Published on January 7th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


EV Sales Up 228.88% In 2013 In US (2013 Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Sales Report)

January 7th, 2014 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Hybrid and electric car sales for December and 2013 as a whole have all finally come in. You can see the specific numbers above, as well as a chart showing the leading models (for Dec 2013, Dec 2012, all of 2013, and all of 2012). When you’re done having fun with the interactive chart above, below is my commentary on December sales and 2013 sales as a whole.

The big, overall news is that 100% electric car sales increased 228.88% in 2013 compared to 2012. To a lesser extent — but still notable growth — plug-in hybrid electric sales increased 26.87% in that time period. In the end, annual sales of 100% electric cars (46,148) nearly reached annual sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (48,951).

As I wrote a couple days ago, one of the biggest stories of the year was the sales “rivalry” between the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt that kicked into gear when the price of the Nissan Leaf dropped by $6,400 thanks to US manufacturing starting up. To read about that rivalry, click the link above.

If you exclude conventional hybrid electric vehicles (which I actually plan to do in these monthly sales reports in 2014 — since conventional hybrids simply don’t have the benefits of plug-in cars), there are only a handful of models that are really worth looking at right now (in terms of sales). Aside from the Nissan Leaf & Chevy Volt, they are: the Tesla Model S, the Toyota Prius Plug-in, and Ford’s two Energi models. Sales for other plug-in cars drop off very steeply after that.

The Tesla Model S sold quite well in 2013, especially considering that it’s a luxury/performance sedan. As with the Nissan Leaf (well, even more so), its sales were limited by supply rather than demand. Battery production, and production of some other parts, needs to ramp up a bit, but it’s getting there.

Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in sales each dropped slightly in 2013 compared to 2012, but that is most likely due to increasing competition. Sale of the Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi started at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, respectively. These vehicles have done quite well, and they surely took sales away from those previously released PHEVs from Chevy & Toyota. Combined, over 15,000 Ford Energi vehicles were sold in 2013, more than the Toyota Prius Plug-in.

Furthermore, while not all Chevy Volt/Toyota Prius Plug-in buyers would consider the Nissan Leaf, and not all Nissan Leaf buyers would consider the Chevy Volt/Toyota Prius Plug-in, they are similar enough that I’m sure the big Nissan Leaf price drop last year lured away some potential PHEV customers.

That’s primarily my take on plug-in car sales for 2013 as a whole as well as December 2013 — the trends were basically the same for both. However, there is one last point that I would like to make. The reason many of the other plug-in cars are seeing low sales is not because they are poor options — they are seeing low sales because their sales markets and overall production have been severely limited. It’s deceiving, and it keeps plug-in car sales artificially lower than they would be if manufacturers treated them seriously.

2014 is going to be a big year for electric cars. New models such as the BMW i3, VW e-Golf, Tesla Model X, and Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric Drive are going to bring the game up to another level, as will increasing production capacity for the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf. Manufacturers who are very late to the EV game (that is, in getting serious about this market) are going to suffer.

Electric Car Sales

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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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.

  • Anton

    Not too much to be excited about. EVs still need to be powered. Where does that power come from today and in the near foreseeable future? Mostly coal & gas, both of which contribute to climate change, pollution and environmental degradation. As a matter of fact, exploration of those is much more dangerous and impaction to the human race than oil is. Renewables, you say? We’re getting there, but the problem is, there are few renewables which don’t have negative impacts as well. We still need to clear and develop land to put up solar arrays, wind turbines, or even worse, dams. EVs are just a way for a bunch of people to make some money. Marketing.

    • Bob_Wallace


    • EVs are much more efficient. In California, driving an EV cuts emissions by about 4 times compared to a gasmobile. Even in WV, which has the dirtiest grid in the US, EVs are cleaner. In the cleanest states, they’re 20-25 times cleaner.

      Then, of course, an EV driver can get solar panels, which they often do. ~40% of California EV drivers have solar panels.

      • A Real Libertarian

        And renewables have just started their long rise to the top.

    • jeffhre

      What is the danger of “negative impacts” in “clearing and developing” space on the millions of roofs and backyards, parking lots, schools, offices and warehouses that sit in the sun all day every day. Nothing to get excited about.

      Sixty GW of wind turbines are now helping to power the US. Nothing to get excited about? California installed more solar last year than in the previous 30 years combined. Nothing to get excited about? Boy I’ll say so, for anyone living on mars for the past 5 years, more or less no.

      Here’s a thought. If we hadn’t been putting up more renewable energy generation than other sources for the past year and a half, wouldn’t we be clearing land to install coal and gas powered thermal plants anyway?

  • Jim Nelson

    Good work digging out the data, but I was so disappointed to learn that it wasn’t 228.89% instead of 228.88%.
    Three sig digs tell the story fine, as well in the table as in the headline. Round to 229, OK? No impact is lost.

    • Haha, i normally do, but i liked the number fun that came with the EOY calcs. 😀

  • H.Panicker

    Appears EV and hybrids have not performed this well when global sales are reviewed for year ending 2013.

  • Andreas Halse

    Which market is this? Global, US or what?

    • Sorry, I normally indicated that it’s the US market, but that slipped through this time.

  • Steve Grinwis

    Those are some really cool graphs, and a great sign. A couple more years at that rate of growth, and we’ll have some angry oil barons on our hands! 😀

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