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Tesla likely Q1 US PEV leader with 4,750+ sales in North America; Nissan surges with LEAF in March in US

With the US sales numbers for the first quarter of 2013 in, Tesla appears to be the leading seller of plug-in vehicles for that period, with more than 4,750 units of the model S sold in North America. (Earlier post.) (Tesla doesn’t break out sales by country at this time, so there are no US-specific figures from the company.)

GM posted sales of 4,244 Volt extended range electric vehicles in the US in the second quarter, representing an 8.4% increase year-on-year. March sales of the Volt in the US were weaker in March, with 1,478 units, compared to 2,289 units in March 2012, a decrease of 35.4%. (In Canada, GM sold 177 Volts in Q1, and 82 in March.)

Nissan, which sold 3,539 units of the LEAF battery electric vehicle in the US in Q1 (a 104.2% increase year-on-year), sold 2,236 LEAFs in March, a 286.2% increase from March 2012’s 579 units.

Toyota followed with 2,353 units of the Prius PHV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sold in Q1, up 158% year-on-year. For March, Toyota posted 786 units of the plug-in hybrid, down 11.8% year-on-year. The company also sold 212 units of the RAV4 EV in Q1, 133 of those in March.

Ford sold 1,999 units of its three electric-drive vehicles during the first quarter: 419 units of the battery-electric Focus Electric; 414 units of the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; and 1,166 units of the CMAX Energi plug-in hybrid. The figures for March are 180 Focus Electric; 295 Fusion Energi; and 494 CMAX Energi.

Honda sold 46 units of the battery-electric Fit in Q1, and 45 units of the Accord PHEV plug-in hybrid. Figures for March were 23 units of the Fit and 26 units of the Accord.

Mitsubishi sold 625 units of the battery-electric i-MIEV in Q1, and 31 units in March.

Taken altogether, plug-in sales in the US reached about 17,800 units in the first quarter of 2013 (the uncertainty, again, surrounding the number of non-US Model S sales included in the 4,750 number). Of that figure, Tesla had about a 27% share, GM a 24% share, Nissan a 20% share and Toyota a 14% share.

Overall, light-duty vehicle sales for the US in Q1 2013 reached 3,688,662 units, according to Autodata, an increase year-on-year of 6.4%. Plug-in vehicles thus represented about 0.5% of the market.


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Nissan will win the plug-in throne next quarter with its newly opened factories in USA and Europe. We need to see more production capacity at Tesla. With a global sales network and the Model X on sale too they should be able to sell 100k units per year despite of the high price tag of 70,000 to 100,000 USD. If the orders keep coming after Tesla win down their waiting list it should not be too difficult for Tesla to find the investment capital needed to make 100k units per year.


"March sales of the Volt in the US were weaker in March, with 1,478 units.."

".. sold 2,236 LEAFs in March"

GM must "drop their Volt price by $thousands" as promised to stop this Leaf sales turnaround.

Then again, they could close the Volt assembly line another time to further Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) in EV transportation progress.

In 2008, financial institutions stole about $800 billion dollars from Americans(TARP), with GM getting about 10%.

Perhaps double GM's share when all 'forgiven' debt and future tax handouts are included - more than many DECADES of GM 'vehicle' profits..

GM distributed gasoline and financing through the poorest mileage vehicles on earth for nearly 100 years.

People get toasters when they open new bank accounts, but that doesn't make the bank a manufacturer.


More important than this news is that Tesla is about to become profitable. These are historic times. When was the last time there was a new and successful american car company?

I agree with Henrik, Nissan will win the numbers battle this year. For many, the Leaf is an economical choice. If you commute about 40 miles a day, you will save money on your cost of vehicle and fuel vs. a small four cylinder five speed economy car. Although, most american don't understand that, but enough do, I mean enough do know what math is and are not led by political or religious leaders.

Once upon a time, the "used to be big three" provided too much competion for there to be new car companies. They let this slip this time. They have totally failed to see the future and cling to existence only because we see them as too big to fail. They make no real effort to get on top of the electric vehicle market and will only do so when forced by everyone else in the world. Detroit leadership has become Detroit following and begging from the tax payer.


@Brotherkenny4 , Amen.


We have bought the gas guzzler boats-on-wheels the Big 3 have convinced us to buy for almost 100 years.

The approach, under external pressure, has changed in the last 5 years or so. They (the Big 3) are now trying to produce more efficient units but are still very reluctant to mass produce electric vehicles?

They will probably change and try to catch up by 2020 or so, when BEVs with 500+ Km range will be produced by 20+ other manufacturers.

Tesla will have company, serious competition, from lower cost long range e-vehicles by 2020 or so.



"If you commute about 40 miles a day, you will save money" (with the Leaf).

Indeed. The problem is that if you commute less than that, you won't save any money. If you commute more than that, you won't make it home on hot days, cold days, or days when you need to run an errand that takes you out of your way.

The sweet spot is extremely small with this generation of electric cars. I ran the numbers for myself, and it would only work if temps never went much below freezing and if I never had to stray from my usual route (no dentist appointments, etc). My average commute is around 40 miles. I based my range estimates on what Leaf owners are reporting online.


We could get better batteries, but it might take a while. Remember in 2007 when GM was not sure the batteries would be available to do what they wanted in 2012?

They hit a moving target and it paid off, but not many could or would bet the farm on the next battery breakthrough coming along in time to save the day.

Engineering is a special profession, you do not create something that has not been done on schedule. It would be like telling one of the Dutch master painters to hurry with a masterpiece because it has to be done by noon.

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