US sales of plug-in electric cars dropped heavily in January

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 4, 2013

U.S. Sales of the plug-in electric cars dropped heavily in January from December. Sales of the Chevrolet Volt, the Toyota Prius Plug-In and Nissan Leaf had all declined. Volt sales decreased by 57% in January (compared to December). On the other hand, Leaf sales fell 56% and Prius Plug-In sales decreased by 36%.

Throughout the industry, U.S. auto sales decreased by 23% from December and it increased by 14.2% compared to last January. Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Edmunds.com, said that the plunge in the sales of plug-in electric cars was significant, even when taking into account that January is typically a slow month for auto sales.

Krebs said that U.S. consumers who prefer an alternative to fully gasoline-powered cars are choosing more affordable standard hybrids instead of plug-in electric cars.

The automakers mentioned other factors like limited inventories and production that hasn’t geared up fully yet. Both the Volt and the Prius Plug-In are gasoline-electric plug-in hybrids. Meanwhile, the Leaf is powered fully on electric power. Last Friday, automakers posted higher U.S. and Canadian sales in January.

The officials from Toyota and Nissan said that sales for their plug-in electric vehicles fell due to model year changeovers that reduce the number of available cars on dealer lots. Nissan brand North American sales chief Al Castignetti said that output of the Leaf cars for the U.S. market decreased since production at a plant in Tennessee that recently started is not yet at full capacity. Leaf production had recently been transferred from a facility located in Japan.

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