2014 was another year of steady growth for EV sales. Some 12,874 plug-ins were sold in the US in December, a healthy gain compared to December 2013. For the full year, sales are up 23%.
The Tesla Model S passed the LEAF and Volt to slide into the lead (doubtless thanks to the new P85D’s 864 pound-feet of torque). InsideEVs estimated that 3,500 Model S found new homes in December. Of course, this is unlikely to signal a trend – Tesla’s monthly figures have more to do with the way the company allocates deliveries among different markets than with shifts in demand.
The Nissan LEAF sold 3,102 units in December, the 23nd consecutive monthly record, and a 23% increase over December 2013. For the year, Nissan sold 30,200 LEAFs, an all-time record for any plug-in. “Now in its fifth model year, Nissan LEAF is more popular than ever and continues to bring new buyers to Nissan,” said Nissan EV Director Brendan Jones. “From the beginning our vision was to bring electric vehicles to the mass market in a practical and fun-to-drive package, which is what makes Nissan LEAF the best-selling electric car in the world.”
Volt sales grew slightly to 1,490 in December, but yearly sales (18,805) are lower than 2013’s (23,094) giving the Volt the dubious distinction of being the only major plug-in model that has seen sales decline from year to year. The next-generation 2016 Volt will debut at the Detroit auto show in January, with a larger gas engine, longer electric range and several improvements to the charging features.
The BMW i3 held onto fourth position – after faltering a bit in November, sales rebounded to 1,013 in December. An industry consultant who recently took apart an i3 to see what makes it tick estimates that the vehicle could be profitable at a volume of about 20,000 per year – a level that BMW seems well on the way to reaching.
Sales of Ford’s two PHEVs were basically flat in December, although both posted impressive gains on an annual basis. Sales of the Fusion Energi (789) and C-Max Energi (659) were both up a tiny bit compared to November, but monthly sales are far short of the four-digit figures they were hitting in the summer. Ford’s pure electric stepchild, the Focus Electric, inexplicably saw its sales collapse to 53, after two years of respectable triple-digit monthly sales.
The Prius Plug-In isn’t dead yet – it saw sales of 492 in December, a small increase over November, but little more than half of the December 2013 figure.
Sales of the Smart ED continue to grow – it set a new monthly record in December, selling 351 units.
There’s hopeful news from two recent entrants to the market. It’s too early to tell if the Mercedes B-Class ED and the VW e-Golf are just a couple more compliance cars, or if their makers are serious about selling some, but so far things are moving in the right direction. Both have seen increases every month since going on sale. The B-Class ED sold 326 in December, and the e-Golf sold 237.
On the other hand, a couple of models have seen their last Christmases. The Toyota RAV4 EV and Honda Fit EV compliance cars have been discontinued (although a few may remain on dealers’ lots). The Mitsubishi i-MiEV seems likely to follow soon (in the US, that is – it will continue to be sold in Europe and Japan).