Published on November 9th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Ford & Toyota Score Big Electric Car Wins

November 9th, 2013 by  

Electric cars, in general, were the winners in October 2013. However, within that overall story, I think the most notable stories of the month involved Ford & Toyota — not exactly the companies you think of when you think about electric car leaders, right?

No, neither company unleashed an electric vehicle version of LeBron James onto the world. However, each have made some notable, incremental improvements in this space and have seen significant rewards from that.

toyota prius phev

Toyota Prius PHEV
Image Credit: Toyota

First of all, the Toyota Prius PHEV was actually the top-selling plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid electric car in the US in October. That’s the first time that the Toyota Prius PHEV has claimed the top spot, unseating the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf (who have been trading spots at the top all year long). It’s quite a surprise. It does come on the back of a $4,600 Toyota Prius PHEV price cut, but I don’t think most of us in the industry expected it to surge ahead of the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf at this point in time. Surely the well known Prius brand has helped with sales. And I imagine that up-selling customers who thought they were going in to buy a conventional Toyota Prius is happening.

ford c-max energi

Ford C-Max Energi
Image Credit: Ford

Now, there is another way of looking at plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid electric car sales. And Ford wouldn’t let us forget this other vantage point. If you look at overall plug-in car sales by company, Ford actually took the top spot in October. With sales of the Ford Fusion Energi (1,087) and Ford C-MAX Energi (1,092) combined, Ford’s PHEV models hit 2,179 sales in October. That narrowly beats the month’s 2,095 Toyota Prius PHEV sales. And it accounts for 34% of the PHEV market.

Ford adds:

It is Ford’s best month ever for plug-in hybrid sales, shattering the previous record of 1,508 vehicles sold in September, a 45 percent increase. Ford’s plug-in hybrid vehicles – Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi – hit this sales milestone just one year after introduction of C-MAX Energi and less than a year since launch of Fusion Energi.

Toyota and Ford were both relative latecomers to the plug-in car market (following Nissan and GM/Chevrolet). So, it’s sort of exciting to see them both doing so well now.

Perhaps there is one more big electric car story of the month, though. Five electric car models sold over 1,000 cars each in October. Three models landed sales between 2,000 and 2,100, while Ford’s two models combined climbed just a bit above 2,100. That puts 3–5 models from 4 different car companies within very close proximity of each other. It shows how diversified the EV market has already become, and that it’s not simply 1 or 2 models leading the way anymore, but a handful or so. This is exciting. Most people probably don’t have a clue that all these plug-in electric cars are on the market, but they’ll find out before too long. 😀

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • SirSparks

    I am confused with PHEV’s I think an article by someone explaining the following values of the top makes would be in order;
    Miles on battery only
    Road speed of switchover (If this is how it works)
    gas motor drives wheels or generator only
    At what point will gas motor switch off (road speed, state of charge etc.)
    I am sure other useful comparisons could be made too.

    • allannde

      SirSparks – A general response will get you and others who have your question started. There are two kinds of plug in hybrids. One is called a PHEV and the other is called a range extended EV. Both have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. The wheels of a PHEV can be driven by either or both of the power plants. The wheels of a range extended EV are turned only (or mostly) by the electric motor, the gasoline engine serving only (or mostly) to make electricity for the electric motor. The Volt is a range extended EV. The rest are PHEVs.

      The experience of driving is not the same. The Volt is more like a pure EV. The PHEV is tuned for economy. They get better economy in comparable driving. But how you drive makes a HUGE difference. Much is made of the EV only range. The Prius PHEV is rated at 11 miles. The Ford PHEVs at about 18 miles and the Volt at about 35 miles. As a Prius PHEV owner, I do not see this a a large difference. This is because, while I use some gasoline, I use very little. It turns out that gasoline is better for heating the car and more economical for highway driving. And large EV range requires heavy batteries which are deadweight after they are drained of charge.

      You really need to look carefully at the PHEV choice and compare it to your driving needs. The Prius PHEV suits my needs best. But that might not be true for you.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Excellent comment. Thanks.

      • SirSparks

        Thank you, that helps a lot. I presume from your comments that your Prius can have the gasoline engine either drive the wheels or (and?) a generator? In what manner is that “decision” made?

        • allannde

          Hello – It automatic. The car will use the electric motor until its limits are reached and them it will add the gasoline engine to deliver the power requested until it can deliver no more. All the while, the car will attempt to keep the traction battery charged and even increase the that charge if it can. The power sharing device (which is as simple as a differential) is constantly engaged and automatically transmits either singly one or a combination of the sources of power.

          This beautifully simple car does depend upon a computer based “Hybrid Synergy” control system which has proven itself to be very reliable over the years. And the car is very economical. Since I have many short trips which are mostly EV, I am averaging 168 mpg of gasoline which includes the EV miles and simply blows me away. The electricity part (about half) costs me just over 1 cent per mile, so this is an economical car to drive for me. I expect a healthy part of the premium which paid for the car to be returned this way and I really enjoy not paying and paying for gasoline.

      • Mark Renburke

        Excellent response by allannde, but a few minor corrections required. The Prius PHEV is actually rated at just 6 miles true all-electric range, and 11 miles in electric “blended” mode, which means small amounts of gasoline would be used under peak acceleration, passing, hills, speed of 62 mph or greater, etc. to achieve ~11 miles before the battery is to it depleted or low state.

        The Ford Energi’s rating is simply 21 miles (not 18) but there’s only one rating but like the Prius it could go in to blended mode under a variety of driving circumstances (such as “flooring it” or 85 mph and higher for example).

        The Volt (2013 and newer) is EPA rated at 38 miles (not 35, that was 2011-2012) and being the EV type power train design, when charged it will NEVER use the engine as a result of driving style nor speed (up to the governed 101 mph max). 78% of commuters drive less than 40 miles a day, so the Volt is the most accommodating. However, the PIP or CMAX may be better matched for those with shorter commutes, still 51% (Energi) and 29% (PIP) of commutes!

        With good driving habits in moderate temperatures, each of these vehicles can exceed their EPA EV range, sometimes by as much as 25% or more (Many Volt drivers get over 50 miles range)

        When all three vehicles are depleted, they all get between 40 and 50 mpg EPA on gas, the Volt being the lowest rate and the Prius the highest – your results may vary. However, unless someone takes A LOT of long trips, this is mostly irrelevant to overall efficiency compared to how well the particular vehicle fits your daily drive and lifestyle, not to mention ability to charge again during the day.

        Worthy to not that charging at work, even from a regular outlet, can effectively double the range of each of these vehicles, giving you even more choices. Even the Volt can be full charged from a 110 outlet during a typical ~9 hour work day, giving an effective daily EV range of 76 miles.

        • allannde

          Hi Mark Thank you for correcting and refining what I said for the Ford and Chev products. I know less about them as I own only a Prius PHEV. This thing I know about a Prius PHEV (which is a topic of conversation among Prius PHEV owners). A Prius PHEV is NOT an electric car. It is designed to use the best qualities of both an electric motor AND a gasoline engine working in combination. The name “Plug in Hybrid….. is not accidental. It is descriptive. This explains the difference between the 6 mile EV range and the 11 mile EV range. There are Prius PHEV owners who have achieved 18 miles of EV range in ordinary driving.

          It is VERY true that the PHEV and or the range extended EV are susceptible to differing driving styles and patterns much more so than traditional cars. Some people can benefit a lot from these cars and others not so much. Real study is worthwhile to maximize the benefit which they offer. One choice may be much better for me than it is for you and the reverse may be just as true,

          • SirSparks

            I would like to thank you Allannde, and also Mark.
            I am now much less ignorant than I was before. Well perhaps just as ignorant, but certainly more knowledgeable !!

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