September 2012 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

OCT 2 2012 BY JAY COLE 19

Another month has past, and the big question turns again to “how many plug-ins did your favorite automaker clear off their lots?”  And as it turns out, it was a good month all around for the plug-in industry.

Chevrolet had some tough comparables to go up against after an incentive laiden summer, and was up to the task.  For the pure electric vehicles lke the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S, the monthly sales bar was set pretty low, but they also cleared it with room to spare.

The list is populated as it is reported in real time by each manufacturer throughout the day.


2012 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: GM surprised the market in September by slightly besting August’s all time record (2,831).  In September GM sold 2,851 plug-ins thanks in part to very strong sales in the first half of the month.  Sales in both August and early September had been helped by some significant pressure at the dealership level to move product. (GM September sales PDF can be found here).

Currently the Volt’s Hamtramck assembly is idled for 4 weeks as GM “tools up” for the new Chevrolet Impala.  That shutdown  began the 17th of last month, and runs to October 15th.  GM says they have build up inventories to manage the demand.  In an abbreviated September, GM made 1,214 Volts for dealer inventories and orders before the shutdown, while also producing 247 of the Volt’s sister car, the Ampera. (GM production PDF can be found here)  Chevrolet has sold 16,348 Volts this year.


2012 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said much earlier this year that September’s sales would be the start of the turnaround for the LEAF.  It looks like he was right.

“…you can expect to see the sales move up dramatically starting in September.” – CEO Ghosn

September sales for Nissan were a record high for 2012, as 984 LEAFs were moved off lots.   This result was 43% better than any month prior.  Year to date:  5,212

Battery production in Smyrna, TN is now online and Nissan spokesperson, Katherine Zachery told us a few days ago that US made LEAFs (2013s) are “on track” and expected to be produced in December. There is also a report saying both a price cut and a longer range LEAF may be in store sometime in 2013.  However, while price cuts are almost assured, speculation is that model upgrades may not yet come until the fall of 2013 for model year 2014.


2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales. However, they are filing SEC reports like crazy after having cut production estimates, as well as revenue and profit (story here)

It was said that supplier issues held up the first deliveries in late August, but Tesla reported that only 255 total Model S cars had in fact been produced through Sept 23rd. Tesla hoped to build another 45 by month’s end.

Given deliveries already made in August and previously, less cars retained as demonstrators, Tesla delivered about 100-150 cars in September.


Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma:  Like Tesla, Fisker does not report monthly sales, but if you look closely, they both drop pretty big clues.

For the umpteenth time since it first announced plans to build electric, extended range cars, Fisker went to the private equity well and raised another 100 million dollars to fund the development of the upcoming Atlantic.   In so doing the company intimated that sales rose by about 150 units in the US since their last quasi-update last month. CEO Tony Posawatz had this comment yesterday on how things are progressing, “On the retail sales front, we beat our forecasts for September.”  

Separately, the Sunset and Surf, both variants of the Karma will not be helping Fisker achieve its goal of 4,000 units sold for 2012, as both were put on hiatus last month for the company to focus (conserve cash) on getting the already delayed Atlantic to market.



2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In:  Starting this past August, Toyota started to more aggressively market the plug-in Prius, both in ad campaigns and through more aggressive financing…and it paid off.

In September, Toyota sold 1,652 Prius plug-ins, which was a virtual tie for its all time best figure (Toyota sold 2 more in the car’s first full month on the market in April of this year, with 1,654 units sold).

This was the seond consecutive month of improvement for the Prius plug-in, as 1,047 were sold in August.  (7,734 have been sold to date)



2013 Honda Fit EV (in black finally…the stock blue photo was killing the article’s motif)

Honda Fit EV: Success!  Double digits achieved as Honda sells 16 Fit EVs in the month of Septemener, besting August’s 9 electric cars sold and July’s 7.

Alright, we are being a little sarcastic about Honda’s results, but honestly there isn’t much else to get excited about.  We spoke to a Honda representative shortly after the Fit EV went on sale in July, and he said the company expected to be able to move about 40 a month, so although the Fit EV is a limited run offering, September results are still below par.

Honda says it will build only 1,100 Fit EVs in total for the US market.  The Fit EV is currently on ‘sale’ in California and Oregon, but will soon expand into the northern states in 2013.



2012 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric:  Ford enjoyed (for lack of a better adjective) its second best selling month for the Focus Electric, having sold 59 EVs in September.  Only June’s performance of 89 plug-ins were better.

Ford has been reluctant to promote the Focus Electric, and primarily only builds cars directly from customer orders, so monthly sales numbers are a metric the company really does not care about, unlike the C-Max Energi, which Ford will begin selling this month at a price of $29,995* (details here)


Ruining Our “All Black” Motif Of EVs This Month Is The All New 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV



Toyota RAV4 EV: In its first partial month on the market, the $49,800, all electric, 100 mile SUV from Toyota sold a respectable 61 copies

2012 Mitsubishi i


Mitsubishi i-MiEV:  Once again Mitsubishi’s September sales started with a three, unfortunately only one more digit followed it, as Mitsu sold 36 i-MiEVs for the month.  This is the fourth month in a row that the Japanese company failed to crack the forty a month level, and it is safe to say that sales have stagnated.

Mitsubishi still insists they want to sell the car in the US market, and are determined to make it a success, but without any real marketing push (or dollars) behind the car that remains to be seen.

InsideEVs just recently completed a 10,000 mile long term test of the i-MiEV.



UPDATED:  Tuesday October 2nd @ 12:41PM

Categories: Chevrolet, Fisker / Karma, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota

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19 Comments on "September 2012 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

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Wow, I’m surprised that the Volt beat its August sales number. That’s good to hear, I hope that trend continues!

Sweet. Can’t actually get one, but whats a little technical detail like that? heeh

/thanks kdawg

Any color we like as long as it is black?

Somewhat disappointed at the Focus EV sales. It is a great car, just at $40k it is a little bit too expensive. It makes the Leaf look like a great deal. That is until one realizes that neither Nissan nor Ford warranty the capacity of the Li-ion batteries of their cars. From the 2012 Ford Focus Electric Warranty Guide, edition 2, page 11:

Note: Lithium-Ion Battery Gradual Capacity Loss
The Lithium-ion battery (EV battery) will experience gradual
capacity loss with time and use (similar to all lithium-ion batteries),
which is considered normal wear and tear. Loss of battery capacity
due to or resulting from gradual capacity loss is NOT covered under
the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. See your Owner’s Manual for
important tips on how to maximize the life and capacity of the
Lithium-ion battery.

Honestly this should have not been a “note” buried somewhere in the middle of the document, it should have been on the first page.

Wow ditto! Great to see the pick-up in Leaf sales as well. Chevrolet clearly has a winner in the Volt design and things are only going to get better for Nissan as they work out their battery issues. Tesla has orders, but are still having start-up problems. The Volt is 3,652 away from selling 20,000 for the calendar year. It looks like they will sell 20,000 a year for awhile. We saw the first 100,000 global EVs happen this year. If Ford enters the game seriously, it is conceivable to reach the first US 100,000 EVs next year. It gets here when it gets here, but September was a wow!

“The Fit EV is currently on sale in California…”
I think you mean “for lease”. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Fit EV is not for sale.

Hehe, I did put it in italics. Maybe I’ll add some ‘air quotes’ too, (=

Looks like a grand total of around 5,000 plug-ins for the month.

Not bad!

But I think it will take the next generation of plug-ins to really start moving volume as each manufacturer figures out the market.

Reduce the prices and people start buying, oh what a shocker! Granted some areas of the media don’t agree, but sure most here just think its a matter of when rather than if sales take off.

Nissan representatives stated last weekend at the Santa Monica AltCar Expo that the stories of new longer range batteries and 6.6 charging for the 2013 LEAF are NOT true. The exact quote was, “There will be no change in the 2013 model.” I hope they were misinformed or at least were saying this because they want to move current inventory of 2012 models.

Pretty impressive EREV numbers from the Prius. Very interested to see where the Ford C-Max enters the fight next month since it is a direct competitor.

I know it’s not a “real” car but around D.C. and Baltimore, MD there seems to be sales going on of the THiNK City car which seems to have a presence there. Definitely outselling the Honda Fit EV at this time (probably). Are the THiNK numbers available to report?

Not really. You could get reports, as was legally require, when THiNK went bankrupt (for the fourth time) last year, but it was bought out by a private individual (Russian fellow) that is less that forthcoming with his plans for the shell of the company.

Plans were for the company to restart production in 2012 with a refreshed Th!nk City car, but operations and production offically stopped in August of this past year. What inventory was left was/is being sold out on clearance. As of last month, a little less than 2 dozen cars will still left to go through final assembly after getting off the boat from Norway. (Of interest, only 2 workers remain in Indiana to complete that task…so its not happening all that quickly).

It looks like the PIP and Volt will be fighting it out the next 12 months for the plug-in crown…those $219/mo Leaf leases are a wild card as well…..


I know that the Volt will continue to outsell the PiP. The Volt is a much better car but Toyota has a more aggressive marketing. It is like selling a steak (Volt) against the cheap fishcake (PiP).

Don’t forget that every toothless hillbilly and right-wing pundit will continue screaming from the mountaintop (and trailer) about how horrible the Volt is, spending millions to convince people not to buy one. Shameful how Americans undermine an American company to give money to a foreign nation.

I hope you’re right, but I can’t say that I “know” that. The Volt is superior, but the Prius is well-known and cheaper.

These electric cars are more atractive to me every day… 🙂

It’s just tiny compared to your sales, but the trend in the Netherlands looks pretty good. Although less cars are sold due to teh crisis (32.000 in September 2012). The EV numbers are picking up. The numbers between brackets are the numbers of July 2012.

Chevrolet Volt 52 (20)
Opel Ampera 235 (195)
Fisker Karma 10 (6)
Nissan Leaf 13 (10)
Peugeot Ion 28 (15)
Renault Fluence 4 (0)
Tesla Roadster 1 (1)
Prius 314
Prius + 638