BEV Surge You Might Have Missed (UPDATE)

MAR 4 2013 BY MARK HOVIS 10

In the US EV market, 2012 certainly was the year of the Chevy Volt with 23,461 sold. More generally, it was the year of the PHEV with the number two best seller being the Toyota PiP with 12,729.  The leading BEV, Nissan Leaf, failed to break 10,000. Ford had introduced their BEV Focus with sluggish sales throughout the year, yet Ford’s PHEV C-Max energi doubled their entire year’s BEV efforts with 2374 in the Q4 introduction. Throughout most of the year the PHEV outsold pure electric BEVs by 3-to-1 and 4-to-1 margins from March forward. This would appear to be the obvious trend for years to come, or would it? Several events are changing the numbers.

  • First and foremost, Tesla has been successful at adding roughly 1,500 Luxury BEVs per month thus growing a new layer to the pie (graph if you will).
  • Secondly, Nissan has made the first price cut move by redesigning their Leaf and lowering entry level prices by $6000. This makes the base level $28,800 Leaf available for $21,300 after tax incentives.
  • A third and often overlooked impact was the outright price drop and attractive leasing under $99 per month like the $69 per month lease offerings by the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. 

So the first two months brought BEV sales within 10% of PHEV sales and March soared BEV sales into the lead! Now the burning question remains, do new entries grow the pie or do they cut into existing markets? Under normal circumstances it would be the latter, but this is an emerging market and the known rules do not apply. It still is too early to determine distribution percentages, but here are some interesting facts. January 2013 saw more EV sales than the first seven (individual months) of 2012. February bested January by nearly 15% (mostly Chevy Volts).  March has bested the best EV sales to date. It is almost certain that the luxury Tesla Model S has carved out a totally new market that should add 15,000-20,000 BEVs to 2013 totals.

Will PHEV’s surge back? Now April may bring more PHEVs with the introduction of the Ford Fusion energi. Toyota has made huge price cuts with the Rav 4. Honda has launched their PHEV version of their ever popular Honda Accord which is slowly making its way to dealerships. And of course, expect increases from the Ford C-Max, Toyota PiP, and the top selling Chevy Volt. Look for the monthly trends here at InsideEVs  as we report the answers to these questions!

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10 Comments on "BEV Surge You Might Have Missed (UPDATE)"

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Its going to be an interesting year. We also “thinned the herd” a bit since Coda is pretty much out of the game. Although the i-Miev is now actually selling vehicles again, I would hate to think those are at the expensive of a real EV like the Leaf… Those i-Mievs are so ugly it is almost an embarrassment to see one at a charging station. People will see that and think “that is what I would have to drive to own an EV, no thanks.”

My i-MiEV is every bit a “real EV” like a Leaf, so your negative subjective assessment as to the physical appearance of an i-MiEV has nothing to do with its being a real EV. I bought an i-MiEV instead of a Leaf because I don’t need or want a car as large as a Leaf plus I value the i-MiEV’s considerably greater cargo space with the rear seats down. With rear wheel drive, my i-MiEV is much more maneuverable than a Leaf, is much easier to park in tight parking spaces, and weighs much less so its brakes, tires, etc. can be smaller and less expensive.

Anyone who is embarrassed to see an i-MiEV at a charging station and, based on their negative subjective assessment of its appearance, would discount purchasing an EV is certainly a very shallow thinker.

Anybody who disses the iMiev as being ugly and then praises the LEAF is guilty of having bad taste.

Personally I think the iMiEV is fine if you want a low cost rudimentary EV for around town. I once drove one on a freeway and on a winding mountain road. I do not recommend it. My knuckles are still white. High speed stability and handling are not its strong points. Around town however it was quite pleasant.

Tuned in late. Nice article Mark.

Tesla provided the spike in EV sales, but it’s in a class of it’s own. At 300EV miles, for most consumers, it brings the EV into the realm of ‘regular’ car, as opposed to a limited use vehicle like the Leaf, Focus EV, MiEV that offer less than 100 EV mile range. But it is a $50k+ ‘niche’ luxury vehicle that many just can’t afford. I don’t think the Leaf will see a spike in sales based on the lower price S model. Simply because once you add the 6.6 charger, the SV model is a better option, which has the same lease price as the more premium Focus EV. I see Nissan struggling to hold on to last years sales numbers, as Ford finally starts nationwide marketing of the Focus EV. Their target of 400+ per month sales(2-5% of all hybrid/plug-in sales) has to come from somewhere, and it’s clear Ford will target the Leaf, as they did the Prius v with success. However, PHEVs will continue to dominate until 200-300 mile EV are at the same price point as the PHEV. The drop in sales for the 6EV mile Prius plug-in is no mystery. It was simply the… Read more »