Lower lease prices and dealership discounts helped plug-in car sales reach new heights in August. General Motors said it sold a record 3,351 Volts last month, more than double its pace so far this year—while Nissan LEAF sales rose in August to 2,420 vehicles, up from its average monthly sales of 1,671 vehicles from the first seven months of 2013. Toyota moved even more plug-in Priuses, 1,791 units, due in part to no-interest, five-year loans.
Perhaps even more important than the impressive sales numbers is increased geographical distribution for EVs and plug-in hybrids. While California consumers still account for about 40 percent of Volt sales, demand from buyers in Michigan, Illinois, Florida and Virginia helped push August sales, said Volt marketing director Cristi Landy. Meanwhile, the Atlanta region was the biggest seller of the all-electric Nissan LEAF, according to Fred Diaz, Nissan’s U.S. sales chief.
The increase in LEAF sales represents a 253.3 percent compared to a year ago. August was LEAF’s best month so far. The annual tally of Nissan LEAF sales is now 14,123 units—more than for all of 2012.
When all the numbers are in, sales of all plug-in cars are likely to exceed 10,000 vehicles for August. That’s more than double the 4,715 vehicles sold a year ago in August 2012. This far outpaced the 17 percent gain in the positive overall automotive market—represented by a 15.5 percent increase in the sale of cars and an 18.4 percent jump in the sale of light trucks.
With a new benchmark in place, it remains to be seen if GM, Nissan and other automakers have hit a sweet spot for the pricing of electric cars—and can continue (and even expand) the new accelerated pace.