October plug-in sales: Toyota (or Ford?) snatches the lead

Model S Leaf Volt

The three front-runners in the plug-in sales race are swapping some major paint – Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid edged into the lead with 2,095 sales for the month of October. Sales of the PPI have soared over the past three months after languishing in triple digits earlier in the year. It now looks likely that 2013 sales will beat 2012 after all.

The Chevy Volt sold 2,022 units in October, which was an improvement over September, but the year-to-date tally is falling short of 2012’s stellar sales. Most of the Volts being sold are 2013 models, which GM seems to have overproduced. It will be interesting to see what happens when the 2014s, with their reduced MSRP, start moving.

The Nissan LEAF is neck-and-neck with the Volt at 2,002 units. The pure EV has had a fantastic year, and sales are on track to more than double 2012’s figure. According to InsideEVs, capacity at Nissan’s Tennessee plant has been held back by electrode supply constraints, but as of October, the company succeeded in increasing production to around 2,700 units per month.

The big news of the month is that Ford is actually in the lead – if you’re keeping score in terms of companies instead of individual models. Together, Ford’s Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi sold 2,179 vehicles in October, accounting for 34 percent of the total plug-in hybrid market. It’s an all-time monthly record for Ford, and a 45 percent increase over September. PHEVs in general are having a great year – total sales are up 32 percent year-to-date. Ford notes that plug-in fever is slowly starting to spread – California is still by far the biggest market, but sales are strengthening in the midwestern and eastern regions.

Ford’s pure electric offering, the Focus Electric, continues to creep around the track – it sold 115 units in October, a tiny increase over September.

Tesla doesn’t report monthly sales, but InsideEVs estimates that it sold around 800 Model S in October. Hard figures will be available when the company releases its next quarterly report after the bell on Tuesday, November 5. Tesla has been ramping up European deliveries over the past couple of months, with spectacular results in Norway, where Model S was the top-selling car of any kind for the month of September. Tesla’s now making a big push in Germany, but it’s far too early to tell how sales there are stacking up.

A few months ago, a trio of small and cute EVs went on the market, and many predicted that sales would take off. That hasn’t happened – the smart ED, Chevy Spark EV and Fiat 500e each saw monthly sales decline in October, from already unimpressive levels.

 

Source: Ford, GM, Nissan, InsideEVs