PHEV sales trending at twice the rate of early hybrids

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The growth rate of US plug-in vehicle sales may be slowing, but things still look pretty good compared to where hybrids were about 15 years ago. That’s what the Chicago Tribune is saying, citing a group called Securing America’s Future Energy, so there’s a bit of rooting interest. Americans have bought more than 260,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids during the first four years of plug-in mass production. That compares to the approximately 100,000 hybrids sold during the first four years after the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight started hybrid sales in 1999.Either way, new-car tailpipe emissions are down 87 percent since 2000, while collective new-car fuel economy is approaching 26 miles per gallon (though it needs to hit about 40 mpg to meet federal requirements for 2025).

As for EVs, prices are coming down as battery costs drop and governments continue providing incentives. In fact, a new Nissan Leaf, including tax breaks, costs about $3,000 less than a Toyota Prius. And plug-ins are seemingly less impacted by fluctuations in gas prices than hybrids, whose sales have cooled as gasoline prices have dropped. For the 2016 model year, there will be about 30 plug-in vehicles in mass production, compared to about 70 hybrids.

Granted, sales have been plateauing for plug-ins, as the growth rate of PHEV sales in the US slowed to 28 percent last year from 55 percent in 2013. Still, that marked sales of almost 100,000 plug-ins sold in the US for 2014, and that doesn’t include the 25,000 or so Model S sedans that Tesla Motors sold last year stateside (Tesla doesn’t break out its US sales).

What do you think, will PHEV sales pick up in 2015, or will they continue to slide? Have your say in Comments.

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