Electric Car Sales to Double in 2013

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Toyota also sells the RAV4 EV, which was co-engineered with Tesla. Only 2,600 will be made, and sales in late 2012 was off to a very slow start. Toyota will likely find some incentive to sell at least 1,000 of these in 2013.

Nissan LEAF: As with the Volt, the swing factor here is huge. Production of the much-improved 2013 model has just begun, and U.S. deliveries should begin by March. There is good reason to believe that sales will be above 1,000 per month after that. For all of 2013, I am assuming 18,000 units sold.

Ford: Three models are in the market, and the Focus Electric is unlikely to sell more than a couple of hundred per month. I am assuming 2,000 for the year. The C-Max and Fusion Energi models, however, are proving more popular. Their highly praised styling and silent operation are lauded by testers, and I think we can safely assume Ford will sell at least 1,000 of each, per month.

Tesla: The official plan is to sell 20,000 for the year, but demand is running ahead of the goal, so it should not be a problem for Tesla to sell 25,000 in 2013. Deposits supposedly exceed 18,000 already.

Honda: The plug-in hybrid Accord started sales just weeks ago, and it is difficult to estimate where this will go in 2013. To be conservative, I am assuming 500 per month, so 6,000 for the year. The all-electric Fit should also see a total of 500 in sales -- for the year.

Mitsubishi: Sales of the widely panned i-MiEV has been abysmal at under 100 cars per month. This is unlikely to change.

Fiat: Sales of the 500 Electric start later in the year. I think we can hope for 1,000 cars for the whole year.

BMW: Sales of the i3 begin late in the fourth quarter, and it's possible that BMW can sell as many as 2,000 right away before the year ends.

So let's add this up for 2013:

Chevrolet Volt: 30,000

Chevrolet Spark: 3,000

Toyota Prius Plug-In: 12,000

Toyota RAV4 EV: 1,000

Nissan LEAF: 18,000

Ford Focus Electric: 2,000

Ford C-Max Energi: 12,000

Ford Fusion Energi: 12,000

Tesla Model S: 25,000

Honda Accord Hybrid: 6,000

Honda Fit Electric: 500

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 500

Fiat 500 Electric: 1,000

BMW i3: 2,000

TOTAL estimate for 2013: 125,000

The total U.S. car market for 2013 is estimated at around 16 million. Therefore, the electric plug-in market would be 0.78% of the unit volume. Of course, as a percentage of revenue, the number would be higher, likely at 1% or more.

The average car today sells for approximately $30,000, but the average MSRP of these cars is of course much higher.

125,000 cars in 2013 would be more than double the little over 50,000 sold in 2012 and still a healthy growth rate over the 17,500 or so sold in 2011. Many people tend to still dismiss the electric car market, especially those who have never driven one. But this growth rate is strong.