During the past two years, plug-in hybrid and extended range electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius Plug-In and Chevy Volt were beating battery electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV in sales volume. That changed for the first time in the first half of 2013, with battery EVs beating plug-in hybrids by thousands of units.

Green Car Reports estimated that pure electric vehicles reached approximately 20,939 units sold in the first six months of 2013 versus 18,335 plug-in hybrids and extended range Chevy Volts during that time. Electric Drive Transportation Association gave battery electric vehicles an even higher number – 22,712 sold in the first six months and the same number for the competing category as cited by Green Car Reports – 18,335. That may have something to do with estimates made on Tesla Model S sales figures, since Tesla Motors hasn't been supplying that data.

What's the difference between 2013 and previous sales figures? The Tesla Model S is the obvious answer; see AutoblogGreen's June sales figures to compare the numbers – 9,304 units sold in the first six months of this year versus zero during that time period in 2012. While it's a lot more expensive than the Nissan Leaf and and other pure EVs, Telsa has been persuasive through its "revolutionary" financing option and strong guaranteed resale values.

Nissan has played a part in the shift toward battery electrics through its aggressive pricing and financing packages this year; price wars have helped other pure EVs like the Honda Fit EV grow sales figures. The Leaf's discounts are mainly a byproduct of Nissan moving production of the Leaf from Japan to its Smyrna, TN, plant, which lowered its manufacturing costs and its sticker price. Leaf sales jumped three fold from a year ago – 9,839 units sold in the first half of 2013 versus 3,148 in the first six months of 2012, according to AutoblogGreen sales figures.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Day Ago
      So roughly 40.000 (part-time) EVs. In 6 months. This is great. just compare this number to the first volt & leaf sales in dec 2010. If the numbers continue to grow the 200.000 plug-in might whirr down the US roads soon
      Jon
      • 1 Day Ago
      True. At the same time though the Model S is doing much better on a relative basis to other vehicles in its class. Among other luxury sedans in the same price range Model S is among the best sellers. The sales of the BEVs you mentioned on the other hand are dwarfed by sales of conventional vehicles in the same class. I am not discounting the success of other BEVs though. It sure is still important to have less expensive entries in the BEV market. They just have not yet hit the value/price point that will achieve mass acceptance.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      Point taken Jon. That just shows the wisdom of the Tesla idea of starting at the top. Tesla is able to hide the high cost of the batteries in the high price of its luxury cars. And with the big battery, it can provide a long range such that the main complaint of EVs is gone and thus compete with the other cars in that class on an even footing. And when you eliminate the price and range issues, the EVs win out because they are clean, quiet, charged at home, low maintenance, fast acceleration, cheap to fuel, etc. Those luxury ICE car makers must have some big margins on their cars though!
      Jon
      • 1 Day Ago
      The difference is that Tesla is selling a car that people will want to buy. They are not trying to force a BEV into the econobox market. The car they sell can go head to head with cars at the same (or greater) price point and beat them. As the technology matures and economies of scale evolve they will work their way into lower cost markets. The way it should be.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Jon
        But the smaller battery econobox BEVs sell pretty well too. The Leaf is selling, the Fiat 500e is sold out, the Spark EV is just getting started, the Honda Fit EV is moving after the price cut. They won't sell at high prices like the Ford Focus Electric's original price but they move at the $30K minus $7500 tax-credit level.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      Yeah, Tesla is killing it. They pushed BEVs over the top. There are very compelling cases for both PHEVs and BEVs, so I'm not surprised it is a split market.
      Drew
      • 1 Day Ago
      I think Tesla is doing it right. They are so expensive but their strategy and driving range is what brings people into their showroom. The battery swap is a brilliant offer. The ordering process is a breeze and their cars simply look great. The plug-in hybrids are now almost a thing of the past and will almost certainly go the route of the EV's in the 90's. If only I have 10K to throw on a DP for a Tesla, I'd go for it. Their service stations are impeccable. I think with the right priced EV's from Tesla, they will do really well both here in the US and abroad. Tesla is THE Game changer (Fisker was a bust from the beginning).
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Drew
        Exactly, TESLA's range drops the need for a hybrid. Then the drivetrain is simplified, and you should get better reliability.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Drew
        What Tesla is doing is obviously working and working well. However, I don't see it as being very scalable unless there is a big breakthrough in battery technology/prices. You just can't build a 200+ mile EV and sell it for a price close to the price of an average gas car. But perhaps a 120 or 140 mile range would suffice?
          Drew
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Spec
          120 is far better than today's 80 (-) range, pair that with a good incentive, like low down and lease payments and it will certainly be a hit. If BMW's i3 does well, I think batteries in general will start to become affordable as more and more demand for EV cars happen. I just feel that the people who need to be driving these EV's are the ones with at least a 20 mile commute as opposed to the Beverly Hills housewives who just use it for 2 miles to get their nails done and pick up pooch from the groomers. They are a good market but does not serve the purpose of lowering our carbon footprint.
      raktmn
      • 1 Day Ago
      I don't know if either the PHEV or the EV numbers really reflect the desirability of each underlying technology. My gut feeling is that there aren't enough of either products in enough configurations and price points to really make any sweeping generalizations about PHEV's vs. EV's. Especially since pricing seems to be such a strong market driver for sales in the last 6 months.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @raktmn
        Well, they certainly reflect what is happening right now. But yeah, things may change. Actually things WILL change as new cars hit the market and new ideas (such as the BMW i3 BEVx) hit the market.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Day Ago
      BEVs are currently the better value. There are some stupidly expensive plugin hybrids out there. The price just has to come down.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I agree but many people are too scared of the 75 mile range aspect of the inexpensive EVs. If you do drive long distances, the BEVs are not very practical. And as cool as the Volt is, it doesn't seem efficient to lug around both a big battery and a big engine. I wonder if the new BEVx architecture of the BMW i3 will succeed and if anyone else will copy that idea. I must say that I'm quite interested in it. I wouldn't mind having a small 2-cylinder ICE around for the few times I need it but 95% of the time I wouldn't use it.
      Drew
      • 1 Day Ago
      I have been approved for a Honda Fit EV and still have not received a call regarding availability of the car. Honda is either stalling or does not want to deliver or their dealerships are hawking it to other customers who would want to pay a premium (I am just assuming). It is so frustrating to read reports about "EV's on the Rise..." I see a lot of Nissan Leaf (leaves?) and Tesla cars on the road and have not seen a single Honda Fit EV and I live in Los Angeles where supposedly most of the Honda Fit EV's have been leased.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Drew
        Well, when the slashed the price from $389 down to $249, apparently they got a surge of orders that overwhelmed them such that they have a waiting list now. So they might be waiting for more cars to be shipped.
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