Milestone: U.S reaches 100,000 plug-in vehicles sold

Volt and LEAF
CC BY 3.0 Flickr

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

By extrapolating the monthly sales numbers a bit, Plug-In America (a non-profit advocacy group that was originally formed to protest the destruction of the EV1, among other things) has projected that the 100,000th plug-in vehicle will have been sold in the U.S. today.

Because this is an estimate, we can't know who bought plug-in number 100,000, or even if today's the day for sure (maybe it was yesterday, or it'll be tomorrow), but it's still an important symbolic milestone. In 2011, the first full year with the current crop of plug-ins on the market, fewer than 20,000 were sold. In 2012, that number tripled to over 50,000. And it's currently expected that more than 100,000 plug-in will be sold in 2013 alone. Not a bad growth rate for a technology that is still maturing (like personal computers in the 1980s or cellphones in the 1990s).

Toyota Prius Plug-in PHEV© Toyota
Plug-In America writes:

Highlights related to this historic moment:
  • Over a quarter-million people are exposed daily to the benefits of electric transportation
  • Nissan dealerships in some markets have reported that the Leaf has outsold all other Nissan models for particular sales periods this year
  • Tesla's Model S is outselling the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 series and the Audi A8
  • Chevy Volt drivers alone have logged over 187-million electric miles
  • The plug-in vehicle market is approaching 48 percent annual growth with both Battery Electric (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) vehicles finding growing interest
  • Plug-in vehicle adoption exceeds the adoption of hybrid vehicles over the same timeframe in their market developments
  • The domestic EV fleet now offers over 2,000 megawatts of battery storage, which may offer significant opportunities for the future management of our electrical grid and the increasing role of intermittent renewable energy sources
  • Manufacturers making EVs now include Nissan, Tesla, GM, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, and Fiat. These plug-in cars have received a wealth of consumer and industry awards

Electric car chargingYoutube/Screen capture

This is good progress, though I believe that it's still early days for plug-ins. A few more years and prices will come down significantly thanks to economies of scale and incremental improvement in battery technology (breakthroughs are not needed, though they could make things even better than we expect). We've already seen it start to happen. At some point it just won't make much sense for most people to go with gas-only models...

Not that electric cars and plug-in hybrids are a panacea. I think alternatives to driving should be pursued aggressively; making cities more walkable and bike-friendly, improving public transit, making telecommuting possible where it makes sense, etc. But as long as there are cars out there - and in some places (esp. rural), they will make sense for a long-time - they should have as little impact on the environment as possible.

Via Plug-in America

See also: New York City launches LEAF taxi pilot program, wants 1/3 electric taxis by 2020

Milestone: U.S reaches 100,000 plug-in vehicles sold
In 2011, the first full year with the current crop of plug-ins on the market, fewer than 20,000 were sold.

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