Thanks To The Tax Implications Of The $7,500 Federal Credit On Plug-Ins, December Will End The Year Strong For Electric Vehicle Sales

While the year will fall just short of 100,000 plug-in vehicles sold in America, the second half growth of the industry is undeniable as nearly 40% more cars were sold between July and December - a trend we hope continues into 2014.

For the month, the burning questions are:

  • Can Ford's Energi products (Fusion and C-Max) continue to shine?
  • Nissan announced late in December that new production capacity has finally come online for the LEAF...after 9 months of waiting, just what is the public's demand for Nissan's 75 mile EV?
  • How long will it take Toyota to recover lost inventory after Prius PHV price cut obliterated dealer stock in October?
  • A few Cadillac ELRs found their way into customer's hands for Christmas, but how much demand will there be for the $75,000 plug-in?  And how many sales did GM lose on the Chevrolet Volt in 2013,  as production of the best selling EV in US history was stunted over the past 4 months?


Below you can find the results for your own favorite plug-in vehicle, plus a look behind the numbers as well. Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is the year-to-date graph of all the EV auto sales by month.

(last update: 12:05 pm January 6th, 2014)


2014 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: For December 2,392 Volts were sold, which was down 9.2% over December of 2012, when GM sold an impressive 2,633. (full story here)

Previously in November 1,920 Volts were sold, which was actually an increase over 2012 when just 1,519 were moved off dealer lots.

December's result means that GM sold less extended range Chevys in 2013 than 2012.   23,094 were sold in 2013 vs 23,461 - a loss of 1.9%

To blame for the year-over-year miss is an inventory situation we first alluded to in October.

Basically, GM overbuilt 2013 model year stock in the summer, thinking they had enough inventory so they could temper 2014 production as well as also start to build out the Cadillac ELR.  However, a big price reduction in the 2014 edition of the Volt ( made clearance deals on the 2013s very attractive to customers and has put GM in a hold on 2014 inventory they have yet to dig themselves out of.

There is currently just over 2,000 2014 Chevrolet Volts available for sale across the US, well below the historical norms.  We expect this situation to be rectified quickly in January and February - unfortunately demand for plug-ins is historically very week in the first quarter of a new fiscal year.




2013 Nissan LEAF - 2014s Arrive In December

Nissan LEAF:  Nissan ended the year on a high as 2,529 LEAFs were sold - the company's best monthly result to date.  (full story here)

For the year, Nissan has sold 22,610 cars, which is a big improvement of 2012 when only 9,819 were sold.

Previously, in November 2,003 LEAFs were sold - which was only 1 more car than than in October.

Before December's result, Nissan was the most consistent selling electric vehicle in the US, as November was the 9th month in a row around the 2,000 units sold mark.

That uncanny consistency however was built out of Nissan's limited production abilities at their assembly facility in Smyrna, TN due to battery supply issues.  Something that started to go away in December.

According to the company, all that is now behind them (thankfully) and we will finally see what the demand is the LEAF starting in January as Nissan says the LEAF is now being pumped out around the clock with more batteries in hand.  Nissan decided last May to bump production from just under 2,000 units per month up to 2,700 - not exactly the quickest of ramp ups.

2013 model year inventory did increase to almost 3,500 units in December before the plant was idled over Christmas, but it will not be going any higher as the first dozen or so 2014 editions finally showed up just before the calendar flipped over.



2014 Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR: With very (very) few days during December to be able to see the ELR, GM did manage to sell 6 copies of the luxury Volt-based coupe. (full story here)

Truth be told, we didn't expect to see the Cadillac ELR show up at dealerships until January of 2014, yet there it was being loaded up in front its Hamtramck Michigan Assembly plant on December 17th.  (That story and video can be found here)

How many of the 37 mile extended range Cadillac ELRs will be made, and how many will be sold in 2014? With a starting price tag of $75,995 (and from $89,500 in limited edition Sax Fifth Avenue trim) probably not a heck of a lot.

How many plug-in Caddys did GM manage to float on dealer lots by year's end?  About 60.

Also of interest:  Cadillac has also made available a premium charging station for the ELR.



2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales… so we never know for sure what the numbers are until their quarterly updates. Tesla’s Q3 financials confirmed the first 9 months sales at a level of about 15,500 units, with just over 14,000 sold domestically.

As this is a list of US sales, we are now forced to shift away from tracking strictly production and deliveries for the company overall as they are delivering throughout no one freak out when US sales don't match total production from here on out.

While putting a number to ongoing demand in the US is not easy, we feel relatively confident it currently lies in the 700-1,100 unit range per month.

However, that is NOT the estimated sales range December as Tesla buyers are NOTHING like buyers of other EVs.  Simply put, the $7,500 is largely in play for Model S purchases (which are just that - purchases, not leases).  Also, as it is the end of the year, the amount of deliveries scheduled by Tesla in the US is way up, despite more than 1,000 international sales this month.  (Tesla sold 553 in Norway alone in the first 23 days of December)

We estimate 1,500 Model S sedans were sold in December.

(*) Model S sales estimates are given representative of North American sales, which include Canada.



2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: In DecemberPorsche sold another 47 copies of their $100,000 plug-in.

Previously in November only 4 Panamera S E-Hybrids were sold as dealer inventory was more than a little tight.

While still unconfirmed by the company, according to "sources" there was a few minor production hiccups that prevented the Panamera plug-in from getting to market in a big way.

However looking at inventories, whatever those issue may or may not have been seems to have been solved as about 50 more S E-Hybrids showed up by month's end at Porsche dealerships (besides the near 50 they sold)

Going forward, it is estimated that the plug-in may account for 10%-15% of all Panamera sales - which generally amounts to about 500 per month.

The Panamera S E-Hybrid has a combined 416 hp output (333 hp electric) and can get north of 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph. Pricing starts at $99,000.  Also of interest, the S E-Hybrid is currently available at all Porsche dealers nationwide - a rare thing these days.

(*- NEDC rating. EPA rating will be released in soon, we expect that number to be about 15 miles)



2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet SPARK EV: General Motors closed out the first year of Spark EV sales with 76 sold in December, good for 539 overall in 2013.

Previously, sales improved in November as 87 units were moved off California and Oregon lots - a 32% increase over October

In October, the little Chevy electric posted a result of 66 Spark EVs sold during October, which was down some from September when 78 were sold.

However, no one should read anything into the monthly number... at least if they are trying to get a handle on Spark EV demand, as GM basically sets their own monthly sales number by curtailing inventory.  GM could sell a lot more if they wanted to.

In December, the amount of remaining Spark EVs on dealership lots was almost halved from November - down to just over 100.

In October, InsideEVs learned exclusively direct from Chevy that the company has "no plans" to make the car available outside of California and Oregon... so at least for now, we can call this car a compliance play - meaning GM will ship and sell the number it deems necessary until further notice.  As for international sales of the Spark EV, the exit of the Chevrolet brand in Europe means that plans to sell the all electric Chevy in 2014 have also been scrapped.

We figure that any 3-digit number probably satisfies GM's internal projections for the car.



Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma: Last month we said "We are DELIGHTED to say this will be the LAST month the Fisker Karma is on the monthly sales list!" because of the company's trip into bankruptcy.

...but we started the year with them on the list, so we will end with them on the list and "re-promise" to not mention them at all in 2014 on the sales charts.   It appears that about 6 new Fisker's were registered as sold in the United States in December, leaving less than 30 "new" 2012 model year Karma's still looking for owners.





2014 Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e: When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don't report sales).

Chrysler/Fiat, which has been notoriously anti-EV in the past, is giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.

Even still we did get a fairly accurate early read on the initial "early adopter" demand in during company's first couple months of sales thanks to a fairly serious issue and a "voluntary safety recall."

Update from the future:  Thanks to a recall notice in May of 2014, we find that 2013 sales of the Fiat 500e were higher than originally thought. For December we estimate 470 were sold.

As for the car itself, 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.



2013 Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV: As per the norm, Honda sold a production constrained 51 Fit EVs in December.

For November 23 Fit EVs were sold.  Previously in October, Honda managed to move 40 Fit EVs, which roughly matches the pace set in previous months.

So, the story continues to be: Inventory, where is the inventory?

As in...there is none - ok, actually there is about a dozen in stock nationwide, but for all intents and purposes, the number might as well be zero.

So why is the Fit EV America's most in demand car? Well, Honda has found the holy grail when it comes to selling a limited number of compliance vehicles. Lease them out cheap ($259/month including partial insurance with nothing down)...and give customer unlimited mileage on those leases. (all the details here)

With a hot seller on their hands and Tesla ZEV credits in their back-pocket ... and now more than half of the planned production now sold for the US on the Fit EV (1,100), we had doubted new inventory in depth would ever come from Honda - now we can confirm it, as Honda has made a statement on the situation.

"The Fit EV is available on a limited basis, with continued production of about 40 vehicles per month. Vehicles are allocated regionally and distributed based on demand from dealership-maintained wait lists."

So if you get one...count yourself lucky.



2014 smart ED - As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: Despite only being available regionally, the smart ED continues to put up strong numbers (relatively speaking) - for December 167 were sold.

Quirky fact of the 2nd half?  The smart ED was the 3rd best selling pure electric vehicle for the last 6 months of 2013 with 750 units sold.

Previously in November, smart sold the 2nd most smart EDs ever as 153 were sold in November.

Previously in October the good times continued to roll for the small off-shoot of Daimler, as 111 smart Eds were sold, bring the year-to-date total up to 603.

In September 137 copies of the smart ED was also sold. In fact the last three month have well beat smart's early expectations of selling about 60 per month until the vehicle was available nationally.

The USA-wide rollout has been hampered by some unforeseen worldwide demand that has lead to a 9 month backlog from parent Daimler in October. The company has said that battery cell availability issues are now under control know and they can indeed satisfy ongoing demand.

At the end of December there was about 250 EDs in the 9 states it is currently available (CA, CT, MA, MD, ME, NJ, NY, OR, RI), although it should be noted that if you want the ED in a Cabrio (convertible), you are currently out of luck, as apparently production out of France has been focused on just churning out whatever they can make the fastest - namely coupes. Less than 10 convertible smart Electric Drives are current in stock - the same as last month.

Although, sales of the smart ED have fluctuated fairly wildly in the last few months, the introduction of little EV nationally in "early" 2014 is sure to smooth out the curve in the low 3 digits.

The smart ED is the first plug-in for America to be offered with a "battery rental" option, which brings the cost of the Smart ED down to $19,990, but adds a $80 month battery rental payment, as well as includes a wider (and longer) battery warranty. Check out all the specs, options and pricing

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



2014 Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi: The Fusion Energi continues to be the jewel of Ford's plug-in lineup - the electric sedan notched 791 more sales in December, and finished the year with just over 6,000 sold - not bad considering it was only introduced in February

Previously in November, 870 were confirmed sold by Ford, which although not their 'best month' ever, was still an very impressive result.

October was the zenith of sales results as 1,087 were sold.

Passing the 4-digit mark in October was uncharted territory for the Fusion Energi as the car's previous high was set just last month in September when 750 were sold.

As far as plug-ins go, this is a extremely high margin car for Ford, and they probably could not be happier with the results to date.

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




2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In: For December 919 Prius PHVs were sold when was impressive give the limited supply of late.

Even in November while almost completely exhausted of new inventory, Toyota still managed to sell 1,100 copies of the plug-in Prius. (full story here).

Previously in October the Prius PHV turned the plug-in world on its head as America's best selling hybrid car also became the best selling plug-in for the month.

In total 2,095 units. Yes, that's 2, typo there were sold October. (full story here) Amazing what a $2,010 to $4,620 price cut in MSRP can do for sales!

Unfortunately what was great for October, is now bad news for December and January sales, as Toyota enters 2014 with only about 550 Prius PHVs left in America to sell.




2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi: Sales continued to be "steady" in December as 837 C-Max Energis were sold.  For the year 7,154 were sold, good for being the 5th best selling plug-in for America.

Previously in November, sales were off ever-so-slightly with the C-Max plug-in for November as 941 were sold.

Everything at Ford seemed to sell well previously in October (outside the Focus Electric), and the C-Max Energi turned in its own "best month of the year" result with 1,092 plug-ins sold.

The all-time record was set in the Energi's first month on the market, as there was a sizeable demand backed up after the standard hybrid was released - that November (2012) 1,259 were sold.

But realistically speaking, to go much higher that current levels something needs to be about the MSRP. At $32,950 as we feel it is just too close to the Chevrolet Volt, especially after GM lower the price of its 38 mile, extended range car by $5,000 in August...the only problem for Ford (and EV fanatics) is that the C-Max hybrid is selling so well that Ford is likely hesitant to close the gap between it and the plug-in Energi version.

Still, with 2014 pricing not yet announced thanks to an odd production schedule...we expect to see a change in the starting asking price soon.




2013 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric: December say 158 more Focus Electrics sold in the US.

Always as consistent performer, the Focus Electric sold 130 units previously in November. 115 were sold in October.

The Focus EV is really the 'oak tree' of plug-in sales reporting, sure and steady; always 'one hundred and something' sales could almost set your watch to it. Previously in September, 110 all-electric Fords were sold.

Taking December into account, 14 out of the last 15 months have seen triple digit sales starting with a "1"....although Ford does now seem determined to correct the trend of 100ish sold per month, as Ford slashed 2014 model year pricing by $4,000...down to $35,200.

On November 21st, the NHTSA issued an official recall of 2,456 Focus Electrics due to a dangerous "Stop Safely Now" issue, that could see the all-electric Ford lose power - even when in motion (that story here). As this has been a long recall in the making, hopefully putting this problem in the rear view mirror will help sales going forward.

Is a 200+ month in the cards? Oh the excitement of anticipation!




2014 Toyota RAV4 EV (+1 to kdawg for the file)

Toyota RAV4 EV: Toyota reported in December that 28 RAV4 EVs were sold - the electric SUV's worst showing since January of 2013.

Prior to December, RAV4 EV sales were already cooling off as November logged only 62 copies sold.

Previous to November, 91 plug-in SUVs were sold, which was down from the recent upswing over the past 3 months for the compliance-built Toyota plug-in.

Overall however, Toyota has experience a resurgence in the 2nd half of 2013, well on their way to selling the required number of EVs to satisfy CARB compliance.

To bump 2nd half sales Toyota has taken a page out of Honda's playbook on their compliance vehicle and is now offering the RAV4 EV lease with something the mainstream players can't -

In the short term, it seems to seriously be working - however, Toyota has had some serious ups and downs selling the electric SUV, so we are going to say that Toyota still its work cut out for them trying to sell 2,600 of these over the next year and a half.

How many RAV4 EVs will be sold next month, or next year?  Percentage wise no vehicle fluctuates more in sales than the Toyota.




2012 Mitsubishi i

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: In December a not-so-inspiring 11 I-MiEVs were sold.

But thanks to an early year clearance of outgoing 2012 model year i-MiEVs that happened at Mitu sales will end 2013 up more than 100%

Previous to this month, 12 i-MiEVs were sold in November, after the company notched 28 and 20 units sold in the two months previous to that.

What is the problem? No inventory, as 2013 models never arrived at dealerships this year; only old 2012 models remain.

What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing as Mitsubishi has just announced the

$22,995 also INCLUDES standard fast charging and a host of other standard features that used to be options. The MSRP price reduction equals $6,130 less than the outgoing 2012 model.

Want to know more about the new cheapest EV in America? Click!   Our forecast for i-MiEV sales for 2014?  Next to nothing from January to April, then all they can build ( thereafter.




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

Honda Accord Plug-In: In December, 38 more plug-in Accords were sold.

Previously in November 68 copies were sold, close to the all-time high that was set in October at 71 Accord plug-ins.  Still, to say Accord PHEV sales are flat in the US would be an understatement. For September, Honda sold 51 electric Accords.

Practically speaking, the Accord plug-in is the anti-Fit EV, as they just can't sell these things.

Each month we ask ourselves the same questions: Does Honda even want to sell these? Why do they bring them to the US at all? (they sell very well in Japan) A $40,000 mid-size Honda sedan with 13 miles of electric range is just not something Americans want...and they know it, with little to no inventory available.

Simply put, this should have been an offering from Acura. Still, we have to report the results. So, with the Honda Fit EV now selling well (when they choose to stock them), the Accord plug-in looks to take over the crown of "most anemic" selling plug-in car in the US. Still the car did pick up the Green Car Journals car of the year award - so that's something.

As for pricing, the Accord PHEV doesn't come cheap, as Honda has put a very Fusion Energi-like sticker of $38,780 on the car, which was markedly higher than consumer expectations for the car. We expect Honda to revisits incentive on the car in the near future.

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.





2015 BMW i3

The all-new, purpose built BMW i3 ( will show up around April of 2014, while the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive should arrive in late summer.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - a 25(ish) mile extended range SUV that was originally expected in January, then the Spring, then Summer...has now been pushed off until 2015 to allow for Japanese and Eurozone deliveries happening now.

We Caught A Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive Out For A Test Spin Over The Summer In The US

As for the Mercedes Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which apparently boasts a "US city" range of 115 miles. Thomas Weber, MD R&D boss says:

"In all the key criteria, this vehicle will be at least as competitive as our competitors’ models." - and by our competitors' models - he means the BMW i3. No pricing has been announced as yet, and rollout will happen in 2014, with the car going national in 2015.


BELOW: Chart of the year-to-date monthly sales by vehicle into December:

2013 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla Numbers have been included in this graph. Tesla Total US Sales Based On Quarterly Disclosures (Q1 & Q2 from filings, Q3 based on shareholder letter, and Q4 based on company estimate of half of sales out of North America) *Fiat 500e estimated based on available data.
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