April EV Sales Notch 6th Record Month In Row For US As BMW Gets Back In The Game

1 year ago by Jay Cole 20

BMW's i3 and i8 Sales Came Back To Life In April (also of note, the i3 will be getting an all-electric range upgrade this summer to 114 miles)

BMW’s i3 and i8 Sales Came Back To Life In April (also of note: the i3 gets an upgrade to 114 miles of range for MY 2017)

A year ago when US electric vehicle sales were in the doldrums, waiting on both new offerings to arrive and for older models to get upgrades, we suggested patience…that 2016 and beyond would bring a virtually endless run of plug-in sales increases.

Despite A Refreshed Fusion Energi Out Soon, Ford Sold Enough Copies To Take Down The Nissan LEAF As The 3rd Best Selling EV In America

Despite A Refreshed Fusion Energi Out Soon, Ford Sold Enough Copies To Take Down The Nissan LEAF As The 3rd Best Selling EV In America

In so doing, we suggest for 2016 itself, 11 of 12 months should show record gains.

That one month we weren’t so sure about?  April – as the wider industry would have to make up for the “down month” at Tesla Motors.

As it turns out, not only was Tesla once again focusing on international production over the US for the first quarter of the month as we had anticipated, but a Model S refresh, Model X rear seat recall, and an added pre-delivery and “second layer” of quality control exasperated the sales situation this month.

Fortunately, help arrived from multiple sources…and in a big way!   10 differnt plug-in vehicles set new 2016 highs, and ~10,586 sales were logged in April, which was a 16.5% gain over the previous year’s 9,094 plug-ins sold.

At the forefront of the resurgence story was BMW – who after being the largest drag on EV sales during the first quarter of 2016, sold more i3s in April (813) than in all of January, February and March combined; while its X5 plug-in SUV sold a record 655 copies.  A big welcome back to BMW!

The Ford Fusion Energi was the second best selling plug-in last month, and in so doing slid past the struggling Nissan LEAF into the #3 spot overall…the first time the Nissan has ever been out of the medal positions.

Also catching us off guard this month was Chevy’s Spark EV, which thanks to California’s latest rebate program upgrade for the underpaid, can now be had for $0/month under the right circumstances.  GM sold over 400 of the small EVs in April, a new yearly high.

A strong (but expected) performance was again turned in by the Chevrolet Volt, which at 1,983 sold in April took home the monthly sales crown for the second time this year.

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

Other Statistical Points of Interest from April 2016

The what sold 400 copies in April? The Chevy Spark EV you say?

The what sold 400 copies in April? The Chevy Spark EV you say?

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. General Motors – 2,497
  2. Ford – 2,019
  3. Tesla Motors* – 1,650
  4. BMW – 1,624
  5. VW Group – 914
  6. Nissan – 787

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In April*

  1. PHEV – 6,328 – 59.7%
  2. BEV4,258 – 41.3%

New 12 Month Highs Set In April By Model (previous 12 month high in brackets)

  • Chevrolet Volt – 1,983 (1,865)
  • Ford Fusion Energi – 1,331 (1,238)
  • BMW i3 – 814 (332)
  • BMW X5 xDrive40e – 655 (345)
  • Chevrolet Spark EV – 419 (252)
  • Kia Soul EV – 139 (81)
  • BMW i8 – 130 (89)
  • Mercedes S550H – 25 (19)
  • BMW 330 – 24 (19)
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 6 (5)

(*) estimated

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

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20 responses to "April EV Sales Notch 6th Record Month In Row For US As BMW Gets Back In The Game"

  1. Speculawyer says:

    Nice. Considering the cheap gasoline prices and the Model 3 announcement, I was worried that sales would drop off heavily.

    1. Dragon says:

      I would expect sales to improve after model 3 announcement from people seeing that lots of others want an EV (nothing drives sales like peer pressure) and also seeing that model 3 is probably 3 years or more away if you didn’t already get on the reservation list. Plus finally knowing the model 3 details lets people stop waiting to see what model 3 will be and make a decision, and sometimes that decision will be to buy a different EV now.

      1. Nix says:

        Dragon — That sounds about right. What you are describing is the classic “Halo Car” effect that has been a staple of selling ICE cars for decades.

        And Musk even talked about that being one of the goals of Tesla’s unique plan for selling top end EV’s first, before working down to cheaper cars. He was open about the hopes that Tesla could prove that EV’s weren’t just glorified golf carts.

  2. Speculawyer says:

    Looks like a few people are learning that the BMW X5 PHEV exists.

    What horrible name: xDrive40e
    Hard to remember.

    1. David Murray says:

      I agree. I can’t imagine what they were thinking when they came up with that name.

      1. Dragon says:

        Maybe they hired a mathematician to design the name? X drives 40 exponential… aww heck, I don’t know.

      2. Josh Bryant says:

        I think BMW just automates the naming scheme.

        They just scrape the top function call in the firmware, and start building badges.

  3. PJ says:

    Unless tesla has a good month in May I’m not sure 2016 May is going to beat 2014 May. That was over 12k and I think with the new updated i3 being officially announced I think sells will be down a lot unless they offer big discounts. Also I think leaf sells could go even lower. Should be interesting to see if May 2016 beats 2014 and if so by how much

    1. voracity says:

      Leaf sales in April were lower than the i3. That’s odd for several reasons: price, range (107 vs 81) and (IMHO) look. Meanwhile, similarly low range cars like the Spark EV, e-Golf and 500e were all healthy.

      Something’s up (or should that be down) with those Leaf sales, and I don’t think it’s demand.

    2. TomArt says:

      Actually, according to the conference call, Model S orders jumped.

      Also, Tesla keeps producing in batches, presumably for efficiency/cost reasons. They have a bunch of export vehicles en route. That shows up in a reduced US sales number, increased “inventory”, and then a lopsided global sales bump when they reach foreign shores and are delivered in the next month/quarter.

  4. SparkEV says:

    SparkEV sold 920 in Apr. 2015 even without “free” offer. 419 this year is anticlimactic. Many media outlets talked about it last year when it was lowered to $139/mo, but very few mentioned low cost lease (practically free) this year. If they did, I suspect it would’ve sold far more. People just don’t know such low cost EV exist.

    419 is an interesting number. I wonder if they did that just to avoid 420.

    1. Daniel says:

      Yes many people do know, they just don’t happen to live in a state where the spark is available from my prospective the spark doesn’t even exist it’s purely compliance and it’s ugly besides and it’s not available in most of the United States or the world for that matter so get off the spark high horse already.

  5. Dragon says:

    I really really want to know how BMW could have sold 1422 i3s in Dec, then 200-330 Jan-Mar, then 814 again in April? I feel like there must be some huge factor influencing such wild swings but have not seen any plausible theories as to what that factor could be.

    1. Frank says:

      available stock?

    2. sven says:

      Allocating inventory between Europe and North America like Tesla does with its production.

    3. mike w says:

      During the November, December time frame BMW was offering a discounted lease price. The one dealer called me and was talking about $299 a (month)for an i3 Rex.

  6. Just_Chris says:

    Really interesting to look at the sales by manufacturer. Tesla and BMW sold almost the same, it would be great to see those two battle for this space. Especially if VW tried to take the lower end and Porsche the higher end of the luxury/over priced hatch back/performance ev market. A decent fight for the halo car market would help everyone and might even push GM into upping their aspirations a bit. Hopefully we’ll also see a bit of segmentation with Nissan, Kia, Toyota and others fighting it out for the sub $30k market, which currently doesn’t really exist.

    1. Ryan H says:

      BMW was only in the same ballpark because Tesla focuses production on international vehicles at the beginning of the quarter so their US numbers are always down.

  7. AddLightness says:

    Looks like Tesla is going sell more EVs in the US than the rest of the manufacturers combined starting in 2017 (maybe 150k+) and into the foreseeable future.

    Chevrolet could compete if they took Volt and Bolt sales/production more seriously. If they were really serious they’d make a crossover version of the Volt, but they won’t because it would sell like hotcakes. Just look at the Outlander PHEV.

    1. TomArt says:

      Good point – Mitsubishi has been uniquely positioned to take advantage of Mazda’s reluctance in bringing the Outlander PHEV to the US market…but they managed to blow that opportunity, as well…