Toyota, GM And Ford – Makers Of PHEVS, Hold Back September EV Sales In US

OCT 2 2014 BY JAY COLE 28

In a weird twist of circumstances, the plug-in hybrid makers (PHEV) in the United States all soiled themselves put up some unexpectedly poor results in September, and thus turning what should have been an “all-time” best selling month for EVs into a “pretty decent” month.

Nissan LEAF at the 2014 Paris Motor Show Today

Nissan LEAF at the 2014 Paris Motor Show Today

In total 10,538 plug-ins were sold in the United States, good for a 18% improvement over the 8,927 moved in 2013.

September still marked the 5th consecutive month of 5 digit sales in America, but trailed the record-setting result from May (12,053) by about 1,500 units.

Breaking down the numbers further, electric vehicles from Nissan, Tesla and BMW combined to sell an estimated 6,403 pure electric cars during the month, while the other 16 mass-produced EVs available in the US could muster just 4,135 sales.

Had the major PHEV makers in America posted even historically decent numbers for this time of year, sales should have crested 13,000 for the first time with ease.

Ford’s family of extended range plug-ins were off by over 1,300 units in September, the Chevrolet Volt fell 1,117, while Toyota collapsed, selling just 353 Prius PHVs (its all time worst result) after selling as many as 2,692 just four months ago.  (All the monthly data and specs on each model can be found on our Monthly Scorecard report here)

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals from Earnings Report (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers, Q2 7,579 total-approx reported International registrations, Q3 7,785 total deliveries ~ 3,900 US) *Fiat 500e data estimated for Jan/Feb

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals from Earnings Report (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers, Q2 7,579 total-approx reported International registrations, Q3 7,785 total deliveries ~ 3,900 US) *Fiat 500e data estimated for Jan/Feb

Some Other Points Of Interest For September 2014:

BMW Joins "Top 5" Ranks For Plug-In Automakers For The Month Of September (Picture: BMW i8 At Paris Motor Show Today)

BMW Joins “Top 5” Ranks For Plug-In Automakers For The Month Of September (Picture: BMW i8 At Paris Motor Show Today)

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Nissan – 2,881
  2. Tesla – 2,500*
  3. General Motors – 1,556
  4. Ford – 1,493
  5. BMW – 1,080 (first top in the top 5)

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In September*

  1. BEV – 6,559 – 62.2%
  2. PHEV – 3,979 – 37.8%

New Individual Yearly Highs Set In September (previous high in brackets):

  1. Tesla Model S – 2,500* (June 1,800)
  2. Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED – 65 (Aug – 51)
  3. BMW i8 – 58 (August – 8)

* – estimated

Categories: BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota


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28 Comments on "Toyota, GM And Ford – Makers Of PHEVS, Hold Back September EV Sales In US"

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Well, we know why The Prius PHV had a crappy month.. There was no inventory. I suspect the Volt is going down because everyone is waiting for Gen-2 and since Volt buyers do more research than a typical car buyer, the Osborne effect may be at play here. As for why Ford went down so much.. I’m at a loss.

I’m not sure about where you live, but it is very difficult to find a Ford PHEV here in MN.

Today Autotrader lists 4 Ford Fusion Energi and 6 Ford CMax Energis in the entire MSP metro area. (that’s about 3.5 million people).

There are ZERO Plug In Prius in our Metro area.

At least there are 39 Volts.
and 18 LEAFs.

Ford just doesn’t sell.

I bought a C Max 3 weeks ago. It has been sitting in the dealer’s garage for 5 months. That dealer had another 4 Cmax in stock when I first contact them 4 weeks ago. I checked today and found all the 4 cars are still there. I also checked another dealer, which had one C Max on labor day. Today it’s still there, with another new delivery.

I had to order mine and wait for it. But that was a while ago.

Are there any changes in lane access etc for PHEVs in sight?
That might account for reduced sales if so.

Here in California they increased the total # of PHEV SO HOV stickers from 55k to 70k (after recently increasing from 40k to 55k), so you’d think they’d at least stay constant. Beats me why Ford’s numbers should drop so much; delayed reaction to the rejiggered mpg and AER numbers? Or maybe people are waiting for the A3 E-tron and/or (SWAG) hoping that VW will bring the Golf GTE here?

I think you’re on to something. The supply of California green carpool lane stickers for plug-in hybrids ran out in September. 15,000 more will be issued due to California assembly bill AB-2013 signed into law September 21st, but the stickers won’t be issued until after Jan. 1, 2015:

You’ve nailed it.

Only 3 vehicles were affected, the Prius PHEV which dropped from 818 to 353, the Ford Fusion Energi from 1222 to 640, and the Ford C-Max Energi from 1050 to 677.

You don’t get drops like that unless something is very different, and lane access is it.

Could a slowing economy (stock market falling) + recent sharp drop in gasoline prices also have contributed to the sales decline? A lot of “borderline” PHEV buyers may feel like it is not worth the extra cost for the plug-in feature. Buy a Cruze instead, or a regular Prius.

Bob Lutz figured that the Volt needed $4+ per gallon gasoline to sell.

Doh! I suspect you are right that falling gas prices are the culprit.

They fell off a cliff in the space of a month.
Surely petrol prices have not dropped that much?

It think gas prices hit a tipping point to effect EV/PHEV sales. So it’s not that EV/PHEV sales track gas prices, but rather that once gas prices get to a certain point EV/PHEV sales drop like a rock. I think that price is in the low $3/gal range. And there are several gas stations with $2.99/gal cash prices in my area.

ICE fuel economy has been steadily improving over the last couple of years. In fact, some current CUV’s now get the same EPA-rated gas mileage as some compact cars from 2013!!! For instance, the 2015 Honda CRV is rated at 29 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway) with two-wheel drive, or 28 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive. The 2015 Honda CRV 2WD gets practically the same gas mileage as the 2013 Toyota Corolla, which was rated at 29 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 34 mpg highway).

That’s definitely one issue, but the effect should also be gradual. The new efficient gasoline models were not all introduced last month.

When I considered to buy my PHEV, I also compared cars like Nissan Altima, which has 38mpg hwy from EPA. If the PHEV is priced a little higher, I probably would make a different choice.

I see some gas stations in New Jersey are selling gas today for only $2.85 per gallon. Wow.

Have a look-see for yourself. You can even compare gasoline prices to crude oil prices.

I guess the PHEV buyers still “need” gas for their trips, and yes, falling gas prices and a stagnant economy might affect sales.

Ironically, the adoption of PHEVs and BEVs will reduce demand yet further, softening prices due to lower demand. Though we typically think of geopolitical reasons or production costs driving up oil/gas prices, but it is more directly related to demand. If demand is soft (fewer and more efficient miles driven), then the price drops.

It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out with any climate change “impacts” or carbon tax legislation that is likely to play into the mix too.

A lot of the drop in oil price can be attributed to the strength of the dollar, which occured due to increased stimulus in the EU.
There have been a lot of press about gas getting below $3 lately. That could weigh on the consumers decision making.
The PiP ran out of inventory after the Spring rush to get HOV stickers in CA.
Without extra incentives the news about the 2016 Volt may be slowing sales.
What are the current inventories and incentives on the Energi models?
There are a lot of factors that may have converged.

For 2014 so far BEVs are 0.48% and PHEVs are 0.27% of all USA vehicle sales. Together still under 1% of auto market … and under 0.15% of gasoline market purchases.

It’s not likely that a change of 0.1% in one segment will effect petro consumption at the pump. This compares to seeing a 10¢ change in price on a $100 purchase.

Yeah I think low gas prices did contribute. People are pretty stupid and forget that gas prices will go back up again. Maybe not soon but certainly in the lifetime of the car they buy.

Gas prices are at the calm before the storm right now – with lower prices, some of the sources that have higher production costs should shut down or stop being built/increased. This will in turn cause prices to increase again, which will then get those higher cost sources back online with time, again causing prices to slowly fall starting the cycle all over.

Those that don’t see the cyclical nature of oil prices are blind and not paying attention.

I say bring on the $15 a gallon gasoline! Add taxes to gas up the wazoo and make it excessively expensive for the average consumer.

Meanwhile, I will sit back with a beer and relax in comfort knowing that I will never pay for gas or electricity again thanks to driving my BEV and the Solar panels producing energy on my roof!

Except your beer will cost $15, because the cost to ship it to your store will be astronomical, not to mention more essential items, like food.


Note the only manufacturers that had increased sales over last month are Tesla, BMW (i8), Mercedes Benz and Porsche. See a pattern?

I noticed that as well. Not sure what “pattern” you refer to. We’ll have to see if this is a one-off issue, or if falling gas prices are having an effect on plug-in sales, or something else.

So is Sept 2014 a tipping point in BEV vs. PHEV sales?

BEV – 6,559 – 62.2%
PHEV – 3,979 – 37.8%

For 2014 calendar year the ratio sits at 50/50. Both BEV and PHEV total 43,500 so far (+/-100’s).

Check the info on Californian PHEVs not currently getting HOV access until January above.

Always go for the simple explanation! 😉

PiHV buyers do so for many reasons. I look at them as: – HOV lane access in some areas – cool technology for a discount (tax credits, etc.) – nice to cut gas usage – feelings that they are doing the right thing The number of people who fit into the above are similar to the ratio of people who may volunteer at Habitat for Humanity or their local soup kitchen. A very small portion of our humanity are buying PiHV models – many see gas prices falling and line up for the larger vehicles from the manufacturers who are not having a hard time selling them. I love my Volt. I would buy another one. I am an outlier. I do not and never did fit in the main percentages of the bell curve. As a fellow EV buyer and enthusiast, I feel somewhat alone in my community of ICE drivers. I have two neighbors with Prius. Many have SUVs, CUVs, Trucks and more. My neighbors, two people in the house, have a truck, commuter ICE, CUV, two motorcycles and large lawn mower for their 2.2 acres which they cut religiously. People will buy EVs and PiHV slow and… Read more »