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GM, Toyota continue to lead plug-in market in US

The Volt remained the top-selling plug-in vehicle in the US in October. GM delivered a record 2,961 Volts—a 167% increase by volume from October 2011. From January through October 2012, GM has delivered 19,309 Volts—an increase of 286% from the same period in 2011. Overall, GM reported its highest October sales in the US since 2007, with deliveries up 5% versus a year ago to 195,764 vehicles. Year-on-year sales to retail customers were up 7% and sales to fleet customers were down 2%.

Toyota maintained its second place position with 1,889 units sold of the Prius PHV in October. Year-to-date, Toyota has sold 9,623 units of the Prius plug-in hybrid. Prius family sales in October were 16,774 units, up 52.4% year-on-year. The Prius Sedan accounted for 8,788 units; the Prius c, 3,328 units; and the Prius v, 2,769 units. Overall, Toyota sales were up 15.8% to 155,242 units.

The Nissan LEAF posted sales of 1,579 units in October, up 86% from the prior year. Year-to-date, Nissan has sold 6,791 LEAFs, down 15.6% from the same period last year. Overall, Nissan saw its October US sales drop 3.2% to 79,685 units.

The Ford Focus Electric saw its biggest month of sales yet, posting 118 units in October. Year-to-date, Ford has placed 346 units of the EV, for a total of 354 since its introduction. Ford posted very strong results for the C-MAX conventional hybrid in October with 3,182 units sold (earlier post); the plug-in version of the C-MAX (the Energi) is now going on sale in select dealerships.

Honda reported selling 16 units of the Fit EV in October. Sales of the Civic Hybrid were down 5.6% to 453 units, while sales of the hybrid Insight dropped 49% to 251 units. The Acura ILX hybrid posted 144 units sold.



I'd own a Volt, if they were more reasonably priced. A recent attempt at a purchase left me wondering who can afford such a car. Payments of $1232.00 per month for 36 or nearly $1000 for 48! Discounts are not available if I don't finance. I want one, but not that badly.


PHEVs are too heavy and too complex (ICE + generator + EV + large battery pack etc) and will always cost more than ICEVs and BEVs.

One way to make more affordable PHEVs would be with much smaller (20 KW) light weight genset and much smaller (5 to 10 kWh) lower cost battery pack and much lighter car body etc. It wouldn't be a muscle car and the majority would not like it.

The arrival of higher performance (3X to 5X), much lower cost (-60% to -80%) batteries will help to lower PHEVs cost but so will (at a greater extend) BEVs cost. BEVs being much simpler will eventually have a price advantage over PHEVs.


Batteries for PHEVs are too heavy and costly. EVs of comparable size and reasonable range cost even more for the same reason, so we can simply forget them. HEVs are barely competitive (with ICEs) today but struggle with battery weight and cost. By simply increasing the size of the batteries for a HEV, we get a PHEV, which, as we already noted, cost more and is heavier than a HEV; i.e. an impossible equation for the PHEVs. Consequently, there is no market for PHEVs… for the moment, at least.


@cujet, I don't know what fantasy land you live in, but you can lease new Volt for $279 a month or less. Leaf leases for $238 a month with no money down, $99/month with $3000 down. It is easily possible to get a Volt or Leaf for less than you pay per month for gas. We purchased our Leaf, 2.74%, 60 months, put the $7500 down (borrowed that then paid it back when we got our tax return back), our payment is $398/month.

@HarveyD and @Peter XX,
PHEVs and EVs are already cost competitive with standard internal combustion cars when you take into account the total cost of ownership.


@ Pete - Seriously, no market for PHEVs? Lets see, the Volt by itself is outselling all Jaguar, outselling all Landrover and outselling all Suzuki. So no market for those either?

This is an article about 20,000 actual cars - Volts, sold to people who love them more than 911 owners lovers love their 911s, (outsold those by 3x, btw) actually sold, earlier this year. Even at high prices, 20,000 people have bought them.

This is news, relevant news to those that understand the business, especially given that most media outlets thought the Volt would flop, and the political hate-baggage loaded on the car from all angles.

The plug-in market is now the most technologically intense segment of automotive competition. After it became clear that GM went all in, Toyota and Ford have scrambled and have just now reacted, and Honda went all the way back to the drawing board and will launch next summer. All other automakers are even further behind and looking for ways to be present. It is expensive technology to develop, and risky, too. But it's probably even riskier to sit out and wait for the game to get cheaper or simpler.

The PHEV is a transitional vehicle form, but is the most relevant for technological leadership in this period before BEVs are economically useful for most driving. Customers dig PHEVs now, and want more. Of course they want them cheaper, that is the nature of business and technology. And we are on our way...

For BEVs, we need a few breakthroughs - fully capable and economic BEV batteries and the ubiquitous availability of charging at homes and at work. The PHEV primes the business and technology pump for both needed breakthroughs that enable more and more transportation to be done with electrical energy.


A few thousand cars is hardly a market for Toyota and GM. For sure, it is a great market for Jaguar but that is a completely different story. You must have missed something very essential in your logic.

I think PHEVs are more than a transitional solution. If cost, weight and complexity could be fixed, this could become a “permanent” option. BEVs are not the final solution. On the long-term perspective they will cause increased energy use and CO2 compared to PHEVs, as already shown by MIT. Thus, it is with regret that I conclude the current PHEVs do not fulfill my expectations. At current prices, they will not sell, as we have already seen.


Toyota sold just 323 Prius in 1997 when it first came out.

Now it is the third top selling car in the world. Give the PHEVs time.



I went into the dealership asking about those leases you mention. I was told they were over. The lease was nowhere near as attractive on a 2013 model (there were no leftovers) .

Put simply, the "fantasy world" I live in is tempered with a strong dose of reality. I had intended on purchasing. I walked out the door disappointed.

Leasing may not be for me. Lately, I seem to go about 25,000 miles per year. And the extra cost per additional mile driven adds up quickly. I leased a Honda. After 3 years, I was well over the 5 year limit of 70,000. I ended up trading it in, paying the residual value, paying a large portion of the remaining 2 years lease and purchasing a new car. I drove that new car 231,000 miles, without a worry.


Turbofroggy, the great lease deals on 2012 MY's disappeared for a couple weeks but they are back, and now they are on 2013 MY Volts with the longer AER. Criswell Chevy in Maryland has a deal, 0 down, $299 a month, 10k miles a year for 39 months. $299 a month is a phenomenal price for a Volt.

Classic Chevy in Texas has the same deal but with $1599 down for 12,000 miles a year. I talked to Reddy and he sounds like he wants to make the deal work for you.

The deals are still out there, but you have to find a dealer that sells a decent amount of Volts.


@clett, where did you see that the Prius is "third top selling car in the world".
I looked up a list for 2011 and it was number 42 fro 2011.


Hi Mahonj, sorry for the long links, but here are a couple:


I forked out the dough and bought my 2011 Volt (# 2445). Can't tell the world how happy I am with it. PHEVs are truly the baby step in the right direction, while I save up for a Tesla! 21,000+ miles on 89 gallons of gas. Electricity costs are very minimal - about $400 last YEAR. About 90% of my driving is in EV mode. Absolutely amazing engineering marvel.


Leases right now on the Volt are at $299 a month. That's insane when you factor in the $100/month you're going to pay on fuel/gas costs - even after you factor in the additional electricity!


Reuters had the story a while ago that said each Volt costs $89,000 to make. Their math went like this, and was based on information supplied by GM in an interview. The cost of materials and labor for a Volt is $24,000 dollars, and the cost of the development $1.2B. At the time they had sold about 18,461 volts. So if you divide the development cost by the number of vehicles sold and add that to the cost of materials and labor it adds up to $89,000. Well, you should see immediately that the method is intentionally false and was an attempt to lie by Reuters. Interestingly enough, if we make some estimates of future sales, we now know that if GM sells 75,000 Volts, at the current price, they will have earned their development costs back, and by the false logic used in the Reuters story, the cars will at that time cost $39,000 dollars, exactly their price. Now, take that even further. If GM sells 250,000 Volts the cost to produce each one will be $28,800, $24,000 plus $4,800 per vehicle development costs.

Does every car company expect to get their development costs back in 75,000 units?

What is the purpose of the tax credit which go on to 500,000 units?

Why is the price $39,000.

The answer to all of these is greed, and not simply GMs greed, but Americas greed.

So tell me these numbers are wrong and you confirm that Reuters is either stupid or lying.


I should mention, that if GM were to find further reductions in their materials and labor costs (which typically is a result of higher volumes), and sell a million cars, they will be able to produce the Volt at a cost of $23-24K. That would be at a point where total cost of ownership would be less than the typical four banger five speed with fuel costs considered. So again, why is the price $39K?

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