The good news: 2012 plug-in vehicle sales may turn out to be triple the 2011 figure. The bad news: November’s total is down a little from October, and sales of the former front-runner, the Chevy Volt, took a big hit.
The Volt sold 1,519 units in November, a steep decline from October, in which the Volt set a monthly record of 2,961. GM’s extended-range EV seems to have clinched the top spot for 2012, however, with year-to-date sales of 20,828. GM blames inventory issues for the drop. “Volt sales were modest in November due to availability in most key markets including California, our largest market,” said GM spokesperson Michele Malcho. “We had a really low daily stock for most of the month, and expect to have more Volts available in December.”
GM VP Don Johnson told the Detroit News that “dealers are just clamoring for more” in California, where inventory levels recently fell to an eight-day supply (about 23 days is the ideal level). A package of sales incentives also expired in November, which could explain part of the decrease.
Meanwhile, the Prius and the LEAF plugged along as the Volt dropped back. Toyota’s Prius Plug-in moved 1,766 units in November, a slight decline from the record 1,889 units it sold in October. Year-to-date for the PPI is 11,389 since it went on sale in February.
The Nissan LEAF did 1,539 in November, also falling short of its monthly record of 1,579 in October (but greatly improving on its November sales of 672 a year ago). Year-to-date sales for the LEAF are 8,330, and it has a good shot at beating its 2011 sales figure by year-end.
Ford’s new C-MAX Energi leapt on to the track in fourth place. The PHEV sold an impressive 1,259 units in November, its first full month on the market. Meanwhile, its neglected cousin, the Focus Electric, may just be joining the race. After several months of two-digit sales, we almost wrote off Ford’s little EV as a mere compliance car, but now we’re not so sure – it sold 172 units in November, for a year-to-date total of 518.
And then there’s Tesla, which is currently ramping up production of Model S, and working off a backlog of advance orders. The company does not release monthly sales figures, but it told shareholders in November that it plans to produce between 2,500 and 3,000 units in 2012.