Almost 25,000 EVs Sold As December 2016 Crushes Sales Records In The US

5 months ago by Jay Cole 62

The surpise winner of December 2016 sales? The Chevrolet Volt selling a record 3,691 copies

The surpise winner of December 2016 sales? The Chevrolet Volt selling a record 3,691 copies

Where to start?  December was a month for the record books when it came to plug-in vehicle sales in the United States.

In total, an estimated ~24,785 plug-in vehicles were sold in America – up 81%, and far besting the previous high of 17,224 set earlier this year in September.

For the full year, ~159,139 sales were achieved, good for a 40,000+ gain, or 37%.

Looking at December’s plug-in scales in the larger picture, EVs took home 1.47% of all auto sales in the US for the month.  Put another way, that means 1 out of every 87 vehicles sold in America in December…came with a plug!

Tesla's Fremont facility had some difficulty getting AP2 enabled cars out to consumers in both October and November...which lead to a very inflated December result in the US

Tesla’s Fremont facility had some difficulty getting AP2 enabled cars out to consumers in both October and November…which lead to a very inflated December result in the US

Even more significantly, almost all the major plug-in offerings set new 2016 highs (see full list below), many all-time highs – with the newcomers putting up strong contributions despite just arriving to the US, still with limited availability.

Leading the push was Tesla.  Desperate to produce and deliver as many Model S and Model X as possible in the US to hit Q4 global sales estimate (after seeing production pile-up in both October and November thanks to some difficulties transitioning to AutoPilot 2 hardware), the company moved nearly 10,000 EVs domestically in total in December.

Also strongly contributing was General Motors, as the Chevrolet Volt set a new all-time high, closing in on the 4,000 sold mark, while the new Chevrolet Bolt EV sold close to 600 copies despite only being available the week after Christmas.

And just as a further word on EV sales in the US this year and momentum…it was very strong in the second half, and means big things are ahead for 2017..  For the first six months of 2016, sales were up 19% (64,702 vs 54,347), but the second half is when things really got going – up 53% (94.437 vs 61,752).

First Chevrolet Bolt EV deliveries (seen here with the "Woz") managed to secure the 2nd best all-time debut mark!

First Chevrolet Bolt EV deliveries (seen here with the “Woz”) managed to secure the 2nd best all-time debut mark!

How does the Bolt EV’s debut month stack up all-time?

  1. Toyota Prius Prime – 781
  2. Chevrolet Bolt EV – 589
  3. BMW i3 – 336
  4. Chevrolet Volt – 326
  5. Fiat 500e – 200*
  6. Mercedes Benz C350e – 171

There was also some other happenings of significance during the last month of the year:

The 2017 C-Max Energi is slightly refreshed, has a couple more miles range, and a better price-point...which naturally leads to more sales!

The 2017 C-Max Energi is slightly refreshed, has a couple more miles range, and a better price-point…which naturally leads to more sales!

*- Ford C-Max Energi set a new all-time record, selling a surprising 1,289 copies (previous high this year was just 755 cars sold),

*- Audi A3 e-tron also put old sales results into the wood-chipper by posting near 600 sales in December,

*- Toyota Prius Prime followed up the strongest debut ever for a new plug-in offering (see chart above), but improving to 1,641 sales in December despite a very limited allocation for the US during the month

*- the ‘prodigal son’, the Mercedes Benz C350e, originally promised to arrive in the US some 15 months ago (and oft-delayed) made its appearance in December, and sold a solid 171 copies – the sixth best debut month ever for a new plug-in.

*- the not-quite-so-slow arriving (but not winning any awards for punctuality either) BMW 740e also managed to post a few initial sales this month – making BMW the first OEM with 5 different plug-in offers in the US

A couple of luxury brands brought new offerings to the US in December: the Mercedes Benx C350e (shown above) and the BMW 740e

A couple of luxury brands brought new offerings to the US in December: the Mercedes Benx C350e (shown above) and the BMW 740e

And what year end would be complete with a list of major plug-in offerings that were promised, or expected to show in 2016, but did not?

  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Hyundai IONIQ Electric
  • Hyundai IONIQ Plug-In
  • Mercedes E350e
  • Optima PHEV

Here is a final look at the 2016 plug-in vehicle sales chart for the United States:

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers, NA for X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers, NA for X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from December 2016

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* 9,725
  2. General Motors – 4,290
  3. Ford – 2,489
  4. Nissan – 1,899
  5. BMW – 1,756
  6. Toyota – 1,641
  7. VW Group – 1,187
Tesla pins the flag on 2016 EV sales with a huge December

Tesla pins the flag on 2016 EV sales with a huge December

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In December*

  1. BEV – 14,144 – 57.1%
  2. PHEV – 10,641 -42.9%

New Year Highs Set In December By Model (previous 2016 high in brackets)

  • Tesla Model S – 5,850 (4,350)
  • Tesla Model X – 3,875 (3,200)
  • Chevrolet Volt – 3,691 (2,531)
  • Nissan LEAF – 1,899 (1,457)
  • Toyota Prius Prime – 1,641 (781)
  • Ford C-Max Energi – 1,289 (755)
  • Audi A3 e-tron – 589 (394)
  • Chevrolet Bolt – 579 (debut)
  • BMW 33oe – 240 (215)
  • Mercedes C350e – 171 (debut)
  • Mercedes GLE 550e – 83 (30)
  • BMW 740e – 23 (debut)

(*) estimated

The full monthly recap by individual plug-in can be found on our Monthly Scorecard here.

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80 responses to "Almost 25,000 EVs Sold As December 2016 Crushes Sales Records In The US"

  1. VazzedUp says:

    Looking good for over a quarter million sales in 2017…

    1. WadeTyhon says:

      I sure hope so! I think combined GM and Tesla sales can get us at minimum halfway to 250K all on their own next year.

    2. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

      EV sales have increased at a annual rate of only 17.75% since 2012, the first year that the Model S, Leaf, and Volt were all on sale for the entire year (2012 sales of 52,607 x 117.75% x 117.75% x 117.75% x 117.75% = 159,191). A 17.75% increase for 2017 would result in 187,386 sales. But we’re all expecting the Bolt, Prius Prime, Ioniq EV & PHEV and perhaps other new offerings to be higher volume sellers that will push sales well past just a 17.75% increase. It’s gonna be a fun year for EV sales watching. 🙂

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Perhaps 17.75% increase if averaged out for all years since 2012, but the increase last year — in the North American market — was 37.07%!

        We EV advocates keep hoping that PEV (Plug-in EV sales will enter the classic “S-curve” of a disruptive tech revolution, with sustained exponential growth for several years in a row until PEVs dominate the market. Unfortunately it’s only in hindsight that we’ll be able to tell if and when that has really started.

        1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

          Yeah but last year, 2015, was a down year that saw sales decrease 5.2% from the 2014 total. 2014 had sales of 122,438, while 2015 had sales of only 116,099. So that means that EV sales grew only 14% per year from 2014 to 2016 (122,438 x 114% x 114% = 159,120).

          1. Dan says:

            Even successful technologies don’t go through a disruptive S curve growth. The closest analogy for an electric car is LED lights. They never quite took over the market in spite of being superior to incandescent lights. They are still struggling for market share with CFLs and until a few years ago, efficiency gains in incandescent lights were keeping up enough to fend off the challenge. It was only when the government mandated that incandescent lights be phased out that their market share grew. So, if you’re dreaming of an all electric future, my guess is that you’ll be dreaming for quite a long time. It’ll mostly come down to personal preference for at least a few decades if not more.

            1. speculawyer says:

              I disagree. I think LED lights would be killing incandescents right now without any government move. But I’m glad there was such a move since it reduced a lot of pollution.

            2. leafowner says:

              I disagree as well – LED’s are finally cost competitive with CFLs and make sense to buy versus the cheaper incandescent bulbs. It was just a matter of time. BTW – only high wattage bulbs have been banned – the 60W bulb is still around.

            3. Robert Middleswarth says:

              LED took a while to take off because there cost was more then $20 vs $1 even if they lasted 20x longer the cost difference was so great more people stuck with the Incandescent Bulbs. Now that the prices of LED has gone down allot and the price of the remaining Incandescent Bulbs are higher. That is why LED market share is growing.

          2. Doggydogworld says:

            Three of 2014’s top four models walked away from the US market in 2015, at least in part.

            -GM slowed Volt production in prep for new model (Jan-Sep sales down 36%)
            -Nissan backed away and focused Leaf on international markets where range and battery cooling weren’t big issues (full year sales down 43%)
            -Toyota went back to the drawing board on Prius PHV/Prime (full year sales down 68%)

            Toyota is finally back in the game and if Nissan starts selling Leaf 2 by midyear the US market should move back toward the trend line in 2017.

  2. PJ says:

    Dam I know it was going to be over 20k a few months ago but I didn’t know it was going to be that high. Also the streak of 6 new models for the year continues, I think next year will end the streak with more than 6 new models. I also think we have seen the last of the sub 10k months. January and February might be close but I think they will cross that barrier, and onward to a year total of 250k. Also do you mean GLC 350e?

  3. fotomoto says:

    I think Trump can inadvertently claim some responsibility for these great December sales figures.

    Since the summer convention, EVERY hybrid forum I read has a lot of talk about the tax credit vanishing under his admin. His appointee nominations (mainly Perry and the Exxon CEO) along with talk of abolishing the EPA helped fuel it.

    1. Assaf says:

      Agreed. Whether or not it will happen is moot; what mattered for December is how many people were worried about it enough to go and get/upgrade an EV earlier than planned.

      In the same vein, I won’t be surprised if January-February see a deeper than usual slump. The Bolt and Prime (and any bunny pulled out of Carlos’ hat tonight) can help mitigate that, though.

    2. Trollnonymous says:

      If the dude with jacked up hair is going get rid of the tax credits, then he needs to get rid of the damn Gas subsidies as well.

    3. Bill Howland says:

      All the tax credit and financial shows on talk radio on weekends seem to be expecting TRUMP to lobby for a huge tax decrease for the Middle Class.

      IF THAT is so, then there will deFacto be many fewer people who can take advantage of a $7500 credit which must be used in the same calender year.

      They are all saying that anyone making less than $50,000 a year will pay no Federal Income Tax. I wish I could say the same for the state tax.

  4. ClarksonCote says:

    Jay, how many 740e sales? The chart says 23 but the text of new highs says 17?

    Thanks!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Whoops, my bad…chart is always right – magic number for the BMW 740e is 23

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Nice, thanks! Hopefully next month it’ll be 230 instead of 23 😉

        1. Jay Cole says:

          It should be at least that high eventually.

          BMW sells about 1,000 of the petrol 7-series each month, and the an odd quirk of BMW pricing and the fed rebate actually makes the 740e cheaper than the gassers.

          If stocked properly it is not inconceivable they could sell 300-400 of them a month.

          …with that being said, the same “inventory” situation has been going on all year with the 330e, which easily should be selling well north of 500 units a months by now, if not in 4 digits.

          1. ClarksonCote says:

            Yeah, the key is “if stocked properly” 😉

  5. 49,574 EVs delivered in Q4 2016, has to be on of best quarters.

  6. unlucky says:

    Crushed it. Wish I could have been one of them. Come on Bolt, get here!

  7. Nix says:

    I got really happy reading this story, and then I checked China’s EV sales numbers for perspective….

    I gotta quit doing that. It’s just frustrating.

  8. Mister G says:

    Nothing to be excited about here…when EV sales reach 250k per month in the USA that will be EXCITING AND GREAT TO WITNESS

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Some people, and especially EV bashers, will always be moving the goal posts on how fast the EV revolution is advancing. But that’s not so say you personally are a basher just because of this one post, Mister G.

      PEVs are now between 1-2% of global new car sales. When we get to 2%, the bashers will sneer and say it’s less than 5%. When we get to 5% they’ll sneer and say it’s less than 10%. When we get to 10% they’ll sneer and say it’s less than 25%. When we get to 25%… well, by then nobody will be listening to the bashers anymore! We’ll just be laughing at the few desperate die-hard bashers left. 🙂

      1. John says:

        Don’t forget. The 7,500 Tax Credit came around during the Bush administration, I’m not a Trump supporter, I’m just saying I have no idea how the government works!

        1. Ziv says:

          George Bush pushed for and signed into law The Energy Security Act of 2007. It is all how you package it!

  9. Assaf says:

    I’ll re-iterate what I wrote yesterday that the December numbers seem to be at least somewhat pushed up by a “Trump Effect”.

    Even though it would be unseemly to nix Federal credit in 2017 when the tax year had started and when 2 automakers are en route to reach 200k in 2018 anyway, I don’t think it’s illegal.

    Besides I’m not sure everybody is doing the full legalistic introspection, they just realize a pro-fossil President was just elected and is already stacking his cabinet with fossil-industry people. So if they’re on the fence about buying/upgrading an EV, December 2016 is the last month they know they’re guaranteed to get that rebate.

    I guesstimate this effect might account for 2-4k of the nearly 25k sales last months. Everyone was expecting 20k to be broken, but I don’t think many people saw 25k in the cards.

    1. WadeTyhon says:

      You’re right that it would be unseemly and very unlikely – it goes against the convictions of pretty much every wing of the conservative party.

      But I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry. So if someone uses this as justification to finally pull the trigger on a first EV then I won’t complain. 🙂

      While Jan and Feb sales will be no where near December levels, I think they will be up a lot from last year at the same time.

    2. Robert Middleswarth says:

      I kinda of agree with what you are saying. It is unlikely they will go away but people aren’t always rational so it wouldn’t surprise me if people bought a car believing it was going away even though the changes of it going way were near zero doesn’t mean there weren’t people who believed it was going away. Hell there are people who still believe Elvis is alive and that you can write him and he will reply.

  10. leafowner says:

    What happened to the plug in Chrysler van?

    1. Assaf says:

      I believe it starts selling this year; didn’t quite make it for December, it seems.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Production on the plug-in Pacifica Hybrid started November 28th, 2016.

        But as I understand it, Chrysler with the industry-wide overstock situation, as part of that didn’t want to consider shipping a new product in December.

        Just as FYI/related, Chrysler announced in week 3 of December they were extending the planned week-long “winter shutdown” to now run from the ~23rd of December through Monday, January 9th. So we are probably looking at a ETA of ~week 4 now on the Pacifica Hybrid.

        1. leafowner says:

          Thanks Jay – you had it on you “Arriving” list all last month so I was wondering why it just vanishes. I don’t trust anything Chrysler does anyway…..

          1. Jay Cole says:

            There was only ever the possibility of a handful showing up in December close the facility – so its not a huge loss.

            Once Chrysler changed plans/plant closures specific to Windsor and the Pacifica on ~Dec 16th, we knew it wasn’t going to happen.

            Fortunately, some other plug-ins seem to have picked up the slack, (=

  11. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

    In hindsight, having a line for “Other” in the sales chart didn’t save any space. 😉

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Think of it as a “placeholder”, we generally get ‘fringe’ reports on full year sales (that were not previously known) sometime in the next year that we have to put back on the 2016 chart

      ie) straggling early Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1, etc sales

  12. David Murray says:

    You know, it is kind of sad when you look at the Bolt on the list of sales for the month. Then you realize that despite only being available for one week, it still out-sold 8 other models for the entire year.

    Also, I think I can now safely say to the naysayers of the Prius Prime, I told you so! I knew that model would sell well. Maybe it is only because the regular Prius is so undesirable with the new bodystyle and the fact that the Prime can be bought as cheap or cheaper. Nevertheless, it is going to be a big seller. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see 3,000 to 5,000 per month once it is fully stocked at all Toyota dealerships.

    1. J P DeCaen says:

      GM top execs must be livid about how well received the Bolt is!

      1. bogdan says:

        The Bolt will be a succes.
        Just compare it with its rivals I3, Leaf, Ioniq – EV Golf and Focus are not worth to mention, VW and Ford must be losing real money on them.

        Compared to I3
        – double the range
        – same price
        – same performance
        – same size

        Compared to Leaf
        – double the range
        – a bit more expensive but
        – much more performance
        – same size

        Enough benchmarking. The range is the most important criteria in buying BEV. And the Bolt has Tesla range for the price of an I3.

        1. mx says:

          On the leaf you cannot get the advanced safety features: Automatic Cruise Control, Collision prevention, Pedestrian alert.

          GM is on the ball.
          It’s just the price, it’s high.

  13. Doggydogworldc says:

    Don’t they teach you in greenwriting school never to use “EV” and “Crush” in the same headline 🙂

  14. Bill Engelke says:

    What’s up with the chart entitled “Here is a final look at the 2016 plug-in vehicle sales chart for the United States” – ? It states Tesla sold 29,421 Model S, and 18,223 Model X, adding up to 47,644 vehicles; however, in Tesla’s 4th quarter briefing, they stated that they had sold 76,230. Why the huge discrepancy?

    1. Mikael says:

      Tesla is a global company 😉

      76,230 is all their sales for the year.

    2. John says:

      There’s a world outside the US.

      1. bogdan says:

        I don’t believe that nonesense that the earth is not flat.
        In my opinion the earth is flat and has 4 corners outside of US!

  15. fasterthanonecanimagine says:

    Plug-ins 1%+ of total U.S. car sales in second half of 2016. I’m hoping for several months with a 2%+ EV share in 2017.

  16. Bob Nan says:

    Apart from setting an all time high in Dec, the 1% market share also has been breached.
    As usual the last month of every quarter sees a very high sales because of Tesla selling at a high point. From a previous high of 17,224 in Sep, it has jumped more than 7,000 # to a new high of 24,785 and this is a huge jump. Even the 2016 sales increased by more than 40,000 units compared to 2015 despite the very cheap gas prices.

    Another interesting point is that the 2016-YTD Worldwide now stands at 664,437 (11 months) which is at least 100,000 more than the 2015 Worldwide sales or around 550,000 units. (12 months). I am sure the 750,000 mark will be crossed and this is the first time in history that Plugin/EV sales crossed the 1% mark of all auto sales combined.

    As the prices of battery goes down and more models like Ioniq, Niro and other models with increased range and decreasing prices come up, the 1,000,000 mark should be hit in 2017.

  17. Bob Nan says:

    Hi Jay Cole

    Did Fiat really sell 650 units of 500e given a high price tag of $31,800 which is more than bigger cars like Leaf, Focus-EV, Soul-EV, eGolf and so on.

    Fiat 500e is just a 2+2. Only 2 kids less than 5 years old can sit in the back seat.

    Regards

  18. Bob Nan says:

    Is Volt a surprise winner?
    Tesla is always the expected winner in the last month of every quarter. Even if Tesla sells somewhat lesser units than Volt, it should be the winner since it can be driven even in long distance purely on electricity rather than Volt which can go only 53 miles on electricity.

    1. David Murray says:

      I find it odd how people refer to the Volt and say “only 53 miles.” Yet, name any PHEV with more range than the Volt. You can’t, except for the BMW i3 Rex, but that vehicle has limited performance when running on gas, so not a direct comparison. So the Volt is really at the top of the PHEV game when it comes to EV range.

    2. mx says:

      And the Volt with all options, is cheaper than the Bolt.

  19. JyBicycleOrTesla says:

    Reality check!

    Americans Bought A Record 17.54 Million New Vehicles In 2016.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      In the USA, sales of PEVs are only about 1% of the market. That fact may be news to you, altho it’s well-known to all the regular readers here.

      But thanks for your interest.

      1. JyBicycleOrTesla says:

        Regular reader? WTF you talking about Mr Kansas, no car owning man?

  20. Stuart22 says:

    All the hubbub about who’s got the record for the the most debut month sales is foolish. IEVs ought to realize there will always be an asterisk next to the sales number for any vehicle in the debut month because there will always be a variability as to the number of days during a given month a brand new car will be available to buy.

    Why has IEVs chosen to build up the Toyota Prime as something more desirable than it really is?

    1. BenG says:

      The Prime is pretty sweet. Better efficiency, interior space, and reliability than the Volt, and cheaper to boot.

      It’s the cheapest Prius out there, if you can use the whole tax credit.

      A Toyota executive said they wanted to Prime to take off like the second generation Prius did. That’s 100,000+ in annual sales.

      I’m not sure they get there with this first model of the Prime, but I think in 2 years we’ll see a refresh of the Prime that brings 5 seats and a slight bump in efficiency and performance with EV range to 30 miles. They could sell a ton of those.

      We’ll see, I think as long as the tax credit makes it the cheapest Prius, it will sell as fast as they can produce them and maybe they can hit 10,000+ sold in December 2017.

  21. Steve says:

    The anti-Tesla reporting on this website is becoming totally disgusting.

    The surprise sales winner is the car that falls from #1 to the #2 position? What about the #1 position? Tesla was the first EV of any type to sell more than 5,000 in a month – according to your guesswork – but you don’t report that. You call Tesla “desperate” and describe them having “difficulties” – but nowhere do you say they’re the number one, no props, no congratulations, and certainly nothing about the fact that they’re #1 despite being the most expensive car on the chart with an ASP over $90,000. Nowhere do you mention any of this. Just “desperate,” “difficulties,” and in your monthly sales report, missing their own sales numbers – even though their deliveries grew massively between 2015 and 2016.

    Please give it up already, and start lauding Tesla’s achievements.

    1. Bert says:

      I don’t agree with you, this website is a great source of information for both plug-in enthousiasts and Tesla enthousiasts.

      Tesla being a winner in 2016 was no surprise. The surprise was that the Volt managed to sell 65% more cars then previous year. I’m not sure where you see that the Volt was the surprise winner, maybe the wording could have been different in that case. But please don’t attack the people behind this site for small mistakes, they are putting a huge effort into it and doing a great job overall.

      (BTW, I’m a Tesla Model 3 reservation holder, so I’m mainly a Tesla enthousiast)

  22. M Hovis says:

    So in the end, six new entries again for 2016. Wierd.

    Great closing numbers. The Chinese government declared 8% by 2018, and 12% by 2020. Hope the US holds up their end of the EV market.Can’t wait until the US numbers grow to 5%. There are still those oblivious to the EV market. When 1-in-20 vehicles are electric, it will be almost impossible to be unaware, even for those who choose otherwise.

  23. Bert says:

    Tesla’s market share is rising quickly in the US but stays flat worldwide.

    US
    2014: 14 %
    2015: 22 %
    2016: 33 %

    Worldwide
    2014: 10 %
    2015: 9 %
    2016: 10 %

    I guess that’s because of china?
    And maybe a bit because of some european models selling well in europe but not selling in US?

  24. Matt says:

    By my calculation, this is about 1.5% market share of the TOTAL US vehicle market for December, but if you just compare cars, it’s just over 3%.
    1 out of every 33 cars sold in December was a plugin.

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