The New 2013 LEAF Enjoyed Two Very Strong Initial Sales Months In Japan Before Returning To The Historical Norms In March. Can US Sales Make It Three In A Row Next Month?

The New 2013 LEAF Enjoyed Two Very Strong Initial Sales Months In Japan Before Returning To The Historical Norms In March. Can US Sales Make It Three In A Row Next Month?

April plug-in vehicle sales had a high level to shoot for this month, as March logged a year's best 7,800+ electric vehicles sales, despite some lower than expected numbers from Ford and Chevrolet.  Unfortunately, they fell about 600 short, posting 7,239 new plug-in sales...still good for second best.

The big questions for April were:

  • could Chevy rebound and maintain sales numbers that would get the company back on track to reach their 36,000 Voltec worldwide sales goal?   answer: not so much
  • will Nissan be able to produce enough cars to sell another 2,000 cars plus stock dealership inventories?  answer: yes and no (respectively)
  • can Ford finally align production of their Energi offerings (C-Max and Fusion) with demand...which has been coming up sorely short in 2013?    answer: not even close
  • will Toyota continue to plot a straight line when it comes to Prius plug-in sales just below 1,000 units?  answer: the trend was broken as sales also sagged in April

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

(last update: Friday May 10, 2013 @ 8:00am)


2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt:  In April, 1,306 units it is for the Volt.  Not a great result considering past sales results.

Perhaps we had been a bit spoiled when it came to sales expectations of the 38-mile extended range Chevy going into 2013.

For the last 6 months of 2012, the Volt surpassed the 2,000 units moved mark, 5 times, topping out at 2,981 in October.

For the first quarter of 2013, GM has sold only 4,244 cars, with 1,478 Volts sold in March (full story here) and its almost the same story for April.  General Motors reports that Volt sales in April came in at 1,306 units, a number that's down 10.7 percent compared to April 2012 sales of 1,462.  On the YTD level, Volt sales now come in at 5,550, or up 3.2 percent over the YTD mark of 5,377 through the first 4 months of 2012.

In an effort to boost April sales, Chevrolet continued an earlier program offering $3,000 cash off the price of a Volt, which could also be used in conjunction with other available incentive programs ($1,000+), and some dealership-level discounting...making purchases of the Volt start as low as $34,000 for the savvy consumer.

Regardless, of how sales pan out for the rest of the year, General Motors has way over-stocked dealerships with inventory, and we feel it is almost a certainty that the Volt line will be idled for an extended period in the very near future, with close to 9,000 Chevy Volts on hand.

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 paint color choices.



2012 Nissan LEAF

2012 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF:  Nissan continued its resurgence in 2013, as 1,936 units were sold (the second highest month ever), demonstrating the 2013 LEAF is still being received well from a sales standpoint.

According to Nissan, 1,937 units sold represent a 423.5 percent increase compared to April 2012 figures.  In terms of year-to-date totals, the Nissan LEAF now stands at 5,476 units.  Nissan further points out that the 5,476-unit mark is up 160.4 percent over the YTD mark at this same time in 2012.

In March, thanks to the arrival of the US-made, lower priced model, Nissan set the all-time monthly sales record for any pure electric vehicle sold in the US ever, with 2,236 LEAFs sold.

Previous to March, and almost completely out of old 2012 inventory to sell, Nissan sold only 653 LEAFs.

Nissan's factory in Smyrna, TN has now almost completely caught up to order-demand for the 2013 LEAF, but inventory at the dealership level unexpectedly stalled in April, rising only 300 units over the course of the month to 2,600.  Given the proper amount of inventory, Nissan quite likely could have sold close to 3,000 LEAFs in either March or April of this year.



2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales...but they do give a lot of updates, and tweets, and Facebook updates, and press conference; while at the same time consumers fanatically track their progress, so we can make a pretty accurate guess.

For March, after the company announced it would be profitable in Q1 of 2013, and saying that weekly production to over 500 vehicles per week during the month, we did some simple math and came up with an estimate of 2,300 cars sold during the month.

This month, the game at Tesla is to keep production high, and the line moving as fast as possible before sales slow in late May/June for the Euro-zone production changeoever.

To that end, Tesla announced that the 40 kWh Model S would not be going into production, but those orders would be built with the 60 kWh battery on board (whicle will still be limited to the prior specs of the 40 kWh version).  Also, all 60 kWh cars (like those produced originally) would be built with the Supercharging hardware on board.  Additionally, the 85 kWh cars that had been waiting on a special "Sunset Red" color also started to get pushed out of the California factory in mid April.

For April, we estimate Tesla sold 2,100* Model S electric sedans.

(*)  August 7th, as per Q2 results our quarterly estimates were off by about 200 units overall (4,950 vs 5,150).  Article updated to reflect.  Also, Model S sales estimates are given representative of North American sales, which include Canada. 


Fisker Karma

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.

As such, we had promised to take the Karma off our sales lists for 2013...but the company has been such a high profile train-wreck lately, we just could not bring ourselves to do it.

Here are some highlights of the month that was for the California EV-maker:

...etc., etc., etc.

All that being said, the company still has not built a single Karma since July, and they ended April with only 88 cars left in inventory.  Under the cloud of imminent bankruptcy, you can imagine Fisker's remaining dealers are now eager to discount and clear out remaining product...and a massive 14 units were sold.


2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi:  The Fusion Energi continues to increase sales month-by-month in the US, albeit very slowly, as Ford seems hesitant to really build up inventories of any of their plug-ins quickly.

For April, Ford sold 365 Fusion Energis.

This result comes after selling a decent 295 units (considering the constrained inventory across the country) in March.

The Fusion plug in went on sale at the very end of last February, and still managed to sell 119 copies in that month.  Until Ford builds a lot more of these, it will be fairly hard to get a handle on what the long term demand for the car will be.

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

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In:  Sales continue to be low for the Prius Plug-In with Toyota reported it sold only 599 units in April.  Actually, that is an all-time low for Prius Plug-In sales in a single month since it launched back in March 2012.

In March, 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.

Last year Toyota sold 12,750 plug-in Prii in the 10 months it was available, it currently appears that only around 9,500 will be sold after doing a full year's worth of business in 2013.



2013 Ford C-Max Energi

2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi: For April, sales on the C-Max Energi were flat, as Ford sold 411 copies.  (Last month 494 were sold)

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

In April, Ford began the month with about 1,000 C-Max Energis in stock to sell to customers, and that number grew to about 1,400 by month's end.

Even though this is still considered to be a very low inventory level, we expected a better result on the C-Max Energi...and the months of selling around 1,000 units around when the car was first introduced (November/December of 2012), seem a long way off right now.






2013 Honda Fit EV

2013 Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV:  In April, 22 Fit EVs were sold.

Why, oh why, does Honda not cut the lease rate ($389/month) on their 82 mile EV and get their CARB compliance cars sold and out the door?

It is truly painful to watch and track sales of their electrified Fit and now that Honda has released April sales figures, we see it's yet one more month of horrendously low numbers for the Japanese automaker.

For 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)

Although the Fit EV is purely a compliance play for Honda to satisfy CARB, they still have to sell 1,100 of them.  After almost a year on the market, they have still sold less than 200!



2013 Ford Focus Electric

2013 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric: April results show that while the Focus Electric is not a big player, it is a consistant one, as 147 Focus EVs were sold, off about 20% from last month.

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

Previous to that, Ford sold 158 Focus Electrics in February, and has sold 566 for the year to date.

Don't look for Ford to do much better (or worse) than the past few months as the company 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

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


Toyota RAV4 EV:  Though March might of been a stellar month, April wasn't, as sales returned to more of the norm.  Toyota reports selling only 70 units of the RAV4 EV in April 2013.

March was the best result to date for Toyota's electric SUV, with 133 plug-ins sold.  That result came after only selling 54 of the plug-in SUVs in February.

Earlier this year, Toyota decided to get serious in a attempt to move the over 2,000 units that will be required by CARB compliance over the next few years, and introduced a deep discount incentive, which in some cases amounted to $10,000 off the RAV4 EV, as well as 0% financing.

Those programs seem to have been successful.

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

2012 Mitsubishi i

Mitsubishi i-MiEV:  In April, sales of the i-MiEV rebounded quite a bit over the dismal numbers posted in March.  Mitsubishi says i-MiEV sales check in at 127 units in April, which isn't too bad considering how low the volume was in March.

After a very strong January and February results, sales bottom out in March with only 31 sold, as the Japanese company ran low on old 2012 inventory to sell.

Despite some massive sales improvements in 2013 over 2012, make no mistake, this is a sell-off, not a resurgence; further underlined by the fact that Mitsubishi offered up to $10,000 off the MSRP on the i-MiEV in April.

For February, Mitsu sold 337 i-MiEVs after moving 257 off dealer lots in January, a massive improvement over anything prior in 2012.  To put that volume in context, Mitsubishi has had sold more i-MiEVs (752) in 2013, 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.  (but you can still check out what you are missing here, as the car is sold elsewhere in the world)


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

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

Honda Accord Plug-In: April was a stand out month of sorts for the plug-in Accord with sales "skyrocketing" to 55 units.  Yep, that's more than double the 26 PHEV Accords sold in March.

Even though Honda put their plug-in Accord on sale on January 15th, there really hasn't been much inventory at all to speak of.  In January, only two were sold, with 17 sales registered for February.

Officially classed as the new year's first '2014' model, the Accord PHEV doesn't come cheap either, 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: The Smart ED officially lands on May 15th, so we know for sure, we will be adding the tiny 2-seat EV to the list of US sold vehicles next month.

Smart ForTwo ED (BRABUS edition)

Smart ForTwo ED (BRABUS edition)

The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive sets a couple new benchmarks in the electric vehicle segment.

UPDATEAll the pricing (including battery rental option) and specs have now been made available -- you can check them out here.

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.  Smart says the EPA rating on the electric drive is 76 miles, 59 miles on the highway.

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.


2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

The Chevrolet Spark EV is GM's first new plug-in offering the that US since the Chevy Volt went on sale in late 2010.

The Spark EV is considered by many to be a CARB compliance car, and the fact it is only initially being put on sale in California and Oregon would seems to suggest that may be accurate.  However, if GM's 82 mile (just epa rated recently) is met with sales success, it will likely be coast-to-coast in a short matter of time.

InsideEVs also had a chance to have a little chat with execs at GM, and they say that the car maybe in showrooms as early as late June.



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 least for the first three years.


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