U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf in August were the best in both vehicles history, as price cuts for electric cars helped boost interest.
General Motors said it sold 3,351 Volts in August after it announced a hefty price cut early in the month. GM slashed the price of its plug-in hybrid by $5,000, making it the latest automaker to lower prices of electric vehicles in the face of lagging consumer demand.
In Volt’s largest market, California, the vehicle had its best sales month with an increase of 80 percent compared to July. Other states saw growth as well including: Michigan, up 60 percent; Florida, up 133 percent; Illinois, up 148 and Virginia, up 182 percent, spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said. Some of those states offer EV owners perks, including single driver access to HOV lanes.
The Detroit-based automaker cut the base price 12.5 percent, from $39,995 to $34,995. The price cut came just weeks after the automaker announced a $5,000 incentive on the 2012 Volt and $4,000 on the 2013 model. The 2014 Volt arrived in dealer showrooms this month, GM said. It will be offered in two additional colors — Ashen Gray Metallic and Brownstowne Metallic — and with a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
In August, Nissan sold 2,420 Leafs, up 253 percent, for its best month.
Sales of Nissan’s all-electric Leaf have jumped since the Japanese automaker lowered the base price by 18 percent, to $28,800 for the 2013 model year. Nissan also added extra cargo room, and for higher-end trims, an on-board charger that reduces electric charging times by half.
Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at online research site Edmunds.com, said the price cuts have worked. “General Motors and Nissan showed this month that announcing price cuts drive sales.”
Automakers must sell a limited number of zero-emission vehicles to meet California regulations. California continues to be Volt’s largest market.
In July, Ford Motor Co. said it would trim the price of its slow-selling Focus EV by $4,000 for the 2014 model year. The old price of the Focus EV was $39,200; the new price is $35,200. Ford also offered lease discounts of more than $10,000 and $2,000 off the base price for cash purchases.
Honda Motor Co. said in May it will pare the monthly lease price of its Fit EV from $389 to $259 a month and reduce by $130 a month the cost of existing Fit EV leases. The revised lease has unlimited mileage.
Most EVs are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.