January 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

5 years ago by Jay Cole 26

A new year wipes the sales slate clean, and adds some new faces to the charts in the form of the Ford Fusion Energi and the Honda Accord PHEV.

However, the first month of 2013 should have a large (*) asterisk beside it, as multiple supply issues seem to be plaguing  just about all the major players not named Ford or Toyota.

NOTE:  This scorecard is published as soon as the first auto maker reports, and is populated/updated  throughout the day as soon as more data is available

(last update Tuesday, Feb 5  @ 11:43 pm)

2013 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt:  January 2013 was GM’s worst result in a year, as the company only sold 1,140

Affecting January’s dismal result was a extended shutdown in December over the holidays (Dec 13th to Jan 2nd), which seriously affected inventory levels entering this month.  Illustrating the problem, in December GM sold 2,633 Chevy Volts, but only replenished 1,509. 

Next month’s result will likely return more to the norm (2,000+), as GM ramped up their Hamtramck facility production and churned out almost 3,000 units (2,949) to replace inventories for February.   Sales PDF can be found here, production report here.


2012 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF: In January , Nissan sold 650 LEAFs, which was down 3.8 percent compared to January 2012.

For the first time in awhile, Nissan’s monthly result does not reflect customer demand, as the company only had about 900 2012s LEAFs in inventory after moving 1,489 LEAFs in December.

A Nissan exec explained it this way to us, “The current model ’12 Nissan LEAF is approaching a sold-out scenario as we prepare to introduce the upgraded 2013 model, which will go on sale in February.”  (read full article here)

Don’t expect February to be significantly better, as the first 2013 LEAFs start to trickle out next week, with Nissan telling us that it will likely take well into March to fill the supply chain.



2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S:  Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales…but they do give a lot of updates, and consumers fanatically track their progress, so we can make a pretty accurate guess.

In an effort to make reduced projections for 2012 sales (2,700-3,335), Tesla sent emails to almost all customers expecting product in January and even February, asking them to  “move up” their paperwork to before year’s end to perhaps get their cars early…even if the cars didn’t arrive in December of 2012.

Effectively this moved sales from January of 2013 into December of 2012.   With Tesla confirming recently that production is now in full swing at 400/units per week, that leaves a maximum of about 1,600 cars that could be sold per month on an ongoing basis.  We estimate maybe as many as 400 sales were pushing into 2012, leaving about 1,200 to be sold in January


Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma: Like Tesla, Fisker does not report monthly sales.

However, that doesn’t really matter anymore, since the company hasn’t built  anything since  July, and it now being run by the Huron Consulting Group out of Chicago because they can’t control their own finances.

After selling a little more than 2,000 Karmas to date, and losing 338 to Superstorm Sandy, Fisker was left with about 300 extended range luxury sedans to sell off worldwide. For the US, inventory dropped from around 140 to 120, and seeing how as they don’t build them anymore, we can use our amazing deductive powers to say that Fisker sold about 20 Karmas this month.


2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In: Despite being one of only 2 plug-in auto makers not feeling a supply issue of some kind, Toyota sold a less than expected 874 Prius plug-ins in January.

In the previous month of  December, Toyota had a relatively strong month, selling 1,361 PIPS.

The Prius plug-in finished 2012 as the second best seller in the segment, with 12,750 units sold.





2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi:In January, Ford sold only 338 units of its plug-in C-Max Energi, as the entire C-Max brand of cars struggled in January.

In December, Ford sold 971 units, down from 1,259 in November, but demand was not the issue either, this month or last, as Ford focus on getting the Fusion Energi to market this month.

Ford entered January with less than 175 on dealership lots.




2013 Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV: The first month of the year was probably Honda would like to forget, as it was their worst full month of sales ever, as only 8 Fit EVs were sold

The prior month of December was also pretty lackluster as 19 plug-ins were moved.  The all-time high water mark for sales in a month was 26 in November.

Looking ahead, the addition of the Accord PHEV to the Honda lineup, which went on sale on January 15th, may lend some credibility to the FIT EV program (and some new eyeballs) for February.

However,  without a major reduction in the lease price ($389), it is going to be even harder to compete against the likes of the 2013 Nissan LEAF, which now starts at $199/month with $1,999 due at signing.



2013 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric:Down too are sales of the Focus Electric.  In January, Ford sold just 81 of the electric version of the popular Focus.

For December, the addition of the C-Max Energi (and a legion of new dealerships with the ability to sell plug-ins) over the past 2.5 months has certainly helped the Focus Electric, at least initially, as sales have gone from 30-50 per month in late summer, to close to 200 a month in the winter until this month.  In December, Ford sold 167 units.



Continuing to Ruin our “All Black” Motif Of EVs, the All-new 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV:  Unlike with the Prius plug-in, Toyota has a bit of a problem getting people to buy its Tesla-sourced electric conversion of the RAV4.

For January 25 all-electric SUVs were sold.

Late in 2012, Toyota slashed the MSRP on the RAV4 EV by as much as $7,500 to spur sales, however the program was not that big of a success as Toyota ended up still only selling 52 RAV4 EVs in December before trailing off even further this month.




2012 Mitsubishi i

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Amazingly, in January 257  i-MiEVs were sold (their best result ever) thanks mostly to some heavy discounting (as low as a $69/month lease) .

Mitsubishi’s best result last year was only 85 (which was sold in May of 2012), so this was a very significant month for the little Japanese EV.




The Newcomers For  January 2013:

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi: Despite some inventory of the Fusion Energi registering at dealerships currently, Erich Merkle, head U.S. sales analyst at Ford Motor Company, replied to our inquiry about the Fusion Energi sales for January with a confirmation that none were sold during the month:

“Sorry,  but I don’t have any Fusion Energi’s to report for January. I will put them in the report when we begin selling them.”

As the Fusion Energi starts trickling into dealerships this month, it 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 estimated at about 20 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 feel is a bit steep.


2014 (yes, 2014) Honda Accord Plug-In (via automedia)

Honda Accord Plug-In:  Even though Honda said their plug-in, extended range EV went on sale in January 15th, there really wasn’t any inventory, and only two were sold.

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 expectation for the car.

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.


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26 responses to "January 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

  1. taser54 says:

    Inquiring minds want to know: why are other car makers slower to report their monthly sales?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      They are spiteful and they want to make my job unnecessarily difficult?

      I really don’t know. Its really only Ford that messes everything up (although Toyota is sometimes difficult to get in a timely manner as well). Auto sales are ‘supposed’ to all come out at 1pm, but GM has been jumping the gun the past couple years.

      We figure people what to know as it happens, rather than getting a recap next Monday, so we publish out the scorecard as soon as the the first numbers trickle in.

      1. taser54 says:

        Thanks for the clarification.

    2. Carnut71 says:

      Because some companies are based in California, where’s it’s not even 8 am yet

      1. James says:

        zzzzz zzzzzzz ….what?….huh?……oh yeah…..sorry, just woke up,

        yes, this is very true indeed

  2. James says:

    Personally, it’s funny how all auto outlets have to post data as
    if it’s a race to publish sales numbers before the other guys.
    Everybody does it – it’s like humanity sits there lying awake at
    night wondering what the sales numbers were…..Well, we know
    marketing strategists, bean counters and dealership owners do….
    but as for the rest of us – we can wait a day, two, five….to see
    sales numbers. Sales numbers are vital to feel the pulse of the
    industry, of course, they show us if cars with plugs are selling,
    but seriously, we all should know that Volt sales are going to dip
    this year as there is no new news re: Volt – people could care less
    if it gets 3 more miles on a charge than last year, and it looks the
    same – costs the same…etc.

    Ford will surely pass GM in car sales with a plug and we all also
    know that fact has zero to do with Focus EV. You’ll see the highest
    numbers for C-Max hybrid, and numbers of C-Max Energi that
    surpass Volt by far. Why? IT’S THE PRICE , DUMMY! Volt just
    costs too much for a four seat car and the public cannot wrap their
    heads around it’s capabilities. They’ll pay less for the C-Max or PiPrius
    if they opt for a plug, and they’ll be THRILLED when they experience that
    rush of using no gas for 10 – 20 miles. This is the way of “progress”.
    People don’t JUMP into new technology – they dip their toes in the swimming
    pool and once they get a taste – it’s then that they think, “hey for a few bucks
    more I could go FORTY MILES ALL ELECTRIC!”… We EV aficianados say
    ” DUH, MAN!”…. But the public does not roll like us. They sway slowly into
    new ways of doing old familiar things. This is why hybrids are the hot
    space. Your average big segment ( midsize/compact ) auto buyer thinks
    PRICE FIRST – So it’s self-evident that anything with a battery pack and
    electric drive that costs less will sell more.

    you go to websites like GM-Volt.com or Priuschat.com and actually read
    what the public says. They want a hybrid or a plug-in, but they can’t afford
    the ones presently sold – so they go buy a base model Prius or a
    affordable 4 cylinder compact. GM is never going to show a profit until they
    actually listen. GM-Volt posters have literally begged and pleaded for a CUV
    Voltec or a budget Volt without all the bells and whistles. What a grand
    experiment for GM to roll out a 20 mile AER Volt in 2013 for $24,000
    after tax credit! You wonder why they didn’t experiment and test these theories.
    It seems the beancounters won, and they completely gave up on profits
    with Volt and just sit there and watch Ford and Toyota take the pie.

    Why can’t GM come up with anything better than the pathetic 2-mode?
    Why can’t they put a smaller pack in a FIVE SEAT VOLT without
    Mylink, and power everything? Why can’t GM catch that consumer that just
    wants to drive to work gas free and doesn’t care about nav systems and
    proximity sensors? NISSAN is working price with LEAF and we’ll see a
    nice ( not huge, because LEAF is a limited BEV second car ) sales

    It’s not rocket science people.

    As we speak Ford is stealing the thunder, Toyota pragmatically builds upon
    Hybrid Synergy Drive and makes record gains, and GM sits around fiddling
    with ELRs and the New Corvette! GM thinks I am going to have a cargasm
    over the shapely Corvette, go to the dealer to drool over it, and a salesman
    is going to catch me on the way out and sell me a Malibu ECO! ….I say

    Meanwhile, behind the scenes carmakers ( including GM ) sit around dreaming
    up ways to bamboozle government figures with promises of a future
    hydrogen highway to nowhere……

    I’m not, and never have been – a Ford fan. But I admire Ford’s vision to see the
    obvious and plan their roadmap with hybrids that will actually sell in the market.
    As long as any manufacturer rolls out cars with plugs – THAT is the car
    company I will admire.

    GM seems like such a dinosaur that they’ll wait until 2017 and “wait-and-see” if
    Tesla actually makes money. Wait and see if Tesla can build a $30,000
    200 mile BEV that the common folk will buy. BY THEN, GM – IT’LL BE TOO LATE.

    I’m not buyin’ any stock, let me tell ya!

    1. Schmeltz says:

      Your fingers probably hurt after all of that typing James—but well said!

      I often think GM missed numerous opportunities too with the Volt in its early years. First, they could’ve/still could take a hit for the team with the MSRP. I mean $5000 less would’ve been a small price hit to absorb on a relatively small volume vehicle in the beginning. And the emotional shock of a high sticker price could’ve been diminished at say $35000 MSRP. Second, the Volt should’ve/could’ve been Malibu sized and comfortably seat 5. Third, as you mentioned, they could bring a lower priced edition out with less battery/range, and less frills. I don’t think these suggestions are difficult or unreasonable.

      1. Herm says:

        GM is happy as long as they get sufficient CARB credits from the Volt, they dont need the Volt to become a heavy hitter.. Nissan does since they built so many Leaf factories across the world, they will make good cash selling those credits

    2. scottf200 says:

      Not sure why you are attempting to put both CMAXs together. They are diff tech.
      The CMAX hybrid compares to a Prius.
      The CMAX Energi plugin compares to a Volt (although it is like a BEV for the 1st ~38 even with hard acceleration the car still runs in electric mode – hence EREV).
      Cruze sold more than all the Prius family !!!
      People say it is cost that held the Volt back but all the plug-ins sure seem to close close to $40k. Hmm. The Volt is hitting it’s stride. Politics clearly played a role in Volt sales – as you post proves as well.

      1. Bonaire says:

        CMax Energi compares more to a Prius Plug-in than a Volt. Both CMax and Pip can run their engines during the EV portion of discharge (CD-mode). Volt doesn’t have to except for these cold winter days.

      2. Carnut71 says:

        Politics may have played a part on the Volt’s sales, but if that’s the case the pro-Volt political camp may have driven sales UP…. Remember there are 2 sides to politics.

        And the Cruze, a conventional gasoline powered car and a darling of fleet companies, didn’t outsell the Prius:


        1. scottf200 says:

          Bonaire – indeed with Volt way ahead in EV miles range and BEV like 1st X miles you are 100% correct.
          Carnut71 – Re: Cruze vs Prius family
          I was referring to 2012.
          2012|2011|Vehicle|2012 Year End|2011 Year End|% Change
          #13 | #10 | Chevrolet Cruze | 237,758 | 231,732 | + 2.6%
          #14 | #21 | Toyota Prius | 236,659 | 136,463 | + 73.4%
          #14.1 | #21.1 | Toyota Prius Liftback | 147,507 | 128,064 | + 15.2%
          #14.2 | #21.2 | Toyota Prius V | 40,669 | 8399 | + 384%
          #14.3 | #21.3 | Toyota Prius C | 35,773 | —– | —–
          #14.4 | #21.4 | Toyota Prius Plug-In | 12,750 | —– | —–

    3. Open-Mind says:

      “What a grand
      experiment for GM to roll out a 20 mile AER Volt in 2013 for $24,000
      after tax credit! ”

      So you want them to put in a smaller battery that might be $4000 cheaper (ignoring the R&D costs), then sell it for about $10,000 less?

      1. Bonaire says:

        Got my 2011 Volt for $25K after rebates – new. It was purchased in July 2012. Bought the prior year, used GM Card earnings + bonus earnings and used the PA Rebate program. I’m sure others can duplicate this maneuver.

  3. evnow says:

    So, may be Model S is the largest selling plugin in Jan ?

    So, why don’t they not publish their numbers !

    1. Jay Cole says:

      One of the last marks of being a true auto maker…monthly sales and production.

      1. Bonaire says:

        They’re not an Auto maker – they’re an automotive experience enabler.

  4. kdawg says:

    Do other countries report monthy? (Canada?)

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Few places record sales as thoroughly and as quickly as in the USA. Some countries you have to go by registrations. Canada is roughly the same as the US, but not as quick overall.

      Here are the ‘major’ players in Canada January 2013 numbers:

      Nissan LEAF: 37
      Chevrolet Volt: 44
      Toyota Prius Plug-In: 33

      1. Bonaire says:

        Hockey’s back – they don’t have time to buy new plug-ins. 🙂

  5. PHEVfan says:

    Jay –

    How about adding a right column to your chart that has the total sales for the month? That would make it easier to tell 1) if the general trend is up or down and 2) whether one model is stealing sales from another. Thanks.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      HowDee PHEV,
      Do you mean on our monthly scorecard tab page at the top of the site?

      We were going to overhaul the look, but got caught up changing the server last week and it didn’t get done…so I am open to suggestions, (=

      1. kdawg says:

        I don’t know how to post pics here, but maybe he’s talking about something like this.


        1. Jay Cole says:

          I’ve thought about that, but the Tesla, Fisker, CODAs of the world make it very imprecise.

          We probably come in at 4,300ish this month (when Ford finally graces us with their numbers), but its more like 5,500-6,000 when the non-reporters (mostly Tesla) come in.

          I guess there could be an off-shoot/side column estimating their numbers, and the monthly net. IDK…maybe that is better then nothing at all?

  6. danpatgal says:

    Is the iMiev number correct? I mean, going up to 257 in January from the paltry numbers like 30 or 40 all year? Is there any story behind the surge (a big fleet sale, perhaps?) or is it really just these cheap lease rates?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      It is, and looks to strictly be a product of heavy discounting.

      The question of course is this discounting a pre-amble to lowering the MSRP and trying to get as much out of this last generation of the EV as they can for a few years, or the beginning of the end starting now.