Year-end EV sales figures: the winner is…

As major EV makers announced their 2011 sales figures today, it appears that the Japanese beat the home team by a nose – Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs, and Chevy delivered 7,671 Volts.

 

As major EV makers announced their 2011 sales figures today, it appears that the Japanese beat the home team by a nose – Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs, and Chevy delivered 7,671 Volts. Mitsubishi and Ford brought EVs to market in December, and each delivered a handful. No figures were available for Fisker or Tesla.

So, what does it all mean? We’re sure that in Yokohama and at the Renaissance Center, they’re popping champagne and patting backs – at least while the press is watching – while over on the right side of the AM dial, they’re scoffing at such an abysmal failure. More sober observers realize that one year is too short a time to draw any conclusions one way or the other in the automotive business.

However, we would be blameworthy if we omitted a few encouraging figures. As EV sage John Voelcker pointed out, both Leaf and Volt sold more units during their first year on the market than did either the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. And the 17,000 plug-in cars that sold in the US amount to almost three times as many as were sold in the entire previous EV era of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Outside of the US, sales were stronger. According to EVs Roll, 60,000 cars with cords hit the planet’s roads in 2011, to say nothing of 165,000 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles and 29 million electric motorcycles and bicycles.

Also in 2011, as followers of our blog know, operators of commercial fleets around the world began systematically replacing their dinosaur burners with EVs. For them, with predictable routes and central charging locations, it’s a simple calculation, and many are finding that EVs will pay for themselves in a few years.

 

Images: Chevrolet, Nissan