Gas prices aren’t the only prices dropping these days. Automakers are cutting prices on their electric vehicles.
Despite strong sales early on, BMW recently announced buyers can lease an i3 for as low as $239 a month. However, just after that, Honda put out a new $199 lease for its Fit EV subcompact. The new lease price is a $60 a month cut from its previous offer of $259 a month.
It’s not just the leases prices. Heading into this year, Ford announced it was cutting the price of its Focus battery electric vehicle as well: by $6,000. The new starting price is $29,995 before any federal, state or local incentives are applied, which can cut the final price as much as $7,500. It was the second time the automaker cut the price on the Focus. It cut it $4,000 in 2013 hoping to drive sales then.
With gas prices at near record lows, an electric vehicle can be a tough sell these days and automakers needed to do something to spur sales. Fortunately, the price cuts appear to be having an impact.
According to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, sales of plug-ins (hybrids and pure battery electrics) are up slightly through the first two months of 2015 compared with year ago figures: 13,114 v. 12,950.
However, the good news ends when non-plug-in hybrids are lumped into the equation. The numbers dip on a year-over-year basis to 65,464 units through February this year compared with 70,596 for the same period last year.
The best-selling EV, the Nissan Leaf, saw a 12% jump from January to February, while BMW’s i3 put up good numbers: 1,089 in February. The Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius are both struggling with their plug-in models. Chevy sold 693 Volts last month and 542 in January while Toyota delivered 397 Priuses in February, down four units from January’s total of 401.
(EV battery costs dropping faster than expected. For more, Click Here.)
The surprise winner for the first two months of the year: Ford. The Dearborn, Michigan-based maker delivered 498 C-Max Energi compact hatchback plug-in hybrids, and 603 Fusion Energi mid-size sedans, plus 145 Focus Electrics.
Talking EV sales in January and February is tough to begin with as the months are traditionally the worst sales months for plug-ins. Some makers pointed to other reasons as well.
“Tough winter weather in several key markets held EV sales back in February. As we head into spring, we look forward to seeing more dealership traffic so shoppers can experience firsthand the benefits of the all-electric Nissan Leaf,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure, in a statement.
(Click Here for details gas prices remaining flat.)
While the low gas prices may be forcing makers to re-examine what they’re charging for these vehicles, one factor working in their favor is the fact that battery prices are coming down quickly.
Cells for electric vehicles fell about 14% a year from 2007 to 2014, according to a Stockholm Environment Institute study. Battery cell costs will fall about 8% a year. Based an analysis of more than 80 separate estimates of the costs of lithium-ion battery cells, the study found that estimates fell from more than $1,000 to around $410 per kilowatt-hour during 2007 and 2014.
(To see more about Mercedes planning to launch 10 plug-ins by 2017, Click Here.)
Navigant Consulting Inc. also recently told Bloomberg battery packs for electric vehicles, loaded with lithium-ion cells, now cost around $496 a kilowatt-hour, a 60% drop from 2010. That could plunge to $175 within five years, according to Sam Jaffe, an industry analyst with Navigant.