November 2013 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
Despite a relatively muted first half of the year, electric vehicle sales have been surging since August – a record month when over 11,000 plug-ins were sold. Previous to November, the 2nd best result was posted as 9,695 vehicles were sold.
In fact, 36,600+ EVs have been sold so far in the first 4 months of this half, which is only about 4,000 shy of the January to June period (40,847). Given that the tax implications of the $7,500 federal tax credit putting pressure on would-be buyers of electric vehicles, both November and December should continue this strong trend to close out the year.
Unfortunately, inventory problems for last month’s biggest three selling models (Toyota Prus PHV, Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF) have limited sales numbers in November despite that demand. November ended with about 8,700 plug-ins sold.
For the month, the burning questions are:
- Is it possible for Ford to out due its previous month results for the 10th time in 11 months? (answer: almost, but not quite)
- Toyota crested the 2,000-mark for sales for the first time ever in October on the Prius PHV – can it be done again without any dealer inventory left? (answer: nope)
- Will Chevrolet build enough Volts to satisfy “Christmas” customers as Cadillac ELR production gets underway (answer: doesn’t look like it)
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: 12:30 pm December 5th , 2013)
Chevrolet Volt: Despite five weekends contained in this sales month, just 1,920 Volts were sold in November. (full story here)
Previously in October, 2,022 Volts were sold after a bit a shaky September in which only 1,766 were moved off dealer lots.
Thankfully for GM on the year-over-year numbers they are up against a fairly weak November of 2012 when only 1,519 cars were sold. Overall GM has sold 20,702 Volts, as compared to 20,828 in 2012 – down fractionally at .6%
Over the summer – in August, the Volt shattered not only their own personal best monthly result, but the entire industry’s selling month with 3,351 cars sold. Moving the sales needle overall was a August 6th announcement that the new 2014 Volt would receive a $5,000 drop in the MSRP over the outgoing 2013 model (which lowered the starting price to $34,995).
Looking ahead it is going to be difficult to match the December 2012 result of 2,633 Volts sold, as basically what we predicted out of Chevy as far as production of the 2014 Chevrolet Volt to end out the year has come true.
Nutshell: GM is not making enough Volts to have a reasonable inventory across the US. Like what happened in 2012, we predict GM’s marketing department will once again have to come forward to explain low sales as a result of poor inventory control. Overall inventory of the Volt nationwide has been allowed to fall to yearly lows despite being the busiest season.
Little more than 2,000 2014 Volts are currently on dealer lots – and GM faces not only Cadillac ELR production displacing Volt production in December at the Hamtramck, Michigan facility, but also an extended holiday shutdown.
Chevrolet needs to sell 2,759 Volts next month to avoid being the first plug-in vehicle to report lower year-over-year sales since the “next generation” of plug-ins hit the market in 2010. In 2012, 23,461 cars were sold. (Toyota is also in a similar situation with little Prius PHV inventory available to sell)
Nissan LEAF: In November 2,003 LEAFs were sold – which is only 1 more car than then in October. (full story here)
Nissan continues to be the most consistent selling electric vehicle in the US, as November is the 9th month in a row around the 2,000 units sold mark.
Overall, 20,081 LEAFs have been sold in 2013, which is an improvement of 140% from 2012 when 8,330 all-electric Nissans were bought.
InsideEVs has learned that Nissan decided to up US made production of the LEAF up to around 2,700 units per month last spring – but those changes would not fully take effect until this fall, and increasing inventory was actually seen at the dealership level in November – but in a muted way.
Nissan now says full production may not actually arrive until the December/January … so given recent slippage, we look forward to full inventories sometime in March.
Nissan ended the month with right around 3,000 LEAFs available at dealerships – almost 50% of that inventory was of the more inexpensive S trim level that starts at $28,000, with a little over 20% being the high end SL variety.
2014 LEAFs are in production now and should hit US dealerships in December – no word on pricing as of yet, but is expected shortly
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales…so we never know for 100% 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 Europe…so no one freak out when US sales don’t match total production from here on out.
While putting a number on ongoing demand in the US is not easy, but we feel relatively confident it currently lies in the 700-1,100 unit range per month.
However, that is NOT the estimated sales range for November and December as Tesla buyers are NOTHING like buyers of other EVs.
Simply put, about 80% of all electric vehicles (not named Tesla) are leased, and as such potential owner don’t give two figs (technical term) about when the calendar tax year ends and when they can realize the $7,500 federal credit. As Tesla currently offers no leasing in the traditional sense, the great bulk of Tesla buyers do care…and those dollar sensitive buyers are being pushed off the fence in November and December.
We estimate 1,200 Model S sedans were sold in November as Tesla tries to balance US demand with European deliveries.
(*) Model S sales estimates are given representative of North American sales, which include Canada.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: Holy cow! It’s a new plug-in offering!
That being said, only 4 Panamera S E-Hybrids were sold in November – but we expect this number to rise soon.
This time…and for the first time ever, the Tesla Model S actually has an electric vehicle to compete with (sorta) in the luxury plug-in segment; although the Porsche only has 20 miles* of electric power until the gas engine takes over.
What we can tell you is that about a dozen S E-Hybrids are on dealer lots at the moment.
Going forward, it is estimated that the plug-in may account for 10%-15% of all Panamera sales – which generally amount to about 500 per month so far in 2013. 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.
(*- NEDC rating. EPA rating will be released in December, expected to be about 15 miles)
Chevrolet SPARK EV: Sales improved in November as 87 units were moved off California and Oregon lots – a 32% increase over October
Previously 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 into any monthly number too much as GM once again provided little to no new inventory on the EV this month – less than 200 units were available to end out November.
Consistency is really the name of the compliance game with GM and the Spark EV – 102 cars were sold in August after selling 103 units in the car’s first month on the market in July.
The success or failure of the Spark EV can not really be judged in the US by sales…at least not yet as GM is setting the pace of sales by not only limiting the states it is offered (California and Oregon), but also the inventory levels.
It has been reported (when the EV went on sale last month in South Korea) that only about 1,000 have been made to date for the US market, of which nearly half have been sold.
In fact, during October InsideEVs learned exclusively from Chevy directly 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.
About the Spark EV: GM’s compact EV has a 82 mile range (EPA rated) and has just been priced by GM at a competitive $27,495, about $1,400 less than the new entry level, S Model LEAF offered by Nissan. A $199/month lease is also available from launch. Reviews (like this one) of the little electric Chevy has widely been positive since the car has been available for testing…we guess it has something to do with the 400 lb-ft of torque on tap – nothing like having some acceleration in a affordable EV past 50 mph.
We figure that any 3-digit number probably satisfies GM’s internal projections for the car.
Fisker Karma: We are DELIGHTED to say this will be the LAST month the Fisker Karma is on the monthly sales list!
In October, Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li lead a group acquiring the DoE’s 168 million debt owned by Fisker for $25 million dollars, essentially giving him and “Hybrid Technology LLC” control over Fisker.
In November he promptly put Fisker into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which meant those dealers hoping for the company to be saved – and for them to be able to return old/new 2012 Fisker Karmas to the company (as promised to them when they signed up to be Fisker dealers) was dashed.
So after a year of only being able to report an estimated 3 or 4 over-priced Fiskers being sold each month – dealers slashed 6-digit price tags (some down into the 60s), and more than a dozen were sold in the last week of the month – more than a quarter of the listed remaining inventory from October.
As for the future of the Fisker Karma, Hybrid Technology LLC spokesperson Caroline Langdale isn’t saying:
“As we continue to examine Fisker’s opportunities, we will be making decisions about the structure and footprint of the new business.”
But we have done our due diligence on the mountain of SEC filed paperwork and feel pretty confident in saying the Fisker Karma (such as it is now) will not be returning.
Fiat 500e: When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we may have another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat, which has been notoriously anti-EV is also giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.
Even still we got 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 half shaft breakage issue and a “voluntary safety recall.”
And while the initial production run in Mexico was apparently set at 491 units, more units have been made since then, and inventories are running deeper at Fiat lots.
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 400 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.
Honda Fit EV: 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.
September and August continued a familiar story at Honda as they managed to sell 35 and 66 EVs (respectively) from almost zero national inventory…literally.
So, the story continues to be: Inventory, where is the inventory?
As in…there is none – ok, actually there is 15 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.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: 2nd month ever for the little smart as 153 were sold in November as more ‘coupe’ inventory rolled in.
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.
Indeed inventory has risen to more than 300 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.
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 here.
The 2-seat Smart electric car gets 68 miles of range from a 17.6 kWh battery.
Ford Fusion Energi: For November 870 were confirmed sold by Ford, which although not their ‘best month’ ever, was still an impressive result.
Last month 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.
Also of interest, there are currently more 2014 Fusion Energis on dealer lots than 2014 Chevrolet Volts – this marks the first time in the history of the “current generation” of plug-in vehicles that the Chevrolet Volt doesn’t have the deepest inventory.
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
Toyota Prius Plug-In: Now 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 2,095…no typo there were sold October. (full story here) Amazing what a $2,010 to $4,620 price cut in MSRP can do for sales!
As mentioned above, it should be noted that impressive sales results late in 2013 have now depleted inventory of the Toyota PHV, and only about 600-odd remain available for sale into December.
October’s number is Toyota’s best ever, their previous high was set in October 2012 when 1,889 were sold.
In mid-summer we thought that going forward, it was going to be very improbable to keep up with last year’s sales pace. However, after a several solid months under Toyota’s belt, anything is now possible as Toyota has issued 10,069 plug-in Prii through October, which is up marginally over 2012.
Last year Toyota sold 12,750 plug-in Prii in the 10 months it was available. That means Toyota will need to average a little more than 1,300 sales in each of the last two months to avoid the distinction of being the first EV sold in the US to lose sales year over year. Not a great distinction to have.
Ford C-Max Energi: 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 C-Max Energi first broke out of its sales rut in August as it set a new year high…a record that only lasted one month as Ford sold 758 in September.
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.
Ford Focus Electric: Always as consistent performer, the Focus Electric sold 130 units in November.
Previously in October 115 Focus Electrics were sold, which continues a downward trend of late for the 76 miles EV.
The Focus EV is really the ‘oak tree’ of plug-in sales reporting, sure and steady; always ‘one hundred and something’ sales results…you could almost set your watch to it. Previously in September, 110 all-electric Fords were sold.
Taking October into account, 12 out of the last 13 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!
Toyota RAV4 EV: The RAV4 EV cooled off a little in November as Toyota logged 62 more copies sold.
Previously in October 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 the last 4 months in selling their CARB compliance SUV. 167 were sold previously in September – the second best result for the electric SUV since it went on sale.
Like its sister Prius, the RAV4 EV set a new high for 2013 in August, when 231 were sold.
To bump 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 – unlimited mileage leases.
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 – but a few more months like August and September we force us to change our minds.
Predictions for sales in Decemeber? No way, who knows what deal is (or isn’t) coming from Toyota in the next 30 days.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Mitsubishi says year-to date sales are up 99.2% year to date over 2012, which thanks to uber-l33t math skills mean 12 i-MiEVs were sold in November
Continuing the steady, but low trend that is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Previously sales for October came in at 28 units, after selling 20 in September and 30 in August.
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 return of the 2014 i-MiEV in the late spring from $22,995!
$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 here!
Honda Accord Plug-In: 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 would be an understatement. For September, Honda sold 51 electric Accords.
Practically speaking, the Accord plug-in is the anti-Fit EV, they just can’t sell these things – previously in August 44 were moved off Honda lots.
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? 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.
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 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.
Cadillac ELR: January of 2014 is expected to see the debut of the 35 mile extended range Cadillac ELR, but at a price most “looking to upgrade” Volt owners will cringe at, starting from $75,995. /ouch
After the ELR, a foot race of sorts will occur between the all-new, purpose built BMW i3 (all the details on that can be found here) and the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – a 25(ish) mile extended range SUV that was originally expected in January, then the Spring, then Summer…has apparently now been pushed off until 2015 to allow for Japanese and Eurozone deliveries happening now.
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, rollout to happen regionally in the summer of 2014.
BELOW: Chart of the year-to-date monthly sales by vehicle