Mid-Year Report Card On Our 2013 Plug-In Sales Predictions


How Many EVs Will Roll Off Dealership )Or Boutique) Lots In The Second Half?

How Many EVs Will Roll Off Dealership )Or Boutique) Lots In The Second Half?


At the beginning of the year, I decided to walk the plank and throw some numbers out there to predict the US sales of plug-in vehicles.  Since we are now into the dog days of summer, it is time to revisit those predictions and find out how wrong I really was.  Below is a breakdown of how the year is looking and a grade for each prediction, car by car.

You can find the original article and discussion in the comments here.  Also, the half-year sales result chart can be seen (as reference) at the bottom of this article.


Major EVs:

  • 2013 Chevrolet Volt Had A Thin First Half

    2013 Chevrolet Volt Had A Thin First Half

    Chevrolet Volt – Predicted 30,000 (+27.9%), H1 actual 9,855

The first half of 2013 could not have gone the way GM expected with the Volt, with inventory piling up around the country.  It took until June before big money on the hood got the Volt really moving.  Even though the first half of the year has the Volt on pace for 20k sales, I think the normal second half surge and expected MSRP drop will ensure it still ends up at 25,000 for the year.  30k seems out of the question at this point though.  It would require the Volt to average 3,357 vehicles per month!!!  That is a number that has never been seen in any month by any plug-in.

Score B

  • An Aggressive New Model Lineup Has Reshuffled The Nissan LEAF's Sales Fortunes

    An Aggressive New Model Lineup Has Reshuffled The Nissan LEAF’s Sales Fortunes

    Nissan LEAF – Predicted 15,000 (+52.8%), H1 actual 9,839

What a difference a (new model) year makes!  Nissan’s move to produce the LEAF domestically, lower the price, and introduce the entry level is paying off big.  Since the 2013 MY hit the lots with the $199/month lease deals, they are averaging monthly numbers more than double what was seen in 2012.  Nissan seems confident they can maintain or exceed this rate, so 20,000 – 25,000 this year seems likely. Congrats to Nissan on finally getting the LEAF moving like they promised all along.  I am happy to be wrong here.

Grade D

  • Even Though Statistically Not An "Old" EV Offering, Sales Have Definitely Stagnated For The Prius Plug-In

    Even Though Statistically Not An “Old” EV Offering, Sales Have Definitely Stagnated For The Prius Plug-In

    Plug-In Prius – Predicted 8,000 (-21.6%), H1 actual 4,214

2013 has not started off as strong as 2012 finished for the PiP.  It seems like the low AER and number of competitors are limiting its appeal.  It looks certain now that the PiP will fall from #2 in sales in 2012 to #4 for the full year 2013.  The wild card would be some sort of price reduction or lease deal.  Toyota has yet to do this and seems content keeping the PiP at a premium over the rest of the Prius lineup.

Grade A

  • Deliveries To Europe (such as the shown P85+ above sitting in Norway) Will Slow US-Based Sales In Q3 & Q4 Of 2013

    Deliveries To Europe (such as the shown P85+ above sitting in Norway) Will Slow US-Based Sales In Q3 & Q4 Of 2013

    Tesla Model S – Predicted 15,000 (+500%), H1 actual 9,850

I am not sure I need to write anything about Tesla since they have dominated both the press and Wall Street in 2013.  Needless to say they have lived up to their sales hype so far.  With the transition to international deliveries, the US sales will likely continue, but at much lower levels.  The only thing we can be sure of, is Tesla will refuse to tell us what those levels are unless prodded by investors during a quarterly announcement.  The prediction looks to be on track, but we won’t know for sure until Tesla reports on the full year results early in 2014.  Next year will be the real year of predictions as all of the backlogs worldwide will be filled.

Grade A

  • Ford Seems To Be "Right On Track" With Predictions For 2013

    Ford Seems To Be “Right On Track” With Predictions For 2013

    Ford Focus Electic – Predicted 2,000 (+192%), H1 actual 900

The FFE has just been plodding along at relatively low sales levels since introduction.  Even though the vehicle is a good technical competitor to the LEAF, it seems like the price point is keeping it from providing real competition.  Somebody at Ford woke up recently and decided to price it in line (thanks to a $4,000 reduction in the MSRP) with the mid and higher trim level LEAF which is its true counterpart.  It will be interesting where sales go from here.

Grade B

  • Battery Placement In Rear Of The C-Max Energi Is Not Doing Any Favors For 2013 Sales

    Battery Placement In Rear Of The C-Max Energi Is Not Doing Any Favors For 2013 Sales

    Ford C-Max Energi – Predicted 12,000 (+405%), H1 actual 2,482

Wow, and not in a good way. That is about all I can say.  I did not see this coming.  At this point, the November and December sales that formed the basis for my prediction from last year look like total anomalies.  It will be interesting to see if Ford follows Nissan and GM with a price drop or lease deal on this model.  Unfortunately, like the PiP, they are unlikely to price it too close to the non plug-in version, which surely brings in more profit.

Grade F

  • 2013 Ford Fusion Energi From $39,495 (note this price includes an attractive design)

    2013 Ford Fusion Energi From $39,495 (note this price includes an attractive design)

    Ford Fusion Energi – Predicted 1,000, H1 actual 1,584

Wow, in a good way here.  The Fusion Energi looks to be the winner of the whole Ford plug-in lineup.  It shows that in this package utility and good looks may be more important that price.  Or that the mainstream market for the Fusion is not as price sensitive, and that the plug-in version offers a good value to those shopping in this segment class.  Either way, Ford must be happy selling the same AER at a higher price in comparison to the C-Max.

Grade D

  • One Of Our "Other" Writers Made Me Put This Screencap Of A Mitu-Produced Video Here

    One Of Our “Other” Writers Made Me Put This Screencap Of A Mitsubishi-Produced Video Here

    Mitsubishi i-MiEV – Predicted 400 (-32.0%), H1 actual 882

$69/month leases pretty much tells this story.  Mitsubishi found a way to clear out these little 2012 plug-ins, Fire Sale!  The dwindling sales recently are showing that the inventory is drying up and there is no sign of 2013 making their way to our shores.  Once again some unforeseen circumstances made a accurate 2013 prediction impossible.  Send us the Outlander Plug-In already!  That should post some numbers really worth writing about.

Grade C


Mystery/unknown EVs (at the time)

  • Honda Accord PHEV – Predicted 500, H1 actual 200

The price, inventory and lack of marketing seem to have capped the demand for this plug-in at roughly 50 per month.  Don’t look for that to change anytime soon.

Grade A

  • Honda Fit EV – Predicted 200, H1 actual 291

Despite the technical quality, this compliance car was trickling off the lots at an annual pace of 199.2 through May.  That would have won me some sort of injection molded plastic prediction trophy or something!

Then the ZEV gauntlet must have come down from behind the scenes. Did Tesla raise their ZEV credit prices?!?  Honda went off and made arguably the best lease deal on the market (when combined with the insurance, zero down and probably most importantly unlimited mileGR) and sold more in one month than I had predicted for the entire year.  Bravo Honda.  Maybe consider offering this nationwide and try regaining the stance as industry leader in vehicle efficiency.

GRADE: A+ (thru May), a solid D in June

  • Toyota RAV4 EV – Predicted 750, H1 actual 408

The $10,000 off deal gave a little pop to the sales this spring, but the RAV4 EV sales cannot seem to break out, even with the Tesla drivetrain pedigree and being the only plug-in SUV on the market (California only).  It may just be sticker shock of walking past a dated body style RAV4 on the lot and seeing $50k.  I can’t help but wonder what sales would look like if they had asked Tesla to engineer in SuperCharger capability.

Grade A

  • Fiat 500e – Predicted 250, H1 actual Not on Sale

This electrified (compliance) version of the city car has not quite hit the market yet, but sales should start showing up any day.  The initial reviews are raving it and Fiat already stated that 2013 is totally pre-sold out.  So it seems the only guess here is how many did they plan to build this year.  I am going to say that my 250 is low by a factor of two.  We will find out shortly.

Grade N/A

  • Chevrolet Spark EV – Predicted 2,000, H1 actual 27 (12 days of sales reported to date)

The torque monster, also known as Spark EV, landed just this past month.  Based on the pricing GM seems to be intent on making sure these don’t pile up on lots.  The big unknown: “Is it a car for real production distribution or just compliance for the ZEV states?”  The early inventory allocation is targeting the compliance states, so the decision may still be in the balance.

Grade N/A



  • Predicted 87,100 Total Sales, H1 Actual 40,647

Historically plug-in sales have fared much better in the fall. There is a combination of factors from less time for the tax rebate, to new model introductions, and discounts on slow sellers.  Check out the Monthly Scorecard to see the second half effect in 2011 and 2012.

For the second half of 2013, Tesla is shipping most of its Model S sedan overseas and that will negatively affect the monthly sales.  The introduction of the Spark EV and 500e will pick up a little bit of that slack.  However, the big weight will be carried by a theoretical slash in the Volt MSRP, along with a full half year of current LEAF volumes.  New pricing on the FFE and the Fit EV should also help things along as well.

The 87,000 total year sales seems like a good middle ground, but there is a real shot at crossing 100,000 sales this year.  Either way, I think we will see the first 5 digit month before the year is out.  These are all great milestones for the industry.

Grade A

Overall, this is not a report card I would be happy to show my parents, there is some serious toe-stubbing happening with some nameplates, but the overall level of the industry is growing at the rate we expect, which is great.  The continued introduction of models and lowering of prices shows that the industry is maturing and gaining a real foothold.  There are manufacturers serious about making a name for themselves amongst would-be plug-in owners.  The second 100k plug-ins sold in America will certainly be achieved much faster than the first 100k has.  We may not have 1 million on the road by 2015, but it may only be a year or two past the mark.

Editor’s Note: Once again, we would like to thank Josh for being willing to stick his neck out and make his predictions the first of the year.  We should note all many of our ‘other’ writers put their head in the sand and ran for cover, saying nonesense about being objective or some other nonsense…they were just afraid.

2013 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers (click to enlarge) *Estimated Tesla North America numbers have been included in this graph, which also include Canadian sales (click to enlarge)

2013 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers (click to enlarge) *Estimated Tesla North America numbers have been included in this graph, which also include Canadian sales (click to enlarge)

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


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25 Comments on "Mid-Year Report Card On Our 2013 Plug-In Sales Predictions"

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Interestingly my new forecast is about 87k, even though individual forecasts are quite different.

I’ve been far too busy the last 200 or so days to have time to make a prediction for 2013 sales…just looking at the calendar, there looks to be a spot open in mid to late December, (=

Battery placement on CMax and Fusion Energis are horrific. Not sure why someone would buy a 600 mile range car that you can’t fit a suitcase in.

One question: 100k yes/no?

No – unless somehow Energi & PIP sales pickup. Looks unlikely if they don’t drop the price quite a bit.

Nice article and summary.

Prediction: We’ll see these numbers continue to trickle upwards as [1] more people get used to the notion that EVs are (gasp!) Real Cars That Make Great Second (Or Even First) Vehicles, [2] Toyota and Honda get off their posteriors and get serious about selling vehicles with plugs. That doesn’t mean just the obvious things, like much greater production and better availability of the Fit EV, but also giving the PiP a big enough battery pack — enough for a 20 miles range is the minimum to make it take off, I think. I have no idea what the heck is holding Toyota back on that front.

Again, we should all keep in mind that we’re still pretty early in the “market sorting itself out” phase. There will be some business models and products that fail miserably, and there will also be some surprises that pan out very nicely, like the Leaf S. Neither of those outcomes in a new market built on a disruptive technology should surprise anyone.

The 900 pound Gorilla driving the plug car is how much they cut the Price of the new Chevy Volt. If they could try and get rid of the stigma of it being a $40,000 car it might execrate very quickly. The facts supporting this are that I have seen four to five kinds of Plug in cars with gas engines driving around weekly but I have never seen a fully 100% electric car on the highway. This at least makes it look like main stream people who want to take a dip into the EV swimming pool might like plug in hybrids in that they want to try plunging in cars but at the time time are shy of 100% electrics. If the Chevy Volt is able to start cutting it’s prices it could at least knock out the Plug in Prius. But what could trigger a flood of them is if they risk it can try to go for cutting down as close as possible towards a pre tax credit price of $30,000 to $33,000

Here is what I find interesting about the numbers:

Consistency of LEAF sales for the last 3 months right at 2000/month with a slight increasing trend: 1900, 2100, 2200. This is a good sign.

Not same for Volt though: 1300,1600, 2700.
The only time they can get a good month is when they lop at least 4000$ off the price. GM has a tough problem statement here. The only way they can sell more Volts is to increase their losses on the car. (I’m assuming close to break even at 39K MSRP.)

So what will they do for 2014 pricing??? Hmm I don’t know. They are screwed either way. Keep the price up and no sales or increase their losses and increase sales.

Something needs to give. They need a cost reduced version real bad. They need to get gen 2 cost reduced out ASAP but I don’t see that happening.

Maybe if they sell enough high profit trucks they can afford to under write the Volt.

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the parts and building costs of the volt have most likely gone down in that the volt first came out in 2010 but the production model was out in 2008 while now it is the year 2013. So this gives almost three full years to five years for their parts makers and for them to figure out ways to cut prices to make the car. Also they say battery costs have dropped anywhere from 20% to 40% over the last three years. In that a lot of the data on costs of electric batteries is many from 2010 while you rarely hear anything about the costs to make batteries in say 2013.

Personally I don’t think they are losing money and the price cuts they are making on this and several other electric cars are in natural line with the price cuts that DVD and Cell Phones went under when generation twos started to come out.

I think 90K and even 100K is possible for the US market this year, as for surprises in the models ranking…

…In the beginning of the year i thought that Tesla and Ford would sell about the same. I know, now it sounds weird, but at the time it made sense, i never expected for Tesla to sell as much and for Ford to sell so little.

Thanks for a nice summary!

I second that. Thanks Josh for an interesting read.

I did my part… one of the June Fusion Energi’s is mine. Although it took Ford 149 days from order to my driveway.

Thank you Josh and thank you to all that prepare the EV Newsletter. It’s something that I look forward to every month (or so).

I am a proud ’12 volt owner and like everyone else, it saddens me that the greatness of this vehicle and technology is being restricted to the few that are / were willing to pay a premium. This is an Amazing car! GM has to figure out a way to get the price down to $30K and come up lease arrangements similar to what Honda did last month. Once the public perceptions change on this vehicle, I believe that this configuration of hybrid will become the standard for commuter vehicles.

My wife drives a CTS…I drive a Volt…Gee wouln’t it be great if somebody would put the two together….oh wait, they are….dang, looks like the price will be prohibitive for the working middle class

I am one of the lucky 200 folks to have a 2014 car, the only one available right now, the Honda Accord Hybrid Plug-In. I’m getting used to people coming over to me to ask about it, and this is in the SF Bay Area. When I do my around town errands I get over 90mpg. The gas engine is designed for best efficiency on the highway, between 50 and 55mpg, and when on a longer trip using a freeway an easy to push button by the gear stick lets you take it out of full electric mode early on to save the battery for later street driving. Handles like a charm, has a full sized sedan feel, trunk is decent. Big advantage over the Volt: visibility out the rear, which in the Volt, to my mind at least, is dangerously limited. No comparison w/ Volt in terms of interior room and full-sized automobile feel; mine was the same price. Gets 13 to 20 miles electric when fully charged. All kinds of little bells and whistles to track one’s mileage and everything else. So many regular folks don’t understand the basic concept of plugging in an automobile to give it… Read more »