Despite Winter Blues, EV Sales Rise In January 2014

FEB 7 2014 BY JAY COLE 52

Surprise Of January Results?  Definitely The 6-Figured Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid With 141 Cars Sold In January

Surprise Of January Results? Definitely The 6-Figured Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid With 141 Cars Sold In January

When looking at electric vehicle sales in America from one month to the next, the tendency is to overreact to plummeting numers as the calendar flips from one year to the next.The two main reasons for this is:

  • The tax implications of the federal $7,500 credit deadline for 2013 tax returns causing extra demand in December, and a hangover in January for the opposite reason
  • It’s January.   As in, the height of winter; translating to shrinking ranges, and in turn – sheepish sales people to sell them

However, putting the numbers into context you find that 2014 sales at an estimated 5,450 units, which was almost a 1,000 better than a year prior, good for a 19.1% increase of 2013.  Not too shabby.

CLICK TO ENLARGE – 2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla US Sales Numbers (Precise quarterly results updated during Tesla's Q1 report due mid-May) *Fiat 500e estimated based on available data.

CLICK TO ENLARGE – 2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla US Sales Numbers (Precise quarterly results updated during Tesla’s Q1 report due mid-May) *Fiat 500e estimated based on available data.

Once again this month we saw the ratio of BEV to PHEV almost even, as well as the 5 major builders of electric vehicles draw closer to each other in overall sales, with Ford surprisingly climbing into the #2 spot with 3 plug-in offerings for customers to choose from.  Further statistical breakdowns can be found below.

All Electric/ Plug-In Hybrid splits:

  • PHEV – 2,954  (54%)
  • BEV – 2,516  (46%)


Sales By Automaker:

Thanks To Offering 3 Plug-In Offerings, Ford Is Now A Serious Competitor In The Race For First

Thanks To Offering 3 Plug-In Offerings, Ford Is Now A Serious Competitor In The Race For First

  1. Nissan – 1,252
  2. Ford – 1,104
  3. Chevrolet –  1,052
  4. Toyota – 866
  5. Tesla – 800*
  6. Everyone else – 376


New 12-Month Highs Set In January:

  • Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid: +94 units (141 vs 47 in December 2013)
  • Cadillac ELR: +35 units (41 vs 6 in December 2013)


New 12- Month Lows Set In January:

  • Chevrolet Volt: 222 units (918 vs 1,140 in Jan 2013)
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 10 units (1 vs 11 in December 2013)

Categories: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota


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52 Comments on "Despite Winter Blues, EV Sales Rise In January 2014"

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It’s still hard to believe Ford as being the #2 plug-in seller, since they don’t have any 1 particular plug-in car that sells a lot of volume. But it is true, when you combine all 3 of their offerings together. And being the two energi models share most of the same drivetrain components, the costs are probably spread nicely between the two cars.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see Ford take the #1 spot soon thanks to the drop in price of the Focus Electric and the Fusion Energi, especially if the rumored Focus Energi comes to market soon. That would give them 4 plug-in models to sell. That must really irritate Nissan being that I’m sure Nissan has invested a lot more in the Leaf and has taken a much bigger risk.

Honestly, the concept of the inexpensive Focus Energi is the perfect weapon for today’s market… and really the original vision of the Volt that we were given back in the days when I was writing at GM-Volt (years and years ago, lol) While the Focus Energi would likely only have 23-26 miles of EPA range, it’s the promise of an PHEV with a decent all-electric range and starting “comfortably under $30,000” that the market anticipated, and likely still wants – that is at least until we get those 150-200 miles fully electric cars at $35,000 or less. A Focus Energi at $27,499, promoted and stocked by the company, puts Ford at number 1 for a very long time I think. That being said, those criteria are still a long way from reality. And any company that makes a vehicle like this would do so knowing they will be bastardizing a chunk of their existing lineup. We have yet to see any major OEM willing to do this – the closest thing to that decision is honestly the new pricing structure on the Prius PHEV in the 2nd half of last year, and they now sell about as many as they… Read more »
Actually with Ford offering a Focus Energi, capitalizing on their globally #1 selling Focus Hatch vehicle body(top hat), rather than trying to convince consumers to accept the very low volume C-MAX Wagon body, would be a big plus for Ford globally. The C-MAX Energi Wagon and shorter Focus Energi Hatch would coexist as well as a Prius v Wagon Hybrid and Prius Hatch Hybrid. They are still different models targeting different demographics, just sharing the same drivetrain. The advantage that Ford has is the consumer does not have to ‘settle’ for just one body style to get the drivetrain they really want. With the Fusion, C-MAX and upcoming Focus and Edge Energi(due 3rd Qtr 2014), Taurus Energi(due 3rd Qtr 2015),consumers will have the ‘choice’ of sedan, wagon, hatch or SUV to get the plug-in they want. And it is in the sharing of platforms and 4 different drivetrains(ICE/Hybrid/Energi/Electric) and top hats, that makes it financially viable to offer so many different vehicle options. Which is why VW/Audi is scrambling to launch as many different hybrid/plug-in/EV models as they can, along with Nissan and Renault. But right now, Ford has the clear advantage and plan to extend it.

I haven’t heard of the Edge or Taurus getting the Energi treatment… Where are you getting this information? I’d like to hear more about it. I admit I’m confused though.. They used to make an Escape hybrid. That would seem a logical choice for an Energi model (since they already had a hybrid) any idea why that is off the table?

Taurus and Edge are moving to the same exact platform as the Fusion. Fusion platform is already mated with ICE, Hybrid, Energi drivetrains. The Taurus, Edge and Fusion bodies are basically ‘top hats’ that fit onto of a platform.

The Ford plan is to offer ICE/Hybrid/Energi on as many shared platforms as possible, to reach the larger based of consumers looking for an electrified vehicle.

Escape hybrid requires AWD, which is not available yet, and is expected to be available before 2020. This is the hybrid drivetrain Ford and Toyota stated working together on, and Ford ended the deal last year, hired their own engineers and started building their own RWD/AWD hybrid drivetrain.

The next gen Escape is due 3rd qtr 2017 would ‘could’ finally offer hybrid. With hybrid can come Energi.

One more thing…..remember, the larger Fusion Energi gets the same 21 EV miles as the smaller C-MAX Energi Wagon which actually weight about the same.

So a Focus at 25 EV miles using the same battery pack, would offer the shame 25EV miles for the Fusion and C-MAX Energi, along with an upcoming more aluminum based lighter weight Taurus(the current model weighs a ton) and Edge. Ford is focused on reducing vehicle weight by 250 to 700 lbs as new gen models are released. It will be interesting to see just how much aluminum make it to the Edge in a few months.

I’m now 95% certain that you work for Ford…

Maybe I don’t precisely understand what a vehicle “platform” is…how can the Taurus and Edge move to the Focus-sized platform without actually becoming a Focus and an Escape, respectively?

I was annoyed that Ford dropped the hybrid Escape. I have a 2010 Mariner hybrid, though I did not opt for the AWD – it hit the mileage harder than I could justify the need for AWD. FWD does really well for all the worse the winter weather typically gets in the DC region, even this year (which has been worse than average).

The other great thing about the hybrid Escape was that it was the only hybrid Ford offered that did not compromise storage space! The hybrid Escape only lost that wide, flat (2″ or 3″ high) space under the hatch (no loss there). The exterior is not at all drag-friendly, but it is still impressive to have a mid-sized SUV average 35mpg over the life of the vehicle to date (36k miles in 4 years).

Here is a Ford Platforms 101 thread that might clear things up a bit.

Nissan need to offer a PHEV in my view, and I believe in Nissan’s view too.

Well, this hasn’t been their view yet.

Fact is, since the introduction of 2013 Leaf, the Leaf has been the best-selling plug-in model in the US for 9 of the past 11 months, and most of this time it has been production- rather than demand-constrained.

It is hard to beat an affordable BEV’s price+”wow factor” combination (the “wow” experienced when driving something that never requires gas), and Nissan is already doing very well on this combination.

IMHO a far smarter move for Nissan will be to introduce some version of the eNV-200 in minivan (even smallish minivan) format.

*And* move quickly as possible to BEVs that easily get a 3-digit EPA ratings. That will do far more for their sales, than reverting on their policy and trying to play catch-up on the PHEV market.

Finally, right now all plug-in cars are in a sense, a single team that competes against all ICE cars. Each maker needs to concentrate on what they do best, and the rising tide will lift all boats that do it well enough.

I meant of course, 3-digit EPA ranges. It’s a huge psychological barrier IMHO.

Agreed, particularly when you consider battery degradation…a 60kWh Model S that comes off of a 3-year lease will have essentially all of those 208 EPA rated miles available.

When you start with a new vehicle with the bare-minimum range, the age of the vehicle becomes a major concern within a very short time, particularly with Nissan’s technology that lacks active liquid temp control of the battery pack.

Basically the same point that was made on the resale value of EVs – Model S lose little, and in fact are selling above MSRP due to scarcity, while the Leaf and others completely tank on the used market.

The batteries in a PHEV are very different to those in a BEV, and designed to cope with much more cycling.

Because Nissan chose not to use active cooling for their BEV does not mean that that is what they would do in a PHEV.

‘The all-new Nissan Qashqai will feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain that could achieve emissions as low as 40g/km, says executive vice-president Andy Palmer.’


‘The new Nissan Qashqai will go on sale in the UK in early 2014, with the plug-in hybrid model following in 2015. ‘

I hadn’t realised that they had confirmed PHEV production, I just remembered something about their considering it.

The Qashqai is the Rogue in the US.
No news of when or if a PHEV Rogue would hit the States.

I’ve checked it out on the UK sites and there is a space under the normal floor of the boot on the conventional model.
It looks to me as though Nissan have purpose designed this for the PHEV batteries, so there is unlikely to be much intrusion into the normal load space or accomodation.

Wow, thanks for the link!

On a 2nd thought, the SUV segment is one place where it’s smart for Nissan to go PHEV. And that’s what they’re doing!

Not surprising, since among all major automakers so far Nissan have been the smartest kids in the plug-in room.

Definitely not the rogue. It looks quite a bit different. According to Wikipedia it is sold in the Dualis in Japan and Australia.

They’d probably call it a CUV in the US as it is too small for a US SUV.
Here in the UK we buy almost all manual and the auto is appalling, but perhaps the Rogue has a different box in the US.
It needs it.

It doesn’t.
The same CVT.
Oh well.
I’ve no idea how that will mate with a PHEV setup.

I agree that Nissan needs to move quickly to a triple-digit EPA range for the Leaf. I agree that it is a psychological barrier, but the longer range really would be the deal-maker for a lot of people that just can’t get by on the current range. Also keeping in mind how pitiful the charging infrastructure is in most of the country.

However, I’m convinced if they took something like the Rouge and turned it into a 30 or 40 mile PHEV, it would probably sell more units than the Leaf, at least here in the USA.

…sounds like that’s exactly what they’re doing… (see links from DaveMart above).

It seems that in the SUV and possibly also minivan segments, for the coming half-decade it will be mostly PHEVs (except for that winged Tesla, if it counts :).

So ok, I partially retract. For PHEVs it would be smart of Nissan to join the PHEV fest, and seems like they are.

For passenger vehicles they really don’t need to. Just increase range and other aspects. And yes, having a 2012 Leaf as our near-exclusive family vehicle, I am painfully aware of how a 120-150 mile Leaf would be that much better than a 101 mile one.

But 3-digit is the barrier to break for deeper market penetration. And likely once they go through the trouble, this time around they will make sure their extended-range version clears 3-digits with some room to spare.

I agree with these ideas for new EV’s another Nissan car that could be made into a low cost EV would be the Nissan Juke in that it’s not very big so it would make a good EV.

With Fords new target of 1,000 Fusion Energi and 1,000 C-Max Energi models, along with expected sales boost from the $6,000 price drop of the Focus Electric, monthly sales should be consistent over 2,000 units throughout 2014. And take the #1 plug-in sales title for 2014.

But Energi model sales should really get a boost when ‘hopefully’ the 2015 Fusion Energi gets a 4 EV mile boost to 25 miles to match the ‘expected’ new Focus Energi. Along with the Focus Electric with 4 times the battery pack size getting a boost to 85 to 86 EV miles.

(2015 C-MAX Energi does not launch until December)

Can you please elaborate on this? I haven’t heard anything about the Fusion getting more range. I was under the impression the Focus would simply have more range (25 vs. 21 on the C-Max) due to better aerodynamics. I also haven’t heard anything about the focus electric getting a boost to 86 miles (In fact, I thought its EPA rating was more like 75 miles) And what is the significance of the 2015 C-Max Energi? Is it expected to have any changes?

The Focus Energi would get more range do to software changes that allow more available range while still maintaining longevity. The aerodynamics of the C-Max and Focus hatch are minimal, and the weight is about the same. It’s easy to look up the EPA rating of the Focus Electric to see it’s 76. But the pack is a 100 mile pack, with 19% held back for safety/longevity. But Ford always stated their goal is to get better with battery management and to over time, extend the range of the pack, and improving the experience for the consumer. Competition is coming that is ‘allowing’ more battery use and range, and like with the F-150, Ford plays the one-upmanship game well. 2015 C-MAX Energi will share the same pack as the Focus and Fusion Energi so the output will be the same. But 2015 C-MAX production is pushed back to December, but since what we are talking about is a software update, it may happen at the dealer over a period of time. Which means that all current Energi models already in consumer hands, would get the EV range extending update. So it would not matter if it was purchased as a… Read more »
If Ford really wants to get ahead, they should have been developing what VIA has done (well, GM should have been since they came up with the Volt to begin with). Of course, there are the exaggerated fears that traditional truck customers wouldn’t want an electric drivetrain – but then, they didn’t want a turbocharged V6, either, and with very good performance and extensive advertising, the EcoBoost V6 became one of the top selling models for the F-150. Ford makes pretty good products overall, but they are continually too timid…they have the market share and the reputation to push the limits. A pickup with the max torque off the line, no transmission (which are the first to go), no clutch, the engine load is much more even and predictable – I mean, it’s genious…the thing would last forever and outperform existing models! I am glad to hear that there will be more Energi products. They make a lot of sense for the mid-sized and larger vehicles particularly. Per kWh per mile, they should save more gas than the small vehicles, I would think. 35 miles of electric range on a Focus is barely a gallon. 35 miles of electric range… Read more »

The EV getting a boost to 86 miles would be a waste of time in that Nissan is already talking about raising the Leaf’s range to 150 miles by 2015 or 2016 so 86 would be to little to late. What they should at least be doing is talking about raising their car to a 170 miles range without warning to knock off Nissan.

Also, it would be a HUGE efficiency advantage if Ford put electric heaters in their hybrids. My 2010 Mariner hybrid loses about 6 or 7 mpg in the winter months because the engine just keeps idling and idling to warm up the car.

It was brilliant when they move the A/C from being driven by the engine to an electric motor! That way, you still had A/C but the engine could shut down when not needed for propulsion.

Now, if they moved heat to an electric heater, that would help more.

The Energi models do have an electric heater that is used when the engine isn’t running.

Great straight on report! Lots of profound data. I wonder if Smart ED can carve out position #6?

“It’s January. As in, the height of winter; translating to shrinking ranges, and in turn – sheepish sales people to sell them”
EV sales in January are like a frightened turtle.

Ford are doing a lot better than I thought they would.
I had imagined that the severely restricted load space due to the batteries would kill sales.

I have had a look at them now.
I had been ignoring them as I dislike kludges, but apparently some don’t mind so much.
I can’t say that I am enthusiastic now I have had a look.

The VWs in contrast don’t compromise load space.

It really isn’t that bad on the C-Max. I agree the Fusion is pretty bad, though. I think it all has to do with the arrangement and the fact that the C-Max is a hatchback. It looks terrible at first glance, but when you start to think about it, think about what you can actually put in there, it isn’t so bad. I test drove a C-Max Energi and my wife and I spent some time looking at the cargo area and talking about it. We kept trying to think of anything that we normally would carry that wouldn’t fit. I carry my bicycle around a lot and even it would fit just fine. Groceries would be no issue, nor a trip to Costco. So yeah, it just looks worse than it really is.

Now, like I said, the Fusion may be a different story. The main reason being it is a traditional trunk and not a hatchback.

I suppose it is mainly that it would irritate me every time I looked at that great hump in the back.
Resale values when properly designed PHEVs are more freely available might take a hit too, but for me it is really the fact that it is a blatant kludge which would destroy my pleasure in it.

Yeah, Ford and Toyota really screwed up when they turned their sedans into hybrids and didn’t place the battery pack more intelligently. As much as I liked the Fusion hybrid, I went with the Mariner hybrid (Escape) because the trunk space in the Fusion hybrid was a joke.

Yup, speaking as a C-max owner, the storage space has worked out okay. But we ruled out the Fusion early due to its tiny trunk.

I’m really surprised to see the Fusion outselling the C-Max. I suppose it’s because the C-max looks weird.


Ford was #1 in plug-in vehicle sales in Oct of 2013(2,294), and #2 in Nov 2013(1,942).

I take it as a good sign that 5 different OEMs lead at least one month in 2013. It would be scary for the health of the overall segment if it was just one player doing all the heavy lifting.


I like the idea that Ford, without too much advertising bells and whistles, seem to have been doing much better groundwork getting its dealership to push out more and more PHEVs.

It is a good sign when the most steady and well-run member of the Big Three, recognizes plug-ins as a very viable and promising segment, and is becoming a major player in it using a variety of strategies.

It is a funny thing – because most plugins are leased which should make it negate any impact the tax credit thing will have.

I just think the sellers & OEMs just take it cool in Jan – with low inventory etc. which contributes to low sales.

For sure agree that inventories, OEM commitment, holiday shutdowns,etc. and all that play a roll for sure in winter sales. I don’t imagine it is near the biggest factor in the cliff drop though.

While overall its more than 3 to 1 of leases to sales (at last report; ex-Tesla) for plug-ins over the course of a year, that number is not linear on a monthly basis for sure. We are quite likely looking at extreme ends of the spectrum butting up against each other in December and January.

With zero data to back up this point, I would say it is something like 6 to 1 in January in favor of leases, 3 to 1 by late summer, and something like 1 to 1 in December. For sure the Q1 split is way off from Q4.

We can always get some data from an MNL poll !

BTW, the 2014 Leaf is running 25% buy vs 75% leased there in an ongoing poll.

I’ll put up a poll for just Dec & Jan.

Hehe, that sounds pretty spot on.

…good idea on the poll, (=

That could be true. Most consumers don’t understand that when they lease, the company takes the credit, but it’s ‘normally’ offered back to the consumer as cash back in some sort to bring the cost of the vehicle lease.

But automakers can’t advertise what may seem like tax information, so they just don’t say anything.

Yeah, it’s up to the consumer to push the issue.

Is it illegal for them to mention the tax credit?

Could you please add a line chart to this monlthy round-up showing how the total plug-in sales change each month with a 2 to 3 year period on the horizontal axis? This would highlight the longer term trends and hopefully calm down those readers that seem to panic whenever this month’s total does not exceed last month’s.

…its Friday, I don’t like to work too hard. Sounds like a good idea though,(=

You can still check the monthly sales chart leaderboard to get all the past month results here.

Ford is doing okay with its energi models b/c it is discounting it like crazy. In SF Bay Area, you can find a C-Max Energi with $5K to $8K off the invoice.

One of my coworker traded his Prius Plugin in for a C-Max Energi 2 years into his lease with money back and lower monthly payment on the new lease. It is crazy…. The dealer had to clear its inventory at the end of the month and sold all 4 Energi it had on the lot within 2 hours with that discount. The only reason my co-worker got it was b/c he has a friend working at the dealer and he drove there as fast as he could to the dealer after knowing that…. He got the 3rd one…

Please add sales by region in the U.S. for you next monthly update.