Just how many electric vehicles are selling in the United States in 2014? Though the number is going up every month — May EV sales more than doubled January EV sales this year — there is at least one factor that makes it impossible to know precisely.
For example, Tesla Motors reports global sales only. While 7,579 units of the Model S sold around the world in the second quarter of 2014, the luxury EV maker won’t say how many of them were sent off to U.S. consumers. Estimates vary wildly bewteen different EV news sites. It may be 1,500, but the number may also break 2,000 units of the Model S. Speculating isn’t all that constructive.
Other automakers are happy to report the exact number of all-electric vehicles and plug-in models they are selling in the U.S., and there are plenty of statistics that will raise eyebrows. Here are six electric vehicles that posted surprising sales numbers in July and throughout the rest of 2014. Statistics are courtesy of InsideEVs, while mileage ratings and electric range figures quoted come from Fueleconomy.gov.
6. Honda Accord Plug-in
The Honda Accord is the second-best selling car in the United States, but its plug-in hybrid model is hardly moving at all. Just forty-one models of the Accord plug-in were delivered to U.S. consumers in July, making it one of the worst sellers on the EV market. Unlike the Honda Fit EV that’s in high demand but unavailable in most markets, the Accord plug-in is available but getting no love. That’s an odd fate for the ride Kelley Blue Book experts named the best EV on the market in its comprehensive rating system. Electric range for the Accord plug-in is 13 miles. It gets 115 MPGe.
5. Smart Electric Drive
At a glance, the Smart Electric Drive would seem to be the car U.S. consumers avoid because of its golf-cart characteristics. In fact, Smart cars once topped the most embarrassing automobile list. U.S. auto shoppers have shrugged off these concerns in the summer of 2014. Sales peaked at 298 Smart Electric Drive models in July, which was more than triple its sales (97) from January. Consumers seem to be warming to the little ride that is the most affordable electric vehicle on the U.S. market at $12,490 after the federal rebate. Electric range is 68 miles with 107 MPGe.
4. BMW i3
An electric vehicle by BMW may sound like an expensive proposition, but in fact this car has an MSRP of $33,850 post-rebate. That pricing puts the BMW i3 in the top 10 of most affordable EVs out there with rebates factored in (it costs less than the Honda Accord plug-in). So why are fewer than 400 models of the i3 (363 in July 2014) selling per month? Compared to the Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S, which both veer toward 2,000 units moved in the summer months, the i3 barely registering on the charts. The i3 gets an electric range of 81 miles and 124 MPGe.
3. Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in
The Ford Fusion is the sixth-best selling car in the United States in 2014, but sales of its plug-in hybrid (19 miles electric range and 88 MPGe) are also catching the industry’s attention. Fusion plug-in sales more than doubled between March (899 units) and June 2014 (1,939 units), when it was the top-selling electric vehicle from a U.S. automaker. In fact, this model of Ford’s midsize sedan may be outselling the Tesla Model S (exact figures are not available) among U.S. consumers. Its base price is over $8,000 more ($30,700) than the cheapest gasoline Fusion after the plug-in hybrid rebate of $4,000.
2. Mitsubishi i-MiEV
The formula that is working for the Smart Electric Drive models — low price, high economy, style be damned — is not delivering for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Just seventeen units of the all-electric i-MiEV ($15,495 after rebate) sold in July, putting the total at 114 for the year. By comparison, Smart sold 122 Electric Drive models in February alone, which was its second-worst month of the year. With 62 miles of range and 112 MPGe, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV makes a case for economy, but the 2014 model is not drawing out any new customers in the U.S.
1. Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
Drawing up a green car strategy, one wouldn’t expect to throw a four-door Porsche plug-in into the mix, but this hybrid EV is topping the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Accord plug-in, and new Mercedes B- Class Electric car on a monthly basis. U.S. consumers picked up 63 units of this pricey ($96,100) hybrid in July 2014 after a very robust month of sales (111 units) in June.
While the Panamera S E-Hybrid gets a respectable (all things considered) 15 miles of electric range and 50 MPGe , it’s the performance of this Porsche that’s drawing in as many buyers. Capable of producing 416 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, the S E-Hybrid can sprint 0-60 in 5.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 167 mph. As Tesla has shown in the U.S. and beyond, performance remains a top factor for high-end auto buyers, whether the car is green or not.