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Electric Car Sales Increased 228.88% In 2013 (US EV & Hybrid Sales Update)

Hybrid and electric car sales for December and 2013 as a whole have all finally come in. You can see the specific numbers above, as well as a chart showing the leading models (for Dec 2013, Dec 2012, all of 2013, and all of 2012). When you’re done having fun with the interactive chart above, below is my commentary on December sales and 2013 sales as a whole.

The big, overall news is that 100% electric car sales increased 228.88% in 2013 compared to 2012. To a lesser extent — but still notable growth — plug-in hybrid electric sales increased 26.87% in that time period. In the end, annual sales of 100% electric cars (46,148) nearly reached annual sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (48,951).

As I wrote a couple days ago, one of the biggest stories of the year was the sales “rivalry” between the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt that kicked into gear when the price of the Nissan Leaf dropped by $6,400 thanks to US manufacturing starting up. To read about that rivalry, click the link above.

If you exclude conventional hybrid electric vehicles (which I actually plan to do in these monthly sales reports in 2014 — since conventional hybrids simply don’t have the benefits of plug-in cars), there are only a handful of models that are really worth looking at right now (in terms of sales). Aside from the Nissan Leaf & Chevy Volt, they are: the Tesla Model S, the Toyota Prius Plug-in, and Ford’s two Energi models. Sales for other plug-in cars drop off very steeply after that.

The Tesla Model S sold quite well in 2013, especially considering that it’s a luxury/performance sedan. As with the Nissan Leaf (well, even more so), its sales were limited by supply rather than demand. Battery production, and production of some other parts, needs to ramp up a bit, but it’s getting there.

Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in sales each dropped slightly in 2013 compared to 2012, but that is most likely due to increasing competition. Sale of the Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi started at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, respectively. These vehicles have done quite well, and they surely took sales away from those previously released PHEVs from Chevy & Toyota. Combined, over 15,000 Ford Energi vehicles were sold in 2013, more than the Toyota Prius Plug-in.

Furthermore, while not all Chevy Volt/Toyota Prius Plug-in buyers would consider the Nissan Leaf, and not all Nissan Leaf buyers would consider the Chevy Volt/Toyota Prius Plug-in, they are similar enough that I’m sure the big Nissan Leaf price drop last year lured away some potential PHEV customers.

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That’s primarily my take on plug-in car sales for 2013 as a whole as well as December 2013 — the trends were basically the same for both. However, there is one last point that I would like to make. The reason many of the other plug-in cars are seeing low sales is not because they are poor options — they are seeing low sales because their sales markets and overall production have been severely limited. It’s deceiving, and it keeps plug-in car sales artificially lower than they would be if manufacturers treated them seriously.

2014 is going to be a big year for electric cars. New models such as the BMW i3, VW e-Golf, Tesla Model X, and Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric Drive are going to bring the game up to another level, as will increasing production capacity for the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf. Manufacturers who are very late to the EV game (that is, in getting serious about this market) are going to suffer.

Electric Car Sales