August plug-in sales slow as LEAF, Volt and Model S jockey for the lead

Model S Leaf Volt

There’s little good news for EV-lovers this month. August US plug-in sales of 8,972 were essentially unchanged from July, and were even further behind August 2014’s figure of 12,172. There were no major position changes – most of the leading models posted minor declines or increases.

The bright spots at the moment are outside the US, where plug-in sales have been on a roll for the past year. A particular hotspot is the UK, where a fast-growing market has inspired the government to renew its popular grants for EV buyers.

The LEAF registered a slight increase this month to take a narrow lead – 1,393 units were sold in August. The new and improved 2016 LEAF should reach dealers soon, but no one can say exactly when. Nissan previously said in a press release that it would be released “nationwide in mid-September,” but later edited that sentence to read “later in the year.” In response to an inquiry from Charged, a Nissan spokesman would only reiterate that “we haven’t released any 2016 LEAF details yet.”

The Volt continues in a holding pattern – August sales of 1,380 were up a tiny tad from July.

The new Volt, which is now on its way to California dealers, is a completely redesigned vehicle with a host of impressive improvements (read an interview with two of the Volt’s main architects in the current issue of Charged).

Will the next-generation Volt tow US plug-in sales out of their months-long slump? Well, we were disappointed to learn that the nationwide launch of the 2016 Volt has been delayed from November to (probably) next February.

We’re also becoming more and more convinced that a major reason for the maddeningly slow pace of EV adoption is a lack of proper marketing, especially at the dealership level. John Voelcker of Green Car Reports addressed this point in a review of the Volt, saying that “marketing for the first-generation Volt was inconsistent…and sporadic at best. GM had better do some smart, thoughtful, memorable, and effective marketing, starting now.”

The Tesla Model S slipped into third place, with 1,300 US sales in August. The company’s latest quarterly earnings announcement included a lowered delivery target of “50,000 to 55,000” vehicles for the year. The good news is that the Model X Signature series is ready to be configured, and is expected to start deliveries on September 29.

Back in the middle of the pack, sales are holding pretty steady. Ford’s Fusion Energi had its second-best month so far this year, with 949 US sales. Both the C-MAX Energi (723) Focus EV (176) actually did set new monthly highs for the year.

BMW’s i3 (792) and Toyota’s Prius Plug-in (344) both saw slight declines in August. VW’s e-Golf (381) saw a modest increase.

Volvo’s seven-seater PSUV, the XC90 T8 Twin Engine, made its appearance on the US charts this month, selling 4 units. There may be more plug-in Volvos in the pipeline. “The SPA platform was designed specifically for electrification,” Volvo’s Jim Nichols told Charged. “All of our vehicles moving forward are going to be based on that platform, so there will be plug-in hybrid variants of every vehicle Volvo sells.”

 

Sources: InsideEVs, Green Car Reports