Though it seems natural to question the selling power of hybrids and electric vehicles with gas prices so low, plug-ins have proven they are in a class by themselves. Since electricity costs are always more stable than gasoline prices, the market for pure EVs and PHEVs exists in a type of green bubble. Prices at the pump do what they will; gas-free is always economical.
April electric vehicle sales provided more evidence for this theory. Sales across the industry gained over 10% year over year with 9,777 cars sold last month, which included the record performances of several EVs on the market. No longer is the Nissan Leaf the undisputed sales leader. As more choices enter the market and incentives now surpass $10,000 in many states, the market appears headed in a different direction.
Here are three things we learned from April electric vehicle sales in the U.S. Thanks to InsideEVs.com for the consistently accurate sales accounting.
1. Tesla has become the dominant force
For three out of four months this year, the Tesla Model S was the top-selling plug-in car in America, giving it the lead over the Nissan Leaf by about 800 units in 2015. Production appears steady as the Fremont-based automaker scrapped the base 60 kWh model in favor of the S 70D. Though InsideEVs.com (like every tracking site) estimates the monthly sales for Tesla, we trust the 1,700 units is an accurate count. That represents a 55% increase over April 2014. Tesla now appears to be the dominant force in the segment, even at its lofty price point.
2. The Chevy Spark EV has an audience
After selling fewer than 200 units in every month it’s been on the market, the Chevrolet Spark EV exploded in April with 920 sales. Not only was that close to the car’s total for 2014 (1,145 units), the Spark EV managed to outsell the Chevy Volt (905 units) despite aggressive discounting offered for the outgoing model. With lease price of $139 per month, the Spark EV found its audience with a record performance in 2015. According to Autoblog, 94% of those 920 sales were retail leases.
[Update 5/7/15: This article has been changed to reflect the fact Spark EV sales had not begun in Maryland during the sales period, as the original version stated. The car was only on sale in Oregon and California.]
3. Ford’s hybrids: Not dead yet
Ford had bad news about cutting a shift at its hybrid plant last month, but the C-Max Energi showed there is still a demand for the brand’s best plug-ins. The C-Max PHEV sold 1,237 units in April, a model record and more than double its sales year over year. That performance put this Ford in third place on sales charts for the month and fourth overall in 2015, ahead of the Chevy Volt. While the Focus Electric continues to flounder, the Fusion and C-Max Energi models remain viable on the EV market.
Data source: InsideEVs.com