Return of the Plug-Ins: Cars with Cords Make Efforts to Rally Sales
Rumors of the death of the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and plug-in Toyota Prius hybrid have been greatly exaggerated, according to Automotive News.
The Chevrolet Volt has been the top-selling rechargable car in the United States and further cemented that status after selling 2,851 examples last month to bring the total sold for the year to 16,348, the site said.
The plug-in Prius, meanwhile, has moved some 7,734 copies year-to-date, while the Leaf, the only car of the trio to feature no gasoline engine, has sold 5,212. In the case of the Leaf, sales were up 69% in September as compared to August– the car sold 984 examples in September vs. 685 in August.
All three have seen sales tick up in response to incentives offered by their manufacturers. For the Volt, GM recently started offering a $299/month lease deal. For a car with a sticker price just a whisker away from $40,000, that’s a cheap lease payment. Nissan, for its part, has started offering $199/month lease deals on Leafs in select markets including Southern California. The Leaf has a base price of $36,050, which makes its lease deal even more appealing than the Volt’s on a payment-vs.-purchase price scale.
The Prius plug-in receives the lowest government incentive– both the Leaf and the Volt qualify for a $7,500 tax credit, while the Prius only gets $2,500– but it also has the lowest base price, ringing in at $32,000. That puts its purchase price below the crucial $30,000 mark for most buyers, just as the $7,500 credit does for the Leaf, but the Prius enjoys the extended range provided by its traditional gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain.
Despite the uptick in sales cheap lease rates have helped spur, Leaf sales numbers are still down 4.6% from a year ago, and Nissan is a long way from selling the 20,000 examples of the battery electric vehicle it set out to sell during the calendar year, according to Automotive News.
Of the lease deal on the Volt, TrueCar.com Analyst Jesse Toprak said, “I’m utterly surprised people are not lining up to get one at that price. The annual fuel savings alone make this car very appealing.” TrueCar offers pricing analysis on new cars.
Nissan Vice President of U.S. Sales Al Castignetti said Chevrolet had made the plug-in vehicle marketplace “ultra-competitive” with its lease offer on the Volt. He optimistically said that he thought Nissan had successfully engaged those interested in electric cars.
“We’re finally starting to get the dealer engagement. We’re starting to reach the consumer, the actual consumer for electric vehicles. We’re driving more traffic to our dealerships and that’s a very good thing,” he said.
Toprak said the plug-in vehicle was in its infancy and would need time to catch on.
“Until a middle-class family in in the middle of the country finds that it makes economic sense to buy one of these cars, you won’t see big volume,” Toprak said.
So dear reader, we throw it over to you: What kind of deal would convince you to buy or lease a plug-in vehicle?