How Top Electric Car Sales Compare To Top Car Sales In US (+ Poll)

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As you well know, I spend a lot of time every month putting together electric car sales reports, the biggest of which is the US electric car sales report (since the US has the largest electric car market in the world). I have also looked at electric car sales relative to total car sales and relative to hybrid car sales in their first few years on the market. However, I have never compared the sales of top electric car models to top gasoline and hybrid models.

Someone was nice enough to share my latest plug-in car sales report over on the GM-Volt forum (thanks, trumpeting_angel!), and another member of the forum subsequently asked, “How many Prius’s a month are sold? Also, what is the best selling ICE car, and how many per month?”

A fellow Floridian, Henry_FL, used good ole Google and pulled up this table from June 2014:

car sales US


Eager to crunch a few numbers, I found (based on the numbers above and last month’s electric car sales) that:

  • ~13.5 times more units of the Toyota Camry were sold than the top-selling electric car, the Nissan Leaf.
  • ~3.7 times more units of the top-selling hybrid car, the Toyota Prius (minus the plug-in version), were sold than the Nissan Leaf.
  • If the Nissan Leaf quadrupled its sales (or if the Tesla Model III came along and sold 4 times as many cars per month as the Leaf), it would make it into the top 20 best-selling cars in the US.

Quadrupling sales doesn’t seem like that big of a feat giving how fast sales have been increasing, the fact that most Americans still aren’t aware of the Nissan Leaf, and the fact that disruptive technologies see exponential growth, not linear growth.

One more thing worth noting is that all of these gasoline models benefit from widespread awareness that most available cars are gasoline cars. As electric cars become more common, and as more models hit the market, I think sales will increase fast.

And a final observation: two of the 4 best-selling plug-in cars, the Toyota Prius Plug-in and the Ford Fusion Energi, are essentially “swap and sell” plug-in hybrid versions of two of the 20 best-selling car models. This relatively cheap and easy manufacturing model seems to be doing fairly well for Toyota and Ford. They are not selling as well as the completely original Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, but they are doing much better than the limited-production, less-competitive plug-in car options also in their lineups and offered by Honda. With competitive plug-in versions of the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Nissan Altima, etc, and assuming these car manufacturers actually tried to sell the cars, imagine what a different plug-in car market we’d have! Or, for that matter, what if a few other companies actually built electric cars from the ground up, as Nissan and Tesla have, and tried to sell them.

There are several ways car companies could do much better in the plug-in car market, and could help to transition society in a positive way, but simply building compliance cars and offering them at high prices in a few markets is not one of those ways.

If you don’t mind, please go ahead and answer this 2-question poll, also embedded below. Based on the numbers above and the general trajectory of the plug-in car market, just give us your best guess. Be sure to scroll to the bottom and hit “Done!”

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7400 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan