Plug-in electric car sales for April 2016: Volt romps, Leaf stagnates

After the usual winter doldrums at the start of the year, April proved to be a good month for plug-in electric car sales in the U.S.

March was a record-breaking month, and as April results come in today and tomorrow, last month’s pace seems to be robust as well.

As usual, the two highest-volume cars for which we have reported data are the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf battery-electric hatchback.

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The Volt, which was entirely redesigned as a 2016 model but sold only in certain regions, is now becoming available across the country as a 2017 car.

Its deliveries last month were 1,983, on top of 1,865 in March, bringing its four-month total this year to 5,940—its highest ever for the period, besting totals over 5,000 in 2012 and 2013.

At this pace, the total number of Volts delivered will cross the 100,000 mark sometime this summer, a notable achievement.

The Nissan Leaf, meanwhile, got a range boost for 2016, from an EPA-rated 84 miles combined to 107 miles from a larger 30-kilowatt-hour battery pack in the SL and SV models.

April sales for the Leaf were 787, over a March number that at least cracked the four-figure mark, at 1,246.

But with longer-range Leafs now rolling into dealers after a production start late in 2015, its four-month total of 3,718 is far from its best ever—that was 7,272 back in 2013.

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As always, Tesla Motors refuses to break out its sales of Model S and Model X luxury electric cars by month or region, so we don’t have comparable numbers for the longest-range plug-in vehicles sold in the U.S.

Other high-volume entries include the BMW i3—whose recent sales have been very low as the company prepares to roll out a longer-range 2017 version—and Ford’s pair of Energi plug-in hybrid models.

The Volkswagen e-Golf, whose sales grew substantially during the second half of 2015, has fallen back to much lower numbers, and can’t really be considered a volume entry at the moment.

2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015

2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015

Enlarge Photo

In fact, the Audi A3 e-tron remains the impressive vehicle in that group, with April sales of 321 bringing its year-to-date total to 1,228.

That’s an impressive number for a car that’s only been on sale four months (and one day).

Some makers, including Audi, BMW, and Volvo, have a significantly higher percentage of plug-in sales overall—despite the higher absolute numbers of cars sold by the largest makers like General Motors and Nissan.

Beyond those few high-volume vehicles are the growing number of mid-size to luxury plug-in hybrid sedans and SUVs, all of which sell in relatively low absolute numbers.

The Cadillac ELR range-extended luxury coupe sold 95 units, bringing its 2016 total to 357 and its lifetime sales to a mere 2,697.

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Finally, the more than two dozen plug-in electric cars on sale in the U.S. are rounded out by the handful of compliance-car and low-volume battery-electric entries.

Those include the Chevy Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric,and the Fiat 500e and Kia Soul EV, whose makers also refuse to break out sales.

There are also the Smart Electric Drive (which will be replaced with an entirely new model within the year), and the hapless Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicar.

This article will be updated throughout May 3 and May 4 as new sales data and breakdowns are issued.


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