Keeping hybrid and electric vehicle sales figures in perspective

plug-in salesWe’ve seen sales numbers decline on hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) in the past few months. When you look at the broad spectrum of market reports and analysis of that data, it’s a good reminder to keep things in perspective. That being said, here’s the latest…………

  • Automakers do believe that sales of hybrids and EVs will go up eventually; even though recent sales figures have declined, their production schedules are still staying on track – and that includes expecting demand for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. BMW now plans to sell a plug-in hybrid version of every major model in its vehicle lineup. Daimler will be investing 100 million euros to increase production of batteries for its EVs; Tesla is clearly optimistic with its grand vision of building the $5 billion “gigafactory.” Toyota is preparing to sell its first fuel-cell vehicle in Japan, which it recently named the Mirai. One of the reasons for the trend is that automakers do believe gasoline prices will eventually climb up. “We think the trend is clear,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. “Over time, we believe gas prices around the world will continue moving higher.”
  • Hybrid sales were down nearly14% from last year in November, but EV sales were up slightly over last year and last month. Hybrids did see a 0.7% increase over October 2014. Hybrids are down nearly 5,000 units year-to-date from last year as of the end of November. Plug-in electric vehicles have a different story, according to Electric Drive Transportation Association: “With 9,785 plug in vehicles (3,609 plug-in hybrids and 6,176 battery EVs) sold last month, the total number of plug-ins that have been sold in 2014 rose to 107,487. This year-to-date cumulative number represents a 24 percent increase over the 86,912 plug-in vehicles that had been sold thru the same period last year,” the association reported.
  • Retail vehicle sales guru Art Spinella and his CNW Research firm just reported its consumer survey study indicating upper-middle class Americans are not crazy about buying EVs. “High Yield” new-car customers, upper-middle income Americans in their middle to late forties pre-disposed to buying a vehicle regularly, are not interested in buying an EV. That would be the case if the EV had identical prices as comparably-sized gasoline or diesel cars. That demographic group doesn’t represent the lion’s share of new vehicle sales in the US, but the study does point to a telling trend: you can’t depend on upper income early adopters to make a new technology successful. As suggested last week in Green Auto Market, long-term success in green vehicle sales will need to come from cost-sensitive fleets and consumers. They’ll be bringing in the larger sales numbers long term as these vehicles become more mainstream and accepted – and affordable. Marketing messages need to deliver more than concern over climate change or “keeping up with the Joneses” on cool new technologies.
  • The Nissan Leaf saw 2,687 units sold last month; what was its 22nd straight month of sales increases year-over-year. Overall, battery electric vehicles are continuing to see stronger sales than the plug-in hybrids in the US. There are likely a few influential factors behind it:  car shoppers are impressed and confident in the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and BMW i3; their lease programs are attractive and make the deals more affordable; there are more charging stations installed in major metros across the US, relieving range anxiety; and battery range is increasing with each new model year.
  • Keep your eyes on the big picture. When you look at studies that are being released, such as the new EV City Casebook, you’ll see signs that perspectives are changing on EV ownership in global markets (including the US) that should increase EV adoption. Fleets are definitely influencing this trend, with a good example coming from California-based consulting firm Vision Fleet and its fleet partners. In late October, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was enthusiastic to announce the city’s “Freedom Fleet,” which will bring in 425 plug-in sedans. That project with Vision Fleet is expected to save the city 2.2 million gallons of gasoline over the next decade. The greenhouse gas reduction will be impressive, too.

3 thoughts on “Keeping hybrid and electric vehicle sales figures in perspective”

  1. Coming from Australia where we have vast uninhabited areas ,my concern would be the supply to refill.
    If the public could be assured of sufficent outlets and car prices are value for money for both new and second hand units i believe there would a surge in sales.

  2. Bob, Is the public concerned about there being sufficient oil and gas at an afforable price? Are they concerned about sufficient air quality to absorb all of the toxins from the combustion of diesel and gas.Are they concerned about sufficient defense to protect from Al Quaid and ISIS who get allmost all of their funding from oil sales. Are they concerned about sufficient outlets to plug in their toasters and refrigerators etc? EVs can use the same outlets. There are more places to charge up in OZ than there are places to gas up.
    Groups such as Plug share make a lot of these private plugs accessible.

    1. Dennis,
      I don’t think Austailia has any sunlight for remote solar chargers either (?). Glad they don’t worry about creating local jobs with domesticated fuel (electricity) sources — OPEC needs more jobs.

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