Break out the Champagne! August was the best month ever for US plug-in vehicle sales, as 11,073 new owners got charged. Year-to-date sales (58,662) have already surpassed sales for all of 2012 (52,581). The surge was broad and deep – the three leading models had huge increases, the top two set new records, and even the cars at the back of the pack showed gains. Inexplicably however, people are still buying legacy gas-burners – overall US auto sales reached a six-year high.
The Chevrolet Volt vaulted into a solid first place, selling 3,351 units and handily beating the previous monthly record of 2,961, which was set in October 2012. Chevy dealers have been offering heavy discounts on the 2013 Volts. In early August, GM announced a $5,000 drop in the MSRP of the 2014 Volt, which seems to have set off a stampede. Volt sales are up 11% over 2012.
The Nissan LEAF also set a new monthly record, moving 2,420 cars – sales are up 253% compared to 2012.
The big upset of the month was the third-place Toyota Prius Plug-In, which more than doubled its monthly sales to 1,791, its second-best month ever. After a strong start in 2012, PPI sales had languished in 2013 – no one knew exactly why, but one theory was that Ford and other plug-in sellers were helping themselves to Toyota’s lunch. We’ll see if the Japanese giant can keep it on the table – they’ll need to have stellar sales the rest of the year if they are to beat 2012’s yearly figure, and avoid becoming the first plug-in to lose sales year over year.
Tesla doesn’t release monthly sales figures, and with sales now ramping up in Europe, deliveries in the US can bob up and down from month to month. InsideEVs estimates that US Model S sales were 1,300 in August.
Ford’s two PHEVs both set new monthly records – the C-MAX Energi sold 621 and the Fusion Energi sold 600. The Focus Electric held its own, selling 175, an increase over July but not quite a new high.
Even the compliance cars were setting records this month – the Toyota RAV4 EV moved 231 units, a huge jump from its previous top score of 133. A new low-cost, unlimited mileage lease offer may be the reason for the rise.
The two new little tykes on the block turned in consistent performances. The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV sold 102 in its second full month on the market, after selling 103 in July.
The Fiat 500e, unwanted by its parents but loved by the rest of the world, sold about 160 in August, as estimated by InsideEVs. A voluntary safety recall brought things to a halt early in the month. Fiat told the NHSTA that it has built 491 of the little runabouts, which are sure to sell out before production resumes in 2014.