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!