February plug-in sales: Volt back on top, LEAF in short supply

As overall sales continue to be slow, the Chevrolet Volt regained its title of best-selling plug-in vehicle in the US with deliveries of 1,626 units in February. It was no surprise to see a large increase over January’s meager sales of 1,140, which GM attributed to a holiday production pause. Significantly, the latest number handily beat the February 2012 figure of 1,023. A GM spokesperson said this week that the company plans to sell 36,000 Volts and Amperas worldwide in 2013.

Sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid seem to be flagging – it barely held onto second place, with February sales of 693 units, compared to 874 sold in January.

According to Nissan, inventories of the LEAF are depleted because of the shift to US production of 2013 models, which explains February’s peewee sales figure of 653 units. A company spokesman said that the assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, is now producing 2013 LEAFs, and that dealer stocks should return to normal in March or April.

Tesla doesn’t report monthly sales, a fact that seems to greatly annoy some of many automotive pundits, but such a figure wouldn’t be directly comparable to the others anyway, as the company has a backlog of orders for the Model S, and claims that 2013’s entire production run is already sold out. The company announced in a recent shareholder letter that it is now producing 400 units a week, its target production capacity.

That brings us to the “compliance cars,” vehicles that automakers are producing but not actively marketing. These include Toyota’s RAV4 EV and Honda’s Fit EV, which each sold a handful of units. Does the Mitsubishi i-MiEV fit into this category? It has been selling a respectable number in Europe and Asia, but until recently has done almost nothing in the US. In February however, it sold 337 units, following a score of 257 in January. This means that Mitsubishi has sold more i-MiEVs in the US in the last two months (594) than in all of last year (588).

Also threatening to break out of the compliance car category is the Ford Focus Electric, which sold 158 units in February, a large increase over January’s 81 units. Ford recently expanded the number of dealers that are certified to sell its plug-in models. The company’s C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid sold 334 in February.

Several new models should join the plug-in party next month. The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi is now shipping to dealers, and the company said that the first sales should be logged in March – big media events are planned in San Francisco, Los Angeles and DC. The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In theoretically went on sale on January 15th, but according to InsideEVs.com, has not yet shown up in any numbers at dealerships. The 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is scheduled to go on sale in North America in late March or early April. With a price starting at $25,000, it should be the cheapest plug-in on the US market, so things could get interesting.

 

Images: Nissan, Toyota UK, Ford, GM