Electric Vehicles Have Best Sales Month Ever in June

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A Nissan Leaf electric car charges up.

There are now more than 100,000 electric vehicles on U.S. roads. A new report from the boosters at the Electrification Coalition hails increasing -- if still small -- EV sales and lays out some optimistic projections. 

According to the report, at 8,742 units sold, June sales were the biggest ever for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. 

That's still a tiny fraction of overall vehicle sales, which were more than 1.4 million in June 2013. But the Electrification Coalition, an advocacy group promoting electric cars, urges a comparison not between EVs and gas-powered cars, but between EVs and hybrids back when they were first introduced in 2000.

According to the report: "Compared to hybrids’ first years on the U.S. market, twice as many plug-in electric vehicles have been sold since market introduction in 2011" during an equivalent time period... The uptake rate of plug-in electric vehicles is nearly three times what it was for hybrids over their first three years on the market."

There are fewer than 8,000 U.S. locations with charging stations and 18,348 plugs total. Just 199 locations have the direct current fast chargers that could make refilling a battery convenient for a long drive. 

Tesla’s Model S was specifically cited for capturing 8.4 percent of the luxury market in the first six months of 2013, and selling more units than some in-class competitors, including the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, and Mercedes S class. The Nissan LEAF is the best selling EV overall with 3.3 percent of the sub-compact vehicle market.

Additionally, the report charts the reductions in cost of lithium-ion batteries, which are the reason EVs cost more than comparable gas-powered cars. "The progress of battery cost reductions appears to be par with—or slightly ahead of—what was expected in 2010," says the report, leading the Electrification Coalition to conclude that battery prices will halve by 2020 as originally projected by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a partner in the report. 

If that plays out along, then EV prices would drop. "It is also possible that [equipment makers] will choose to increase the range of the vehicles instead of maintaining the range and decreasing vehicle prices," the report states.