March 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

APR 2 2013 BY JAY COLE 29

March of 2013 has set a new benchmark for sales of plug-in vehicles, as huge monthly gains at some automakers (and steady results at others) have pushed the overall number of plug-in sales to an all-time high in the US for March.

Most notably, large sales (and production increases) at Nissan with the LEAF, and at Tesla with the Model S, combined for over 4,000 fully electric cars sold during the month, spurring the record result.

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: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 @3:03pm)


2013 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: GM has a bit off an off month as only 1,478 Volts were sold.  (full story here)

Despite increasing production at the Hamtramck facility over the past two months to fill in dealer inventory, plug-in sales were a touch weak at the US automaker.  To remedy this, GM nationally discounted the car by $3,000 to its dealers to round out the month.

In February,  Chevrolet sold 1,626 units, which was up 60% up from a year ago’s result.  This month however GM found itself up against an incentive laden (and consumer hungry) March of 2012, when the company sold 2,289 units.

This is the first year-over-year miss for the Volt since it went on sale in December of 2010.  Sales were off 35%.  For the month, GM did continue to produce Volts at a break-neck speed, building 2,722 in Michigan.

Recently, Chevrolet has said that the 2014 edition of the Chevrolet Volt will go on sale in “late May” and has released the first couple new options on the car…new paint color choices.



2012 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF: Nissan set the all-time monthly sales record for any pure electric vehicle sold in the US for March, with 2,236 LEAFs sold.

As forcasted last week by Nissan execs at the NYC Auto Show, March’s impressive result of  “over 1,900” LEAFs sold, announces Nissan’s return to competing for the crown of top selling plug-in auto maker in the US*

Previously, in February Nissan sold only 653 LEAFs as the company almost completely ran out of 2012 inventory to sell while waiting on US production of 2013 LEAFs to begin.

We expect April’s result to be just as impressive, as Nissan enters the month with over 2,300 cars at the dealership level, with more on the way.  Nissan has said they expect inventory to be optimized by the end of next month.



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.

After estimating Tesla sold about 1,200 Model S sedans in January (thanks to a pull forward of sales in 2012), and 1,400 in February (thanks to a week’s worth of down time in January, Tesla ramped weekly production to over 500 vehicles per week during the month, and likely sold around 2,150 cars in March of 2013.  We estimate around 4,700 sold in the quarter, besting earlier predictions by the company of 4,500.

UPDATE:  At least 4 times a year we get quarterly updates on sales, and Tesla confirms not only was the company profitable in Q1 of 2013, but they sold more than 4,900 cars between January and March.  Just to make the numbers add up, we will bump our March sales estimate up by 150 units to 2,300 Model S sedans sold in March.  (hey, we were pretty close)

Tesla has also announced that the 40 kWh Model S would not be going into production, and all 60 kWh cars would be built with the Supercharging hardware on board.  A base Tesla Model S (60 kWh) will now set you back $69,900, as opposed to the $57,400 in the last quarter of 2014.



Fisker Karma

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

But unlike Tesla, they really don’t make or sell any cars anymore.

It makes the March 2013 sales list as more of a novelty than anything else at this point, and because Fisker does still physically have a few dealership left selling cars.

That being said, the company has not built a single Karma  since July, they have no CEO, a takeover bid by Geely Automotive failed, and Fisker has put all its US workers on furlough.

As for sales specifically, Fisker started the month with 107 2012 Karmas inside the US still left to be sold, and they ended the month with 88…using our patented “Inside EVs Decoder Ring” we will put Karma sales at 19 for March.


2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi:

Ford now reports that sales of its Fusion Energi in March checked in at at decent (especially considering the lack of inventory across the country) at 295 units.

The Fusion plug in went on sale at the very end of last month, but still managed to sell 119 copies.  How short a window?  Well, when we talked to a representative in connection with Ford, just days before month’s end, he said that the company would not get any out during the month.

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 feel is a bit steep.



2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In:  Sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid remained relatively stable, but still a bit on the low side.  Toyota is reporting that it sold 786 units in March 2013.

After selling only 693 plug-ins Prius in February, and 874 in January, with no significant issues or inventory shortages, the other plug-in competition looks to be eroding the electric Toyota’s base.

For 2012, the Prius plug-in finished as the second best seller in the segment (behind the Chevrolet Volt), with 12,750 units sold, but we now question whether Toyota can put up enough of a fight to hold that position against the likes of the new 2013 LEAF, the Tesla Model S, and a similar (but longer ranged) Ford C-Max Energi.




2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi:

Sales of the C-Max Energi remain relatively stable, but improved slightly in March with Ford selling 494 units.

After a strong start in 2012, Ford’s much heralded Michigan assembly facility (MAP) just could not get the ball rolling in January and February, leaving dealers very short on C-Max plug-ins to sell.

In February 334 Energis were sold, after a dismal January result of 338.  Ford entered 2013 with only 175 available units to sell, and ended February at around 600.   March’s result should be significantly improved, as Ford now has approximately 1,000 C-Max Energis in stock.   Still not great, but getting there. 



2013 Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV: In March, Honda sold 23 Fit EVs, and while that might not sound like much (ok, it isn’t really), it represents Honda’s 2nd best selling month of the EV, and equals the total amount of electric Fits the company sold in the first two months of the year.

In February, the Honda Fit EV took off,  improving on January’s result by near 90% …from 8 units sold to 15(Editor’s Note: we are working really hard to spin Honda’s results in a positive light this month)

Although the Fit EV is purely a compliance play for Honda to satisfy CARB, they have still built (and need to sell) 1,100 of the 82 mile EV. At the current selling rate of 14 per month, it is going to take Honda 6.5 years in total to move all their cars. We think it might be a touch hard selling 2013 model year cars in 2020.

We feel a price reduction (on the $389/lease offer) is also in order.



2013 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric:

In March, Ford enjoyed another decent performance out of its all electric car, as 180 Focus EVs were sold..

Last month (February 2013) , Ford sold 158 Focus Electrics in February, or nearly double the amount the automaker sold in January.  However, Ford is not expecting 2013 sales of the model to improve by very much overall, despite a tripling of the dealership base that is able to sell the plug-in car.




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


Toyota RAV4 EV: March was the best result to date for Toyota’s electric SUV, with 133 plug-ins sold.

In February, only 54 plug-in SUVs were sold.

Toyota introduced a deep discount incentive of $10,000 off RAV4 EV pricing in February, with 0% financing. an offer that seemed to spur on new interest in the vehicle.

That discount, as well as federal and state incentives means that consumers in California were getting a total of $20,000 of the Toyota’s MSRP price of $49,800.






2012 Mitsubishi i

Mitsubishi i-MiEV:   /thud…was the sound on Mitsubishi’s 2-month sales revival bottoming out in March, as the Japanese company ran low on old 2012 inventory to sell, and moved only 31 i-MiEVs during the month

Despite some massive sales improvements for the first months of 2013, make no mistake, that was a sell-off, not a resurgence.

For February, Mitsu sold more than 10 times March’s number, with 337 i-MiEVs after moving 257 off dealer lots in January.  To put that volume in context, Mitsubishi has had sold more i-MiEVs (625) already, than all of last year (588).    $69/month leases can do that for you.

Sadly, the streak can’t last forever, as Mitsu is down to its last couple hundred 2012 model year i-MiEVs, and as one might notice, there is still no 2013 model year available in the US.


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

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

Honda Accord Plug-In: March was another month of ‘meh’ results for the electric Accord as a paltry 26 were sold.

Even though Honda said their plug-in Accord went on sale on January 15th, there really hasn’t been any inventory at all to speak of.

In January, only two were sold, with 17 sales registered for February.

The inventory problem looks to persist as Honda ended March with less than two dozen plug-in Accords in stock.  Look for April’s result to also be low double-digits.

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.



Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: First set to arrive in Canada this month, and next month in the US, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive sets a couple new benchmarks in the electric vehicle segment.

Smart ForTwo ED (BRABUS edition)

Smart ForTwo ED (BRABUS edition)

A new “lowest price” EV price tag, starting at $25,000 before federal credits (the Smart qualifies for the full $7,500 btw), but also is the first electric vehicle in the US to come as a Cabrio. Drop top fun begins at $28,000.

The 2-seat Smart electric car gets 68 miles of range from a 17.6 kWh battery.

And before you say that might not be enough range for you; if you live in the city, you will easily destroy that range benchmark, as the Smart EV is a virtual brick in the wind tunnel skewing the range rating much lower than what can be expected driving in town. Conversely, that also makes the Smart EV a terrible choice if you drive on the highway a lot. City MPGe is rated at 122, while highway fuel efficiency falls all the way to 93 MPGe.

Of note: Smart did record 2 Fortwo ED sales in January of 2013, but these were not the 3rd generational Smart EDs (2013 models) that are destined for public consumption in the spring of this year, but reportedly from an earlier 2nd generation offering.

Coming In July

2014 Fiat 500e

2014 Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e:  Fiatsler’s answer to CARB compliance requirements has been slated to go on sale this summer, with a pricing announcement on the car coming April 13th.  InsideEVs expects the car to be priced just over $35,000.

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.

Fiat has also announced this month that they will be providing 12 free days* of car rentals per year to purchasers of the EV, for when longer trips are required…at least for the first three years.

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

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29 Comments on "March 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

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Jay Cole

These monthly reports were so much easier to compile when there was only a couple plug-ins out there, (=


But i guess it’s the most popular article in every month



Can you add a column to the monthly sales chart that adds up the sales of the individual models, giving us a total for all plug-ins sold in the month?


I second that request.

Wood Foss

Yes for me it is the most looked for article. I own the Focus Electric and I know Ford is really not believing in this car in the short term. They are hybrid fans and will continue to push the hybrid vehicles and leave the FFE to sell on it’s own.

That being said, they have sold 240+ in January and February. If they only sell 120 per month, the average for Jan. and Feb., they will move 1440 for the year which is 2x last years sales of 685. Would that be considered “not improving very much overall”?

Ford simply has not committed to the marketing needed. That may be smart and it is certainly their choice. I would like to see more of a push, but I know people are too “range anxious” to consider an all electric car with 23kWh. In my small world people who positively respond to my automobile are commuters. It simply does not make $$$ sense for an under 12,000 mile/yr driver to purchase this vehicle. (But, I wish they would 🙂 )


Great overview, summary, and analysis. Thank you, Jay. Who would have thunk that Tesla would rule them all?


Maybe that’s Elon’s big announcement for today? (j/k) .. but I haven’t heard anything yet.

Jay Cole

Mr. Musk has scheduled a press conference for 5pm (eastern) this afternoon. We’ll be on it the moment it happens, (=


I continue to stick to my “cold weather” hypothesis for why the EV sales were generally mediocre even in March. However the LEAF and Model S sales exceeding all expectations is really a great news and maybe a good reason for the automakers to reconsider their opinion of pure EVs and their strategy of making PHEVs instead.



Could you add a Total per Month for all models column to your score card (on the right maybe). Too lazy to add 🙂


I put the data in a spreadsheet w/some graphs, since I like totals & trends.
its posted on the comments on the Nissan Leaf article


Like button!
There were some Teslas in 2012

Jay Cole

…2,650 give or take a few, (=

Reggie Barns

Toyota would be able to sell the RAV4 EV if anyone knew it existed. No advertising, no signage in any dealership in which I’ve shopped, no mailers to current Leaf owners…nothing. The only reason I knew the RAV4 EV existed was because of this website! Heck, when I went to the dealership, the first two salespersons to whom I spoke didn’t even know the RAV4 had an electric version!

Reggie Barns

This is the problem with Toyota’s attitude towards the RAV4 EV – in their minds this is just a compliance car. As long as Toyota can sell 2,600 of these in three years or so, they’ll be happy. No one at Toyota seems to care whether the vehicle is a hit or not. Considering Nissan sold 2,236 Leafs last month, there’s definitely a market for BEVs out there. But does anyone even know that there’s a car with oodles more room and range available from Toyota for (currently – with existing incentives) just a little bit more money? Why hasn’t Toyota sent a mailer to every single Leaf owner asking, “Do you want a larger electric car with more mileage and 0-60 in 7 seconds? What if we told you it wasn’t much more expensive than a fully-loaded 2013 Leaf? The 2013 RAV4 EV: more car, more range, more speed, more room, not much more money.”

Alan Campbell

It looks like the Americans are leading for Q1 EV/Plug-In Sales!

– Tesla leads EV sales, followed by the Leaf

– Volt leads plug-in hybrid sales, followed by Prius V


Well, the 2013 Leaf is made in America (Tennessee) so most of these cars are domestically manufactured. Hopefully we start seeing more exports for Tesla and GM.


Statik – in case you are looking for black pics of the new cars.

Fiat 500e

Smart Fortwo Electric

Jay Cole

Thanks kdawg, had forgotten about the 500e in black.

I will note I thought about using the smart Fortwo ED – BARBUS in black, but I thought someone might beat me up about it.

/now I can just blame you if anyone notices the special ed smart


OK, if anyone complains, you can use the regular Fortwo EV.


The chart needs one thing. On the right-most side, add a “Total” column. There you can show monthly grand-totals of the individual models and perhaps deduce a growth curve from it. Same for bottom-right – include a YTD grand total. That’s good math.

David Murray

By the time you include the Ford products (they sold almost 1,000 plug ins in March) it looks like almost 8,000 plug in vehicles were sold in March across all manufacturers. That is an impressive number. At a sustained rate that would be close to 100,000 plug-in vehicles for the year. Of course we hope the numbers go up.

I’m personally far more interested in the big picture number than I am any single model. The main reason is that it will create more demand and thus more investment in infrastructure… which I believe will create more awareness and thus more demand for EVs. And thus completing the cycle that will eventually lead to a snowball effect. I think California may already be nearing that point. Unfortunately, around here in Texas 95% of drivers are still unaware that such a thing as an electric vehicle even exists.


The positive sales number is a little troubling, though. Public recharging stations are not keeping up with plug-in sales. So the value of PiHV still lies mainly in charging at home. So, someone wouldn’t buy a Leaf if they live 40 miles from work since that puts them into range anxiety for a round-trip. But, if they could charge at work then surely more EVs would be sold. And there is already crowding at some workplaces where they only installed say 2 or 3 L2 stations and 4 or 5 employees bought plug-ins.


Interesting thing is BEVs outsold PHEVs by 50% for the month, 20% so far this year. Could be a function of new BEV models (Model S & Leaf ’13) and lack of Volt upgrade. Will be interesting to see if the trend persists. Most predictions have PHEVs handily outselling BEVs for 2013.


You can’t put the LEAF and Model S in the same category. They are miles and miles apart.


LOL. Let’s change the category since you don’t like the results.


494 (13.2%) PHEV C-Max Energi
3275 (86.8%) HEV C-Max
3769 (100%) total
I’m surprised.

JP White

Several of you have indicated a desire to see the sales figures analyzed in additional ways. I compiled a spreadsheet of sales since Dec 2012 of BEV and PHEV cars. You are welcome to download the spreadsheet at and total and sub-total to your hearts content 🙂