U.S. sales of full electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles rose 84 percent in 2013 to more than 96,000, boosted by price cuts and new model launches, according to a report from the Detroit News citing data obtained from Wards Auto. Automakers sold nearly 49,000 plug-in hybrids, up 27 percent over 2012, and 47,600 electric vehicles – up 241 percent compared to last year. For comparison, in 2011 U.S. consumers bought 18,000 EVs.
Traditional hybrid sales rose by a more moderate rate of 15.3 percent to 489,413 units, making 2013 the best-ever year for hybrid vehicle sales. The lion’s share went to Toyota, with its hybrids making up 60 percent of all hybrid sales. Diesel sales also increased 10 percent to nearly 450,000 in 2013.
The spectacular increase in sales of electrified vehicles was due to the fact that nearly all automakers cut prices significantly last year. An exception was Tesla Motors, which saw increased demand for its Model S sedan, with about 18,800 units being sold in 2013.
Nissan also saw increased sales for its Leaf EV by 130 percent to 22,610 units. Sales have jumped since the carmaker dropped the base price by 18 percent, to $28,800 for the 2013 model year. Nissan also increased cargo room and added an on-board charger that reduces electric charging times by 50 percent.
Sales of the Chevrolet Volt fell 1.6 percent in 2013 to 23,094, despite GM cutting the base price by $5,000 in August, while sales of Toyota’s Prius plug-in hybrid fell 5.2 percent to 12,088.
Ford, which has reduced the price of the Focus EV by $4,000 for the 2014 model year, only sold about 1,500 units in the first 11 months of 2013.
By Dan Mihalascu