August plug-in sales: LEAF sets all-time record, BMW i3 goes wild

Model S Leaf Volt

August plug-in sales showed a decent increase over July, and 2014 is still on track to handily beat 2013’s figure.

Sales of the industry-leading LEAF grew to 3,186 in August, the 18th consecutive monthly record, a 32% increase over August 2013, and a new all-time monthly record for any pure EV. The 2015 LEAFs are on the move – according to InsideEVs, some 4,500 units are in stock at US dealerships.

The Chevy Volt continued its steady but slow recovery – sales have increased every month this year, reaching 2,511 in August. However, that’s a far cry from August 2013, when the Volt set an all-time monthly record with 3,351 sales. This year’s sales are almost certain to fall short of 2013’s. Overall, the future for the trendsetting PHEV looks bright – the next-generation 2016 Volt will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January, and the company plans to revamp its marketing efforts, enlisting existing Volt owners as “evangelists,” something that EV advocates have long recommended.

Ford’s plug-ins seldom make headlines, but they’re a force to be reckoned with. The country’s third-best-selling plug-in, the Fusion Energi, sold 1,222 units in August, about the same as in July. Sales of the C-Max Energi surged to 1,050, its second-highest monthly total ever. The Focus Electric continued its steady progress, setting a new monthly record with 264 sales.

The BMW i3 broke out this month. The classy city car went on sale in the US in May, racked up respectable early sales in the 300s for three months, then sold a whopping 1,025 in August. The company is moving full speed ahead on the infrastructure front, introducing its own branded DC fast charger, as well as a program that rewards i3 buyers with free public charging and a card that works across several charging networks, a variation of the strategy that seems to be working well for Nissan. The i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe went on sale this month, and we’re expecting great things.

It’s anybody’s guess what’s going on with the Toyota Prius Plug-In. After setting an all-time monthly record in May, its sales have steadily declined since, to a paltry 818 units in August, the lowest showing since January, and less than half of August 2013’s figure. Meanwhile, Toyota’s August monthly sales for all models were the highest in history.

Is Toyota losing interest in its plug-in Prius? According to InsideEVs, the company has less than 100 2015 PPIs at US dealerships and, according to Consumer Reports, some of those dealers actively discourage buyers from considering it (see the June/July issue of Charged). Meanwhile, Toyota executives are saying that the future lies with hydrogen fuel cells, not with batteries (must they choose one or the other?), Lexus is running ads trashing EVs, and the latest ad for the PPI touts the fact that you don’t really need to plug it in.

Tesla doesn’t report monthly sales, but InsideEVs estimates that 600 Model S were sold in the US in August, as the company sent a lot of cars to Asia, at the expense of US deliveries, and shut down production for a couple of weeks in order to gear up for the Model X. The company’s stock price soared as it announced a partnership to install charging stations in China, and confirmed a site in Nevada for the Gigafactory.

The Mercedes B-Class ED sold 51 units in its second month on the market. Is this a worthy competitor for the i3, and what are Daimler’s plans for its new EV? Check out our cover story on the electric Benz in the next issue of Charged.

The luxury Cadillac ELR moved 196 units in August, a respectable number for what GM has always said would be a low-volume model.

 

Source: InsideEVs