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In Spite of Lagging Economy, Plug-In Vehicles Top October Sales


Plug-In Vehicle at a Charging StationSince 2007, the beginning of the recession in the US, automobile manufacturers have been facing ever decreasing sales numbers, consistently posting in the red from month to month, year to year. Electrified vehicle sales have been hurting as well, especially considering poor public opinion due to limited range, excessive charging times, and high up-front expense.

Some of that opinion must be changing for the better, considering October sales numbers. Pike Research’s monthly study of automobile sales shows that sales of plug-in vehicles saw an all-time high, which indicates that maybe there is room in the American household for these highly efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly vehicles.

Makers of plug-in vehicles, including electric vehicles [EV] and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles [PHEV], did see a boost in sales over other vehicle types, but one must keep these numbers in perspective. Yes, this was the best month for plug-in vehicles, but they still are a very small part of the market share. Some models, such as the new Ford C-MAX outsold major players in the hybrid field like Toyota Prius, while other models, like the Nissan Leaf, actually saw a drop in sales.

How did EV and PHEV models fair in October? Here are the numbers:

  • Chevy Volt – 2,961 (possibly attributable to major incentives)
  • Toyota Prius PHEV – 1,889
  • Nissan Leaf – 1,579
  • Tesla Model S – ~295 (estimated)
  • Ford C-MAX Energi – 144
  • Ford Focus EV – 118
  • Fisker Karma – ~88 (estimated)
  • Toyota RAV4 EV – 47
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 30
  • Honda FIT EV – 16

One month is certainly not enough to identify a sales trend, but perhaps it is enough to start one. The more plug-in vehicle drivers there are out there, the more their image will improve for those people still on the fence about them. Perhaps this is enough to get more clean vehicles on the road in America, but identifying a trend is going to take some time.

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