Discounts Push Chevy Volt Ahead of LEAF in June EV Sales
Big discounts at Chevrolet dealerships across the U.S.—as high as $4,000 for 2013 Volts and $5,000 for 2012 Volts—helped G.M.’s range extended electric car outsell Nissan’s all-electric leaf for the month of June. Nissan sold 2,225 LEAFs last month, while Chevrolet sold 2,698 Volts. That’s 1,000 more Volts than were sold in May.
While the Chevy Volt’s discount-driven spike in sales pushed it ahead of the LEAF, don’t mistake this for a sign that LEAF sales are waning. In June, Nissan sold 100 more LEAFs than it did in May, while year to date LEAF sales sit at 9,839 units—just 16 less than Chevrolet’s year to date figure of 9,855 Volts.
Meanwhile, Toyota sold just 584 Prius Plug-in Hybrids during June, down 12.7 percent from June last year, and down 2.4 percent on the same year to date for 2012.
With its heavy discounts during June, the Chevy Volt was available for the same price as the Prius plug-in hybrid. The Toyota has extra seats and a better long-distance gas mileage when there’s nowhere to plug in, but apparently buyers preferred the 38-mile all-electric range of the Volt over the Prius’ modest 11 miles of EV driving.
In June, more than ever, automakers were keen to compete directly against one another in the plug-in marketplace, something that can only help consumers with a wider choice of cars at lower prices.
The Rest of the Field
The 2013 Ford C-Max Energi and 2013 Ford Fusion Energi occupied fifth and sixth positions on the charts with 584 and 455 sales respectively. The only other plug-in hybrid sold last month, the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid, sold just 42 units, placing it in tenth place. That low sales figure is partly due to how recent the Accord with plug was introduced in the marketplace.
Tesla is still not reporting monthly sales figures.
Regardless, total plug-in hybrid sales during June were well below total sales all-electric and extended-range electric cars, perhaps illustrating that when given the choice, consumers choose larger EV range over cars more aligned with conventional hybrid technology. In fact, some dealers completely sold out of Fit EVs in southern California, and Fiat’s 500e stock sold out for the entire 2013 model year. The numbers are not high. The Honda Fit EV sold 208 cars during June. We don’t have an exact number for 500e sales.
Ford’s attention in the past month has been focused on selling its plug-in hybrid Energi models rather than its all-electric Focus hatchback. As a consequence, only 177 Focus electrics were sold during June. Other all-electric cars: the Smart ForTwo EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Chevrolet Spark EV, sold 53, 44, and 27 units respectively. Mitsubishi managed to sell only 39 units of its i-MiEV four-seat hatchback. With tough competition from other major automakers, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has been relegated to permanent also-ran status.
In a Rising Overall Market
All in all, plug-in sales during June experienced a 12.7 percent increase compared with May, illustrating that when priced competitively, drivers will make the switch from gasoline to electric. However, it’s important to examine car sales figures across the automotive industry during the month of June. New car sales in June, across the entire market, hit a 67-month high—the highest mark since November 2007, just before the sub-prime crash.
So what does this all tell us? Electric and plug-in hybrid car sales appear to be holding their own in an increasingly optimistic marketplace, rising roughly in line with sales of non plug-in cars. However, keeping pace has required the lowering of EV prices.
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