Despite a challenge by upstarts with cords, the Toyota Prius remains the unofficial car of green-ness. What's sometimes difficult to remember is that the car has been on the market for over a decade, so it's nowhere near an overnight success. We're not sure if we'll ever see the day when half of Santa Monica is driving around in Nissan Leaf electric vehicles, but at least one publication sees history repeating itself – this time with plug-ins in the Prius role.

A new article in Scientific American downplays worries that sales of plug-ins such as the Leaf and Chevrolet Volt have been disappointing. In fact, the publication says electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are "on track or doing better" than hybrid sales were at the same stage of market introduction.

"We are seeing impressive year-on-year sales, declining battery costs, a decarbonizing power sector, and cities around the world committed to reducing congestion and local air pollution," writes Tali Trigg in Scientific American. Supporting the claim are the cold, hard numbers: about two years after their US introduction, both the Leaf and Volt are selling at almost twice the pace as the Prius did two years after it debuted in the States. And such plug-in numbers, which more than doubled to about 120,000 units worldwide last year, may surge further as volume production rises and battery costs fall.


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  • 19 Comments
      • 1 Day Ago
      Please see the following for an analysis of plug-in electric vehicle sales, which may not be as disappointing as you might think, based on realistic expectations. Plug-in electric vehicle sales are outpacing hybrids when they were introduced in 1999-2001, the Chevy Volt is outselling half of the vehicles on the market (many vehicles are sold at low volumes), and plug-in sales have tripled from 2011 to 2012 (though from a small base). http://luskin.ucla.edu/blogs/p... Specifically in response to the radio piece, a couple of points: 1) January sales were expected to drop (as they did last January), particularly because of supply constraints: i) lower production of Volts over the holidays (insufficient "refresh rate"), and ii) Nissan trying to sell out its last 900 MY2012 LEAFs as they ramp up production of the MY2013 LEAF (now made in the U.S.). 2) With over 76,000 vehicles bought by U.S. consumers from Dec 2010 through last month, they clearly can't all be going to movie stars with Bentleys. 3) The commentator said there was "no way to do it" (to characterize plug-in electric vehicle prices), but here is one way, for what it is worth: The sales-weighted average price, based on the base MSRP of known U.S. sales, is $36,900 for plug-in hybrids (like the Volt) and roughly $39,800 for all-battery electric vehicles (like the LEAF and Model S).
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 1 Day Ago
      The Volt has done it's job. For the most part people who would never purchase a EV buy Volts and learn that EV's will work for them. They are hybrids if they burn gas, period. How do you like dragging that extra 1000 lbs of unnecessary weight every where you go. Calling a hybrid a EV is exactly the confusion that GM planned for ignorant Americans. Rating these hybrids higher than a EV in mpg'se is the best thing the ICE manufactures came up with since calling a hybrid a EV. What a crock of bull?
      purrpullberra
      • 1 Day Ago
      Good news. The shrill anti-ev folks can't argue with this, just deny. Which is their favorite flavor of rhetoric. But it is otherwise unassailable.
      • 1 Day Ago
      My bad, folks. Please disregard my last comment, which was meant for another place. Rookie mistake, and I apologize.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      This is the correct attitude to have. Forget those over-optimistic sales projections from Nissan and GM. Everyone knows that such projections are just wild guesses. However, they were over-optimistic guesses considering the high up-front prices of these vehicles. And the "tight" oil boom caught a lot of people by surprise. But that said, the plug-ins are selling much better than many said they would. Many claimed they would be dead on arrival. But they've found niche. We've learned that PHEVs are more popular than pure EVs for now. Price have come down a little bit. More and more car makers are offering plug-in models. There is no question that it will be a long hard slog. But there is no turning back and no other viable alternative currently available.
      Grendal
      • 1 Day Ago
      I think you're preaching to the chior here at ABG. We also see the momentum of plug-ins increasing. Hopefully electric is the way of the future. It's the only alternative that allows for greater efficiency and decreased emissions. It also allows for a wide range of energy generation from horribly dirty to ultra clean. Nothing else give you that flexibility and benefits.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Grendal
        "It's the only alternative that allows for greater efficiency and decreased emissions. It also allows for a wide range of energy generation from horribly dirty to ultra clean. Nothing else give you that flexibility and benefits." You're ignoring hydrogen, of course.
          archos
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Let see. We could power 3 EVs directly, or synthesize some hydrogen for 1 FCV. Scientific impossibility for hydrogen to be more efficient, unless water4gas has worked the kinks out.
          ElectricAvenue
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Hydrogen does not allow for greater efficiency AND decreased emissions. You get to pick one of the two. If hydrogen is generated by electrolysis, then you're throwing half of the energy away right at the start. If it's generated from fossil fuels, ...
          Ernie Dunbar
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I was going to reply until I saw your username. You're completely immune to reason. Forget it.
        purrpullberra
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Grendal
        yep, is this on AB? I haven't been yet. That's where this should be.
          GR
          • 1 Day Ago
          @purrpullberra
          @purrpullberra I agree but I think the AB readers would STILL find something negative to say about this.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      Yes, a fuel cell car is an electric vehicle. It is not a battery electric vehicle but it runs on electricity provided to the motor.
      Donny Hoover
      • 1 Day Ago
      I'd love to do that! Unfortunately, most of the mileage I rack up right now is long distance and out of EV range but maybe some day. Maybe I'll get the panels right now anyway and just not have an electric bill :)
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Day Ago
      Hybrids let you drive further on a gallon of gas. If the price of gas goes up you still pay more at the pump. Plugins let you switch to an entirely different energy source. So if the price of gas goes up, who cares!?
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        And if you are worried about the price of electricity then throw some solar PV panels up on your roof and lock in the price of your 'fuel' for the next 25 years.
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 1 Day Ago
      When EV's get to 150 miles range in the city and approx 120 miles at 55 they will attract many more people. Leave it to Nissan to do this as Ford, GM and Chrysler are happy to follow in the EV catagory. Anything that burns gas is not a EV no matter what GM says.
        Carguy
        • 1 Day Ago
        @EVSUPERHERO
        I disagree with the assertion that the Volt is not an EV. I have a pure EV (BMW Active E) and I leased a Volt for my wife four months ago - we just bought three (yes three) gallons of gas for the Volt and it was delivered with 5 gallons of gas in the tank. So I'd say 4K miles on 3 gallons of gas is pretty amazing. The Volt proves what people will learn when they actually buy these cars most people don't drive more than 40 miles per day.
      ElectricAvenue
      • 1 Day Ago
      If "electric vehicle" is to mean anything, the Volt is NOT an EV. Would you call a fuel cell car an EV? The Volt has all the same equipment as an EV, but so too does a fuel cell car. It's an electric car plus all the equipment required to power the batteries and/or motor. I am not against the Volt, but, come on, look at the contradiction in your own posting. You say that the Volt is an EV, and then you describe buying gasoline for it.
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