interesting that Volt owners say they could never get a LEAF as the range doesn’t cut it, yet lots of those same owners drive the car in electric only mode to a high degree. If the LEAF does get down to a MSRP where the difference in price to the Volt is $10K, thats a lot of cash to help fund a 2nd vehicle or a rental when doing long range trips.

It won’t swing everyone over to a LEAF, but going to change the dynamics for some.

Until the Leaf gets 75 miles minimum in winter, I’d have to pass. I doubt Leaf gets to be 10K less than the Volt, though. Not until they start to sell the Leaf in volume – or internally subsidize it with corporate cash such that it is a hidden sales incentive to get numbers up.

That is comparing “apples and oranges”. The ICE world rarely compares a 4cyl to a 6 cyl. The Volt is an EREV that continues on its gas generator after the electricity range is depleted. If this is not necessary to your driving habits, the Leaf, a BEV, would most likely fit your needs easier and for less money. Even within these two different categories are there major differences. The Plug-in Prius and Ford C-Max are shorter electric range and less HP than the Volt. Kinda the 4cyl/6cyl comparison. The up and coming BMW Active E will be more of a car than the Leaf and cost more . All are excellent in their class.

Regarding the LEAF, for the consumer the #1 issue will neither be the Yen nor the price in US dollars. The issue with the LEAF is the range. Until the range issues are addressed, US sales will remain relatively tiny compared to the Chevrolet Volt. Electric-only cars need around 150 miles worth of range to be competitive, and the LEAF isn’t even hitting half of that. Sorry. Version 2.0 may fix this, who knows. I don’t know about versions 1.1, 1.2, 1.3… but a true 2.0 hopefully in the next 3-4 years.

Very good to see those Leaf numbers side by side with the strong Volt numbers. Waiting on the Prius PiP to ask Mr. Cole the burning question “Did we just see the pie grow by 10%??”. Future months will tell for sure but one floating variable is the slow growing market itself.
Fun things to watch:
2013 models coming online for everyone now
Smyrna Tenn positive effect for the Leaf
Tesla finally getting the sheet metal to match
Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi entering the game
Continuing acceptance of the Volt
Year end tax credit sales

There are Production EVs you should add to your list:
BMW Active-e, Smart ForTwo-e, Coda.

Only Leaf and iMiev are purpose-built, all the other manufacturer’s EVs are their conversions of their ice model. So, please do not say because Coda is not a ‘major’ automaker, that they will not be listed. At one time, Tesla was not a major automaker (to some in the ice-media, they still aren’t).

Whether or not you have data to report, a more complete list will show not only all the players competing for the public’s purchase, but at the same time, it shows why a so-called major automaker’s EV is not selling that well (someone else has a better: EV, deal, etc.).

Hey Bruce, They really aren’t on the list for a couple reasons. Coda-would love to add them, but impossible to get numbers if not for the latest recall. So we know they sold/have in stock at least 78 since May. They really put out nothing for press at all, and no one really follows them, so extrapolating monthly data just isn’t possible. We do updates whenever we get them though: Smart ForTwo Ed– there isn’t any. The test fleet/beta run is done, and the production line has just recently started a couple months ago in Germany. Sales in that country and Canada (for some reason) have started, but the first North American delivery doesn’t happen until about April. So all zeros until then, US sales sales/deliveries are thought to be for MY 2014 in the fall of 2013. We update when there is news, and certainly will when NA deliveries begin: BMW Active e– same deal really, test fleet/beta. We don’t really consider the test fleet in prep for the i3 a public ‘production’ vehicle per sae, and AFAIK they are done building them, so again, all zeros from here on out ..we did start the education/qualified guess… Read more »

Jay, Jay, Jay. Canada IS in North America!


The ~700 ActiveE’s for the US market were all leased in the spring so that number would be zero/month from now on. The did just register 70 of them for use in BMW’s new car sharing program called Drive Now so that might show up as 70 for the month, but that’s it from now on because there aren’t any more cars.

Indeed! What Tom said, he knows what he is talking about with the BMWs, (=

Thanks Tom

Will total Erev, Bev and plug in’s for 2012 double the 2011 worldwide totals? It would be interesting to see if doubling can occur year over year. Would that doubling not get us to 1 million total by 2016?

I doubt it will double every year but a global million seems possible by 2016. Depends a lot on China and India I suppose. InsideEVs reported on one Chinese order for 20,000 EVs this year. Global fleet orders will have an impact on hitting the first million by 2016. Regardless when it happens on the timeline, we are witnessing the change.

Dam the Volt beat ALL of them combined, I wonder if we will see this on the Drudge Report LOL.

How did that ugly blue car get in the middle of all of those beautiful black ones?

Many thanks from Germany !!!
“insideevs” is very interesting for all members of the german ampera forum :
You all are invited to have a look to our forum and also to my homepage :
Best regards

I was sharing these numbers today with and individual who shared a disturbing story of a smaller Chevy dealership that pretty much refused to bring their demo Volt out for a test drive. I am sure they would have if pressed, but they basically played down the value of the EV. Would it not make sense for GM to use their Onstar data to monitor this?

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