August 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
The best month on record for selling plug-in vehicles in any country was December of 2012 in the United States, with 8,559 vehicles sold…that is, until now.
For August, just over 11,000 plug-ins were sold.
Thanks to a world-beating, record month at Chevy dealerships moving the Volt, a personal best for the Nissan LEAF, Ford Fusion Energi, smart ED – as well as Toyota crushing their year-high on the Prius PHV and RAV4 EV, not only has August set the high-water mark, but year-to-date sales of plug-ins in America have now well passed 2012, when 52,581 EVs where sold. Everything now is, as they say, gravy.
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 a year-to-date graph of all the EV auto sales by month.
(last update: Thursday, September 6th 6:45 am)
Chevrolet Volt: It’s a month of records, as sales of the Chevy Volt hit 3,351 in August.
That’s an all-time high for Volt sales in a single month, as well as being a single-month record for any plug-in vehicle sold in any country ever. The Volt will now forever hold the title of becoming the first plug-in vehicle to sell more than 3,000 units in a single month!!!!
After spinning their wheels trying to move Volts early in the year, Chevy started a discount program. First, it was a better lease and a $3,000 dealer rebate, then $4,000 – which saw sales start to pick up stream of late.
But in the end, 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) caused a virtual tidal wave of fence-sitting customers to decide on making a Volt their own in the month.
For the year, GM has now sold 14,994 Volts, which is an 11.1% increase over 2012, when they sold 13,391.
Looking ahead, if prior year’s performance is a good indicator of future results, than GM is poised to have some big numbers in their future. In 2012, backed by the announcement of more range for the 2013 model, Chevrolet Volt sales increased by 66% in the 2nd half.
We expect GM to not only beat that number, but have a really good shot at being the first plug-in to sell more than 30,000 copies in a year. (Last year GM sold 23,461 cars)
Editor’s Note: Just for the record, we had predicted a significant price drop of at least $4,000 for the 2014 MY Volt…so back-pats for us all around.
Nissan LEAF: Production at Nissan was cranking at nearly full tilt to push LEAF sales to an all-time high of 2,420 units in August, up 253.3% year over year.
That’s a remarkable achievement, but unfortunately Nissan won’t be able to drive up LEAF sales much more in the coming months.
What once was thought to be a supply issue that could be solved in a few months time has turned into something else all together.
While Nissan can produce upwards of 2,500 LEAFs in any given month in Smyrna, that is about it, as electrode supply constraints have hamstrung the manufacturer until late this year.
Thankfully, at least Nissan knows what to produce now, as early inventory was not congruent to demand as lower priced trim levels of the LEAF were in demand at a much higher rate than expect.
For July, sold 1,864 LEAFs, after a near record 2,225 were sold in June.
For August, it appears most new production arriving at dealers went straight into customer’s hands. As well, inventory dropped for the second consecutive month to around 1,800 units – of which, a more balanced 25% were entry level S trim level models.
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.
Last month we had Tesla kicking off Q2 by giving everyone a week off, then focusing almost completely on Euro Signature 85 kWh models when production came back online, before building out more US production. Hence a very low estimate for sale last month.
And while Tesla forecasted more RoW (rest of world) than US deliveries for the second half, the process getting cars into anxious European hands has not gone as easily as hoped.
The result? If you are in Germany you are probably going to wait a little longer than expected to drive a shiny new Tesla down the Autobahn. However, if you are in the US, you probably got a call to take your car a little earlier than expected because Tesla has promised their investors they will deliver 5,000 cars this quarter – and they aren’t going to be able to do that in Europe.
For August, Tesla built just over 2,000 cars (as per the CEO’s nearly weekly updates), and of those we estimate delivered about 1,300 here in the US.
(*) Model S sales estimates are given representative of North American sales, which include Canada.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: GM is setting a consistent selling tone with the electric Spark as 102 were sold in August.
Previously in July, which was the Spark EV’s first full month on the market, Chevy sold 103 units after selling 27 in very limited release in June.
The Spark EV has a 82 mile range (EPA rated) and has just recently 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 seen from Nissan with the LEAF…but that’s ok, not every EV has to have dreams to be king.
We figure that any 3-digit number probably satisfies GM’s internal projections for the car, as they seem to be shipping and selling the Spark EV in a perfect 1 to 1, 30 day inventory ratio. (28 days inventory for August if you want to be specific)
Fisker Karma: Like Tesla, Fisker does not report monthly sales.
We thought when Fisker celebrated their 1 year anniversary of having not built a single Karma we might finally get some word on the death…or sale of the company.
And while we have heard some more rumors (like a $25 million dollar offer – which would see Karma production move to the US and plans for the Atlantic scrapped), there has been no concrete developments.
Still, being the good foot soldiers we are, we continue to report on the “automaker’s” monthly results. After selling 2 cars in July, sales increased 150% in August…up to 5. Which leaves only 48 more 2012 models to leave showroom floors.
/congrats to Fisker
Fiat 500e: When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we may have another Tesla on our hands here (they don’t), or at the very least, another Ford (they make us work).
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.
Last month we estimated 200 500e’s went out to customers, thanks to a pretty serious recall on the car – half shaft breakage.
How did we get to this number for July? Well, Chrysler said all 500e EVs were ultimately affected by the problem, and that about 270 customers had taken delivery of the car (first deliveries happened July 15th).
For August, our job estimating sales is almost as easy, as dealers tightly held on to recalled cars and didn’t sell any new inventory after August 9th until the very last days of the month as they received the necessary parts and felt confident enough to release new inventory again. In total we estimate 160 cars were sold in August.
Whatever the exact monthly number is, we do know we will be getting to the exact right number for 2013 sales, as a revised Defect Information Report to the NHSTA states that 491 electric Fiats were made between the start of production on December 16th, 2012 and August 13th, 2013…and that car is not expected to return to production until sometime in 2014 at the earliest.
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.
If any car threatens the success of the Chevrolet Spark EV from GM, it is the Fiat 500e.
Honda Fit EV: In a case of “we can sell everything we got,” Honda managed to sell 66 Fit EVs in August.
The story continues to be: Inventory, where is the inventory?
Well its not coming, not ever. What we get is what Honda sends us…slowly, and when its gone, it’s gone. Honda ended August with about 8 left in inventory. Total.
Honda has found the holy grail when it comes to selling a limited number of compliance vehicles. Lease them out for a loss…and give customer unlimited mileage on those leases. (all the details here)
The “deal” wiped out 75% of inventory in mere days in June, as 208 were sold, then another 63 Fit EVs were sold in July…making the car a a near-sellout in California
With inventory levels depleted after last month’s results, Honda still managed to sell 63 Fit EVs.
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), Honda can now focus on the 2017 deadline – and if they just want to comply…or get serious about selling EVs.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: Like just about everyone smart had its best result of 2013 in August; unlike everyone else – theirs was about 300% better than their previous best.
In August a massive (for smart) 182 Electric Drives were sold.
Considering the entire brand only sold 993 copies, that is 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 werecertainly 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)
In July, 58 smart EDs (Electric Drives) were sold, binging the total amount sold in the first 2.5 months up to 173.
The first smart ED in the US was sold on May 15th, and was delivered in California. And despite only a few selling days in that first month, smart sold 60 copies, followed by 52 in June. “Bang on” to the company’s sales forecasts.
Earlier, we spoke to Mark Webster (who runs things at smart USA) said he expected the smart to stay around the 60 units per month sold until it goes nation-wide in October – guess he messed up a little (but in a good way) for August. Mark also confirmed there will be a “next generation” of smart EDs when the entire platform gets a upgrade next year.
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: The theme for August is “new records” and Ford joined in that parade with one of their offerings – as the Fusion PHEV sold 600 copies even for the month.
Previously in July, 407 Fusion Energis where sold which was just 9 shy of the former all-time high set in May.
Inventory on Ford’s mid-size EV crested 3,000 units for the first time in its history in July, and got as high as 3,500 in August before thinning out a little.
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, which we still feel is a bit steep.
Apparently, Ford thinks so do, as some firm rebates have been installed, and reports of cap cost reductions as high as $10,500 (including the federal rebate) on leases have been advertised by dealers on the Fusion plug-in.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: Toyota surprise everyone in August, and sold a massive 1,791 PHVs.
While most of the other plug-in players had a summertime stall, Toyota was already improving in July with a 40% increase over the month before (817 vs- 584 units).
August’s number is Toyota’s second best ever, and bested a year ago’s result by 65% when they sold 1,047 cars.
Last month we though 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 almost 2,000 sold in August, anything is now possible as Toyota has now sold 6,822 plug-in Prii in 2013, that is up 11.2%
Relatively speaking, up until August sales have been low for the Prius Plug-In with Toyota after its initial launch, and with no significant issues or inventory shortages, the other plug-in players seemed like they were eroding the electric Toyota’s base. We will see if September can make the sales uptick a trend and not just a one-off anomaly.
Last year Toyota sold 12,750 plug-in Prii in the 10 months it was available. Toyota needs to average about 1,200 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 – we hope they avoid it.
Ford C-Max Energi: August sales were no where close to a record high, but Ford did set a 2013 peak with 621 C-Max plug-in sold.
Last month, after having issued a recall/stop order on some C-Max vehicles (without a Panorama roof installed), Ford only managed to sell 433 plug-in C-Max vehicles in July.
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.
Last month, we said “…we would not be surprised to see some heavier pricing incentives to be offer in the second half of the year, and/or a lower MSRP being offered on the 2014 late this year,” and the first part of that has come true, as Ford offered an additional $1,500 off the car in August.
Now all that is left is to do something about the MSRP…the only problem for Ford (and EV fanatics) is that the C-Max hybrid is selling so well, and Ford is likely hesitant to bring to close the gap between it and the plug-in version.
Ford Focus Electric: The Focus EV is the ‘oak tree’ of plug-in sales reporting, sure and steady…you could almost set your watch to it. For August, another 175 all-electric Fords were sold.
The only really change in the numbers 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 that sales rut of 100ish a 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 from to close out the year.
Toyota RAV4 EV: Like its sister Prius, the RAV4 EV set a new high for 2013, in fact an all-time high as 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.
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 September? 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 reporting event, Mitsu sold 30 i-MiEVs in August.
What we can tell you is that new model year i-MiEV are coming! We just have no idea when…and until then, there are only about 65 new copies of the little kei car available for sale in the US.
Previosuly, 46 i-MiEVs were sold in July, which is less than a handful of units over what Mitsubishi managed to sell in June.
Again – this 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).“
Still, with no timeline on the next i-MiEV, we think it is a fair assumption to say that the next Mitsubishi plug-in to arrive in the US will liklely be the extended range Outlander PHEV, which we learned has shifted from an expected arrival date of January of 2014 to “during calendar year 2014” – which sounds a lot less close than it did last month.
Why that change in Outlander PHEV deliveries for the US? Because a battery assembly flaw stopped production for 5 months – we look for the Outlander PHEV to shop up in the US no sooner than June.
Honda Accord Plug-In: The Accord electric is the anti-Fit EV, they just can’t sell these things – for August 44 were moved off Honda lots.
Each month we ask ourselves the same questions: Does Honda want to sell these? Why do they bring them to the US at all? A $40,000 mid-size Honda sedan is just not something Americans want…and they no 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 enough (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.
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), and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – a 25(ish) mile extended range SUV that was originally expected in January, but now is expected in the Spring of 2014.