Plug-In Prius Sales Push Plug-in Hybrids Way Ahead of EVs

By · October 03, 2012

Toyota Prius Plug-In

Yesterday, we reported that both the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF set sales records in September. Now, if we add sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid—which were two units shy of matching its best month—the decisive lead of plug-in hybrids over EVs becomes crystal clear.

Toyota reported late yesterday that sales of the Prius Plug-In checked in at 1,652 units last month. In terms of year-to-date numbers, sales of the Prius Plug-In now stand at 7,734.

Add those units to the Volt's 16,348 sales, and you get a total of 24,082 cars that can run on grid-supplied energy, but that also have a gas engine on board. That contrasts with just 5,212 YTD sales of the LEAF. Even if you generously add about 1,000 combined sales of Mitsubishi i, Tesla Model S, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV, Smart ED, and BMW ActiveE, the grand total of EV sales in the U.S. in 2012 is about one-third of the PHEV numbers. When Ford releases plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Max and Fusion—and Honda with the Accord PHEV—the numbers of plug-in hybrids to pure EVs are likely to become more lopsided.

The numbers raise a number of important questions: How long will the dominance of plug-in hybrids over EVs last? What's it going to take to produce an EV with the right range at the right cost to create a hit? If plug-in hybrids, with relatively small batteries, can do just fine with home charging off 120v, has all the talk about public charging infrastructure been overblown? With a growing market for hybrids, can automakers start to add plug-in versions to those gas-electric models, as the most feasible approach to displacing gas-powered miles with electric ones?

New to EVs? Start here

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