2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in is quietly the 4rth best-selling electrified vehicle in the US
One of the most interesting things I saw at the 2010 Boston Auto Show was Toyota's Plug-in Prius. At that time the internet and forums were abuzz with people clamoring for plug-in hybrids. Then Toyota did not introduce the car. For some reason it waited another 14 months. Finally it did launch the car and in April and November of 2012 more green car buyers chose the Toyota Prius Plug-in than any other electrified car. It happened again in October 2013 (this past year). On those three months the Prius outsold all the electric cars on the US market. Not combined, just on a direct one on one comparison basis. For the past twenty months the Prius Plug-in sold an average of 1,000 units per month. Mostly in California and other target markets where zero emission vehicles are mandated by state law or regulation. That makes it the fourth leading seller behind the Volt, Leaf, and Tesla Model S, which all have a run-rate of about 1,900 units per month in the US. The Prius Plug-in outsells the next competitor by almost a 2-to 1 ratio. That car is the Ford C-Max Energi.
This relatively flat growth curve for each model of EV and plug-in makes us wonder if the automakers are purposely holding down the availability of these vehicles (Tesla excluded) in order to only sell what they need to in order meet their regulatory obligations. That is not an original thought on our part. EV advocates have been saying this for some time. We exclude Tesla because by all measures the demand for the Model S is far outpacing the current production volume of this new automaker. We have no doubt that Tesla could easily sell many more Model S cars if it could make them. Indeed, we suspect it will do just that in 2014. The other automakers have no excuse. Toyota, GM, and Nissan can make as many EVs as they decide to.
What makes green car buyers choose the 2014 Prius Plug-in? Without re-writing the car’s sales pamphlet we will repeat exactly what Toyota says of the car. It is “the hybrid you love, now with a plug.” The upside of the Plug-in is that one can travel about 11 miles (according to Toyota) on electric power alone if fully charged. When that runs out, or if you drive onto the highway, it will simply turn back into a 50 MPG Prius, which is by far the leading selling green car on Earth. A lot of people must like something about the regular Prius models. It sold 222,000 of them last year.