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December 2012: best month ever for plug-in vehicle sales

Even as the mainstream press continues to insist that no one is buying plug-in vehicles, December set a new monthly sales record, as the three market leaders continue to battle for the top spot, and a couple of new entrants posted impressive early results. 

The Chevrolet Volt rebounded from a weak November to sell 2,633 units in December, for a yearly total of 23,461 Volts for 2012, a 205% increase over 2011 sales. Take that, hydrocarbon-guzzling naysayers! GM’s factory in Hamtramck, Michigan, where the Volt is produced, reopened on January 2 after an extended holiday shutdown, and inventories around the country remain low.

In second place for the month, the Nissan LEAF moved 1,489 units in December, bringing its yearly total to 9,819. Nissan has been offering hefty discounts in order to clear out the 2012 LEAFs and make room for an improved model that is now being built in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Toyota found homes for 1,361 of its Prius Plug-Ins, which were introduced this year, for a 2012 total of 12,750.

The year’s most talked-about new EV, the Tesla Model S, has been collecting rave reviews from Motor Trend, Consumer Reports and others, as the company struggles to ramp up production and clear a backlog of orders. Tesla does not provide monthly sales figures, but insideEVs.com, working from SEC filings, factory reports and other data, estimates that Tesla delivered around 1,500 cars in December, bringing the yearly total to about 2,300.

Fisker also does not report monthly sales, but founder Henrik Fisker said in November that a total of around 2,000 Karmas had been sold.

Ford’s new C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid hatchback did 971 units in December, after an impressive 1,259 in November, its first full month on the market. Yes, Ford also makes a pure electric vehicle, the Focus Electric, but the company’s marketing strategy is “hybrids first,” so it’s the C-MAX (and soon, the Fusion Energi) that it is parading at the ball. Nevertheless, Cinderella sold 167 units in December, for a half-decent yearly total of 685.

The coming year promises to bring bigger and better things – two new PHEVs, the Ford Fusion Energi and the Accord Plug-in Hybrid, are scheduled to go on the market in January, and BMW, Chevrolet, Mitsubishi and VW have all more or less promised new plug-in models for later in 2013.


Images: Nissan, Toyota UK, Ford, GM
Sources: InsideEVs

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