Feb 1 U.S. plug-in electric cars started 2013
slowly, as sales of the Chevrolet Volt, the Toyota Prius Plug-In
and Nissan Leaf each had deep dropoffs in January from December.
Volt sales fell 57 percent in January from December, Leaf
sales fell 56 percent and Prius Plug-In sales were down 36
percent. Industrywide, U.S. auto sales fell 23 percent from
December, and rose 14.2 percent from last January.
Even after accounting for the fact that January is one of
the slowest months of the year for auto sales, the dropoff for
plug-in electric cars was considerable, said Michelle Krebs,
analyst with Edmunds.com.
Krebs said U.S. consumers who want an alternative to fully
gasoline-powered cars are opting for less-expensive standard
hybrids, rather than plug-in electric cars. The automakers
themselves cited other factors such as limited inventories and
production that has yet to gear up fully.
The Volt and the Prius Plug-In are both gasoline-electric
plug-in hybrids while the Leaf runs fully on electric power.
Automakers reported increased U.S. and Canadian January
sales on Friday.
Toyota and Nissan officials each said sales for their
plug-in electric vehicles were down because of model year
changeovers that cut the number of available cars on dealer
Also, said Nissan brand North American sales chief Al
Castignetti, production of the Leaf cars for the U.S. market was
down because production at a plant in Tennessee which began
recently is not yet at full capacity. Production of the Leaf
recently switched from a plant in Japan.
General Motors Co officials said January sales were
down for the Chevy Volt due to a spike in December sales related
to buyers who bought before the end of the year to gain 2012 tax
Limited inventory in January makes sense, said Jesse Toprak,
analyst with TrueCar.com, who agreed dealer inventory was slight
"I anticipate the sales of the three vehicles to grow by at
least 8 percent in 2013," said Toprak.
U.S. January sales of the Volt were 1,140, down from 2,633
in December. Its 2012 sales were 23,461, up from 7,671 in 2011.
For Toyota Motor Corp's Prius Plug-In, January U.S.
sales were 874, down from 1,361 in December. Its 2012 sales were
13,200, the year it was introduced.
But sales for the Prius Plug-In will slide this year, to
about 12,000, said Bill Fay, head of U.S. sales for the Toyota
Fay said he is "very positive" but has moderate expectations
for the Prius Plug-In sales.
Nissan Motor Co's Leaf saw sales drop in January to
650. After production ramps up to full capacity in Tennessee,
Leaf sales will be about 1,500 a month, said Castignetti.