Plug-in sales settle back in September

After setting a new monthly record (11,073) in August, plug-in sales retrenched in September. The month’s total of 8,027 was still the third best of the year, and the fourth best of all time.

Plug-ins’ lower September sales reflected the larger market – overall US auto sales were down  4% compared to September 2012, partly due to a calendar quirk that shifted Labor Day weekend sales to August.

The Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF continued their pattern of trading the lead back and forth – the LEAF was back in front in September with 1,953 sales. According to InsideEVs, Nissan’s production capacity is unable to meet demand – its supply of electrodes is a major constraint – and the company plans to increase production at its Smyrna, Tennessee plant to around 2,700 units per month.

Unsurprisingly, the Volt’s September sales (1,766) saw a huge drop from August’s record-shattering numbers (3,351). That stellar figure was probably largely due to blowout deals designed to clear the 2013 models of dealer lots, and seems unlikely to be repeated soon. Year-to-date Volt sales are up around 2.5% over 2012.

In third place, Toyota’s Prius Plug-In is looking strong. Though sharply down from August, September’s score of 1,152 is its second-best monthly figure ever, and far above its lackluster levels earlier in the year. Still, Toyota will have to sell around 1,500 per month if it hopes to see a year-on-year increase.

Tesla’s Model S sold around 1,000 units, according to InsideEVs’ estimate. The company’s delivery pipeline is speeding up, with some customers receiving their cars in well under a month, and deliveries have begun in nine European countries.

The stars of the month are Ford’s two PHEVs. The C-MAX Energi (758) and Fusion Energi (750) were the only models to increase sales over August, both setting new yearly highs and continuing steady sales growth. In fact, Ford as a whole has been seeing spectacular success – it was the only major automaker to post a decent sales gain this month, and is now within striking distance of GM’s title as the top-selling US brand. Sales of the legacy gas Fusion are up 62%. Ford’s pure EV, the Focus Electric, is doing less well – September sales shrank to 110 units.

The smart ED and Toyota RAV4 EV each stayed in the game with sales a little over 100, while the Chevy Spark EV and Fiat 500e both dropped back into two-digit territory.

 

Source: InsideEVs, AP