Sales of Plug-in Cars Dip in September
Sales of electric vehicles in September were bound to drop after a record-breaking August, and that’s what happened. General Motors reported a precipitous drop in Volt sales—down from 3,351 units August to 1,766 cars in September. The number of LEAFs driven off dealership lots also declined—from 2,420 sales in August to 1,953 electric cars sales last month.
Does it mean the plug-in car market has lost its momentum? Of course not. Not any more than August sales indicated that EVs have reached critical mass. The market, by my most measures, is still young with expected fluctuations in sales for any particular month. For example, GM had a big month in August because it came right after the price of its plug-in hybrid was cut by $5,000.
The key metric, perhaps, is year-to-date sales. Volt sales in 2013, for the first nine months, are up 2.5 percent. The increase is modest, and raises some concerns about how the rest of the year will turn out. “It was a slower month for the EV market overall,” GM spokeswoman Michelle Malcho told The Detroit News. GM has a 47-day supply of Volts nationwide.
On the other hand, September sales of the Nissan LEAF yielded a nine-month total of 16,076 units—more than triple the volume compared to the first nine months of 2012. Nissan appears to be growing the market by developing previously untapped markets. "As electric vehicle sales spread from the West Coast to a new wave of markets," the company said in a release. "Sales were up in all major Texas markets as well." North Carolina is also showing strength.
The market continued to be divided between legitimate plug-in cars with decent volumes—and cars selling a couple hundred units at best. Toyota sold 167 RAV4 EVs; GM delivered 78 Spark electric cars; and sales of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV dropped to only 20 units.
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