Americans have bought more than a half-million plug-ins

This year's sales of EVs, PHEVs are up 38 percent to almost 111,000 units.

Americans have purchased more than 500,000 plug-in vehicles since the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Nissan Leaf electric vehicle made their stateside debuts in late 2010. Those are the official numbers from the US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. The better news for green-vehicle advocates is that such sales appear to be accelerating: a quarter-million EVs have been purchased in the US since mid-2014.

In fact, Americans continue to set monthly records for purchases of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Last month, automakers sold more than 16,000 plug-ins, and the past four months have each set monthly records. Since the beginning of the year, US plug-in vehicle sales have surged 38 percent from a year earlier to almost 111,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S EV has established itself as the best-selling US luxury sedan, and by a substantial margin. Of the 500,000+ sales, the Volt and Leaf make up just 203,905 of them (as of the end of September).

With automakers poised to add to the current inventory of the 27 plug-in vehicles available in the US, things should speed up from here. The two models expected to make the largest impact are the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which will hit US streets by the end of the year, and the Tesla Model 3 EV, which is slated to debut next year. In fact, LG Chem, which makes batteries for the Bolt, said in its third-quarter earnings call that it expected Chevy to move more than 30,000 units of the EV next year. Wishful thinking, maybe, but entirely possible.

For those hell-bent on nostalgia, plug-in vehicle sales averaged fewer than 400 units during their first three months of US sales in late 2010 and early 2011, so we've come a long way, baby.

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