General Motors Co. (GM:US)’s Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s plug-in Prius outsold Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s Leaf globally for the first time, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.
Deliveries of the Volt more than tripled to 30,090 units in 2012, the top seller among vehicles that need to be plugged in to a socket for recharging, according to yesterday’s report. It was followed by Toyota’s plug-in Prius, whose first-year sales of 27,181 units exceeded the 25,435 units of the Leaf, the leader in 2011, according to the report.
Total sales of all-electric and plug-in vehicles, which more than doubled last year, will probably increase 89 percent to 225,000 units in 2013, though that’s about one-third of the demand automakers had previously expected, according to the report. Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, who’s forecast that electric cars would account for at least 10 percent of auto sales by 2020, has struggled to attract consumers, with Leaf sales last year not even reaching half the number the company had previously targeted.
“The lower sales compared to prior forecasts are a disappointment to auto manufacturers and more significantly to their battery suppliers,” Ali Izadi-Najafabadi, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, wrote in the report.
The U.S. accounted for 46 percent of global sales of electric vehicles -- including plug-in hybrids -- while Japan and Europe were tied for second place with 23 percent, according to the report. China was the only market to shrink in 2012, it said.
Nissan, Japan’s second-largest automaker, said this week it’s putting its electric-vehicle business under the direct supervision of the chief operating officer. While it’s fallen behind the Volt, the Leaf in January became the first car in its category to reach cumulative sales of 50,000 units.
GM is working on an electric car that has a range of as much as 200 miles as the company targets having half a million vehicles on the road by 2017 with some form of electrification, Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said this month.
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