Although Toyota has essentially said the time of the electric car is not yet, Nissan’s all-electric Leaf’s 3,102 sales last month handily topped those of every alternative-energy cars save one, the Toyota Prius Liftback.
The Prius is a long-established car since 2000 in the United States, but placing behind the EV from competitor Nissan were every other Toyota and Lexus product as well as all makes and models of hybrid, diesel, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicle.
Nearest hybrid runners up were the Prius c with 2,839 sales, the Camry Hybrid with 2,448 sales, Fusion Hybrid with 2,372, and Prius v with 2,284. The nearest diesel car, the Jetta TDI, sold 2,247.
As has been well documented, cheap fuel prices in the U.S. have put a dent in hybrid sales, but powered by an even cheaper fuel and subsidized by various incentives, the electric Leaf has accelerated against the trend.
Leaf sales have also been driven by cheap leases, effective-enough marketing, a “no charge to charge” promo in select markets, and word of mouth.
The car was launched December 2010 and while an unofficial sales “race” between it and the extended-range electric Chevy Volt which was launched the same month has ensued the past few years, that competition is these days being politely overlooked in some quarters.
The Volt sold 1,490 last month. It’s not being nationally advertised and some buyers are awaiting the 2016 model which will be revealed next week in advance of its going on sale next summer.
One question mark does exist though: The Tesla Model S. As its maker does not report monthly sales, analysts do their best to estimate these and one publication – not us – and known to be usually pretty accurate estimates Model S sales at 3,500 last month.
The P85D was launched last month and Tesla may have curtailed European exports for a period of time, so it may well have exceeded our estimate of 1,900 this time but this has not been confirmed by Tesla.
If so, it will also have been the single best month for the Model S ever, as it usually does below 2,000 monthly. If this is the case however, the Model S may have actually topped the Leaf’s December sales, and we may or may not find out later.
In any event, with what we know among verified sales by automakers that play by the traditional rules of full disclosure, the Leaf is doing well and accelerating as it enters its fifth production year.
For a closer look at all the numbers, please consult our December Dashboard.