Electric vehicles had their strongest month in June this year as major automakers cut prices and added hefty incentives to boost sales.
General Motors reported sales jumped by 53 percent to 2,698 in June, up over the 1,760 in June 2012 after it offered incentives worth as much as $5,000 off 2012 models and $4,000 off 2013 models. For the first half of 2013, sales are up 11.8 percent.
Nissan said sales of its all-electric Leaf were up 315 percent over June 2012 to 2,225, for its second-best ever month. Nissan has now sold 9,849 in the first half of 2013, more than the 9,819 it sold in all of 2012. In January, Nissan said it was cutting the price of the entry-level Leaf 18 percent to $28,800 for the 2013 model as it launched U.S. production.
Honda had its best-ever month in June with 208 Fit EVs sold, after selling 83 in the first five months of the year. Honda announced in May that it has cut the monthly lease payment on its Fit EV from $389 to $259 and also is cutting the payment for those who already had leased the vehicle. Honda sold just 93 last year.
Honda started sales in July 2012 of the Fit EV and said it plans to sell just 1,100 over two years, citing capacity constraints. The company has 200 dealers selling the Fit EV and said it plans steadier availability. Honda spokeswoman Jessica Fini said after the lease price was cut, “basically everything on the ground sold,” but she emphasized that the company still has inventory to sell.
GM plans to keep the same incentives in place for at least another month. GM is offering $5,000 off the 2012, and $4,000 off the 2013, and a $269 lease for 36 months with $2,399 due at signing. More than 40 percent of Volts are sold in California, followed by Michigan in second.
Malcho said GM has increased its incentives to stay competitive in the electric vehicle market. The company also wants to clear out some inventory before it begins building 2014 Volts later this summer.
In January, Ford Motor Co. dropped the price of the lease for a Focus EV from about $350 a month to $285, plus $930 due at signing. Ford reduced the base price of the EV Focus by $2,000 to $37,995. But Ford EV sales have remained very modest. Ford sold 157 Focus EVs in May to 723 for the first five months of the year. By contrast Ford has sold 8,177 hybrids in the first five months of the year.