December 2014 EV Sales Hit Record High In US – Almost 120,000 Sold For Year

1 year ago by Jay Cole 39

Not Often Seen In December: An Empty Tesla Sales Boutique

Not Often Seen In December: An Empty Tesla Sales Boutique

It Is Only 2 Seats, It Comes In Convertible...And Smart Sold 351 One Of Them In Winter!

It Is Only 2 Seats, It Comes In Convertible…And Smart Sold 351 One Of Them In Winter!

The books on the 2014 year for sales closed in a big way in December as a new record for plug-in vehicles was set.

For the month an estimated total of 12,874 EVs were sold in America, which bested the previous high of just over 12,000 set earlier this year in March. As always, Tesla refuses to break out individual monthly sales so there is a still the potential for a little variance in that number as we are forced to compile their sales based on the data that is available to us.

That being said, Tesla sold a lot of cars in December (mostly the new P85Ds that went into production in late November) – we put their sales at 3,500 Model S sedans, which was not only good for top performer of the month, but the best single month result for any EV to date in the US.

Editor’s Note:  For more info on the how and why behind Tesla’s big month check out our recap for the company inside our monthly sales scorecard

Not to be out done, Nissan sold 3,102 LEAFs themselves, just off their own all-time high of 3,186, which was set in August. For the year, the Nissan LEAF became the first EV to sell more than 30,000 copies (30,200) in any calendar year, in any country.

December also showed the greatest splits in favor of the pure electric vehicle (BEV) over the plug-in hybrids/extended rangers (PHEV), with the BEVs taking an almost 2:1 advantage.

For the year an estimated 119,710 plug-in vehicles were sold, good for a 23% increase from 2013 when 97,501 were purchased according to our records.

The Nissan LEAF Is Selling Well You Say?  What Gave It Away?  (hat tip to Scott f)

The Nissan LEAF Is Selling Well You Say? What Gave It Away? (hat tip to Scott f)

It Appears That The Arrival Of The Cayenne S E-Hybrid Is Merely Taking Sales From Sister Panamera Plug-In For Porsche

It Appears That The Arrival Of The Cayenne S E-Hybrid Is Merely Taking Sales From Sister Panamera Plug-In For Porsche

There was a few other pleasant surprises during December:

  • 6 models hit yearly highs
  • the smart ED sold 351 copies – which represents 36% of the total sales for the smart brand
  • the BMW i3 returned to 4 digits (1,013) for the month
  • the Mercedes B-Class ED finally showed some life after only selling 448 cars in its first 5 months on the market, 326 were sold in December
  • VW doubled e-Golf sales (237) in the EV’s second month on the market

Unfortunately, not all was great, and there was disappointments as well:

  • the Chevrolet Volt and Prius PHV both underwhelmed for the 4th consecutive month as their parent companies’ pretty much both signalled they were going to burn off the months (by not producing cars) until their respective next generation vehicles debuted in 2016
  • the Ford Focus EV, despite a $6,000 MSRP cut two month ago (down to $29,995) AND throwing thousands more on the hood, managed to sell only 53 copies /woof
  • and Porsche learned that the new (and $20,000 cheaper) plug-in Cayenne is basically just cannibalizing Panamera S e-Hybrid sales
  • the Mitsubishi i-MiEV

(More stats below 2014 sales chart)

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals from Earnings Report (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers, Q2 7,579 total-approx reported International registrations, Q3 7,785 total deliveries ~ 3,900 US) *Fiat 500e data estimated for Jan/Feb

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals from Earnings Report (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers, Q2 7,579 total-approx reported International registrations, Q3 7,785 total deliveries ~ 3,900 US) *Fiat 500e data estimated for Jan/Feb

  (The full monthly recap as well as prior year’s historical charts can be found on our “Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard” here)

Some Other Points Of Interest For December 2014:

Mercedes B-Class ED Sales Are Show Some Life In December As More Inventory Arrives In The US

Mercedes B-Class ED Sales Are Show Some Life In December As More Inventory Arrives For The US

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla Motors – 3,500*
  2. Nissan – 3,102
  3. General Motors – 1,739
  4. Ford – 1,501
  5. BMW – 1,171

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In October*

  1. BEV – 8,416 – 65.3%
  2. PHEV – 4458 – 34.7%

New Individual Yearly Highs Set In December (previous high in brackets):

  • Tesla Model S3,500* (2,500*) – all time high
  • smart ED351 (313) – all time high
  • Mercedes B-Class ED325 (193) – all time high
  • Honda Accord PHV63 (46)
  • Volkswagen e-Golf237 (119) – all time high
  • Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid55 (45) – all time high

What lies ahead for next year?  How high can EV sales go?  What will be the stories and cars that define 2015?

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39 responses to "December 2014 EV Sales Hit Record High In US – Almost 120,000 Sold For Year"

  1. John F says:

    Credit really needs to go to the LEAF for getting the ball rolling on EVs and to Tesla for getting lots of press for the EV revolution. No matter the price of gasoline, EVs are here to stay and there is no turning back. The EVs will not be crushed again!

    1. LuStuccc says:

      Don’t fall asleep on the switch. 23% increase is nothing to brag about. Remove the genuine efforts of Tesla and there is not much progress left.

      Iin my book we should be on an exponential curve right now, but establish car makers stop production (volt) create a fool cell diversion(toyota), sabotage their car(BMW i3 REx), do not advertise much, are still hiding most cars from customers and produce very small amouts of BEVs to only “comply” even if the new model perform just a little better than others (KIA).
      And half of this is in reaction to Tesla!

      And for the good news, everyone who ever own an EV will never want to go back, and continue telling people about the many qualities of EVs. Mouth to ear is essential!

      1. Leptoquark says:

        I agree, we’re still in the first or second inning of a long game. I do lots of public events with my Leaf as part of my car club (www.evadc.org), and judging from the questions I get, we have a long way to go. I’m definitely seeing more Leafs, Volts, Model S’s and i3’s in my area, but for the vast majority of the public, anything not an ICE car is lumped in the category of “hybrid”. And it took years even for that image to get established.

        So, take heart, there is still lots of education to be accomplished, and neighbors to be spoken to. We need to be prepared for the next crisis, even with $50 oil.

        1. Just_chris says:

          $50 a barrel is the beginning of the next crisis, all those loans taken out to pay for infrastructure based on $80+ a barrel are looking pretty risky right now even if all the major players stay a float this will starve further investment causing big problems in 5 years.

    1. Tech01x says:

      Great, but if he did almost all the driving at 20-40 mph, it isn’t as impressive. They never show the car traveling at highway speeds. They released almost no real data to understand their result.

      1. Alan says:

        The M4 Motorway is high speed (70mph) although they didn’t say what speed he was travelling and for how far they travelled on it, still impressive that they could have travelled around 134 miles given the terrain and temperature IMO.

  2. Ziv says:

    I have been waiting for a “breakout year” since around 2012 and it just isn’t happening. I like the 23% improvement in number of electric cars sold, but it is going to take longer than most of us thought for electric cars to get to the point where they are a substantial portion of the cars sold every year.
    It just comes down to one really inflexible problem. Cost.
    You either have to use 85 kWh packs, like Tesla does, to make your car a full utility vehicle and pass that cost along to your customers, or you can increase the complexity and cost and build an EREV like the Volt that is full utility but still relatively expensive at $35k. Or you can market a limited utility car (short AER) like the Leaf at a nice price ($29k) and accept the fact that for most people it will be a very nice second car.
    Obviously the $7500 credit improves the Volt and Leaf prices and brings them into the price ranges most of us will accept.
    I will be very curious to see how GM prices the Gen II Volt. I hope it is near or below $30k. Otherwise the Volt will be the best car no one is buying.

    1. M Hovis says:

      Hang in there Ziv!, and prepare yourself for at least a couple more years of steady growth without breakout. IMO, it will heat up around 2017-2020. Even then you will be a decade or more away from the major vehicle on the road, but you will see a noticeable upward movement. Speculators are still declaring 500,000 Teslas by 2020. There is no way of knowing what it will be, but I have very little doubt they will sell 100,000+ their first FULL year of Model III production. Gen II Volt will ad players, Gen II LEAF will add players, and the overall number increases from 20 to 30 in 2015. I hoe it is not the case, but I could imaging a zero growth year right in front of us.

      Model III arrives, gas goes up again, people acknowledge that pollution is taking a decade off of their lives, it will happen. The train has left the station, and it is electric….

      1. Bonaire says:

        If you think Tesla can sell 100,000 Model 3 in their first year…. How easy will it be? They need to triple the resources in motion to do that including hiring and running the GF. This includes having a ready-market to absorb the near immediate glut of EVs that currently show no growth curve ready for 100K of one single brand and model in a small market in place now.

        The only way Tesla sells 100,000 in 2017 would be if the entire plug-in market grows to 300,000 per year at that time. This year, 117K and next year maybe 125K total plug ins will be sold. Other than some awakening of the common consumer to want to buy a $40K – 50K (with options) BEV, what compels them to do something that is not yet proven but only ‘hoped for’?

        1. Bonaire says:

          Pollution is also not taking years off our lives. Our food choices are as well as our internet addictions and lack of general exercise “as a whole”. Sure, there are fitness clubs out there and some people go out in the woods and take a hike. But I wonder how many fitness people are out there driving an ICE to the indoor fitness club rather than walking,running,biking from home. But as a whole, pollution is not our enemy at all – our food is and our personal hobby choices next.

        2. Zach says:

          Only 125000 in 2015? Even with the model x launch, new volt and a full year of the i3, Volkswagen cars and the bclass?

    2. David Murray says:

      Yeah, I’ve been disappointed as well. Back in 2010 I was getting ready for EVs to be selling like crazy and kept thinking they would be supply limited for years. But the reality has been quite sobering. Now it appears that this plug-in revolution is going to take a couple of decades.

      1. John F says:

        Good EVs have been supply limited. That is why new factories need to be built — especially battery factories. Some manufacturers are venturing into new production for things like light weight carbon fiber construction. Many EVs are not available nationwide. Some like the eNV200 are just not yet available in the USA.

        Meanwhile communities everywhere are building charging infrastructure. While this has been slow and not well organized, it complements the efforts to grow EV adoption.

        So while the glass is neither full nor empty, I think of it as still filling. That is a very good thing.

    3. Lou Grinzo says:

      First, while your assessment of the current technology and prices is accurate, it will likely change a lot in the next few years as battery prices continue to decline, more car companies join the plug party (wow, that sounds dirty), and more consumer figure out that plug-in cars are a very good thing.

      Second, I’ve been saying for years that just in the US if you look at the number of multi-car households that have a convenient way to plug in a car, such as a wired garage, you still get a potential market for EVs in the millions. This is why I keep saying that the primary hurdle right now to much higher sales is not vehicle cost but market psychology. Divorce people from their misconceptions that EVs “aren’t real cars” and we can get enough traction to see much broader adoption of EVs. And that will only encourage companies like Toyota and Honda to drop their HFCV nonsense and leap into EVs, which would further accelerate the transition.

    4. Ziv says:

      Hovis, I am hoping that 2016 will see full production for the Gen II Volt and an increased range option for the Leaf. I would really like to see 2016 be the year electric cars take off. Because by late 2017, we may be seeing the end of the tax credit approaching. And that would tend to snuff/slow the momentum right as it starts to build.
      David, I hope it won’t take decades but it is possible that that will be the case. But as long as there is a diverse set of fuel options when the tight oil boom begins to slow, we will all be in a much better position than if we were still relying on gasoline, even if improved hybrids are getting 60 mpg by then.

  3. ggpa says:

    There is a frequent topic, whether EV should be sleepers, or look different.

    I think the success of the Leaf and i3 shows that in the current Marketplace, they should look different and stand out.

    1. suresh says:

      if leaf wasn’t as ugly i would have an easier time convincing my friends and colleagues to buy it.

    2. PHEVfan says:

      Like anything, different people have different preferences. Some want to ‘stand out’ and others want to ‘blend in’. I am in the latter camp, especially with the not-so-attractive offerings of EVs these days (ie: Leaf & i3), but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  4. Scott says:

    Realize that 22-23% annually is solid growth. At current rates, 2015 should see 146,046 EV’s sold in the US. Improvements and new models for ’16 & ’17, should push us over the 2% total adoption rate as early as 2018. From there, the predictable “S” curve new technologies both suffer from and enjoy goes wild and becomes exponential growth.

    I’m not worried about slow adoption, as these numbers look fantastic considering a public as entrenched in their driving ways as the US is.

    1. Dan Hue says:

      I agree. Not explosive, but solid growth. Let’s keep in mind that the current crop of EVs are still compromised vehicles, at least in the mind of most people, when compared to what they know and have learned to expect. The exception of course is Tesla, and they are doing fantastically well in their segment. It proves that people like electric cars in principle, and the potential for hundreds of thousand of sales is there. The disappointment, IMO, is the Volt, because that too is a no-compromise vehicle, and such a good one at that. Hopefully GM hits the bullseye with Gen II.

  5. Kevin says:

    You literally guessed at a number that was 40% higher than any of your previous guesses for Tesla monthly sales figures and then say that they set a record? Granted it is still very early in the year but so far that is easily the dumbest thing I have seen. What a complete load of fan boy garbage.

    1. sven says:

      It’s more like analysis using all available data and information. Besides, Jay’s previous “guesses” have been pretty accurate.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        So far the greatest margin of error for any 3 month period has been about 300 units, with an average +/- of 150…and we got that big blip in September (and previous anomalies) right. It is really not terribly hard to spot the outliers, it is just gauging the size that can be tricky.

        So far, has Sven says (merci) we have been pretty good for the first 9 quarters or so Tesla has been selling the Model S…but like everything, mistakes can be made, and streaks can end. We do follow all the data that is available very, very closely though. We’ll be able to better reconcile all the numbers during the Q4 sales update and/or from the tweet-leaks, random talking points Mr. Musk likes to do from time-to-time and do any adjusts if need be.

  6. Ocean Railroader says:

    EV’s have kind of been disappointing for me this year.

    The first thing that was depressing me was the lack of DC chargers being built in a lot of cities even in EV strong holds. Also you really can’t drive outside of the EV strong holds with the existing DC fast chargers up till this point in January 2015.

    The second thing is that the low cost EV batteries haven’t raised there ranges outside of the Chevy volt. All they keep doing is talking about crap about how they are going to double there ranges in 2016 and now 2018.

    1. CSS says:

      OR, I would agree with you on level 3 chargers outside of California. But then again, Tesla has expanded their fast charging units throughout the country and the world considerably during 2014.
      As for range, Tesla is offering the Roadster 3.0 upgrade with range in the 400mile realm and the Kia Soul, with 93miles EPA, represents an increase from last year’s baseline for affordable BEVs.

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        As far as I care Tesla’s cars and their super chargers don’t exist. The reason why Tesla doesn’t exist is it’s a $72,000. The superchargers are also built to support the 72,000. A peasant like me is never going to own or get into one so in away it doesn’t exist. A tesla is not a option. And if the Model 3 Tesla comes out and is over $40,000 it’s going to anger me more in that it would become another thing that doesn’t exist due to it’s price.

        The cars that do exist for me are the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-miev and the Chamo charging network.

  7. EV Vinod says:

    Hard to imagine people seeing this growth as a problem! People overestimate 2 year impact of tech, and underestimate 10 year. We are in year 4 of this revolution, and already I see electric cars all over San Diego when I drive.

    In my new Kia Soul EV, I have never charged outside my home, get 100+ mile range. I’m getting a taste of what an successful mass market EV would be:
    125 to 140 mile range
    cost similar to gas model

    This will happen in 3 to 5 years, so in the meantime, let’s enjoy where we’ve reached rather then find ways to spin it negatively!

  8. Bret says:

    I was hoping for a 50% increase over 2013 sales, but I guess 23% will have to do.

    I still believe we will hit the hockey stick uptick on the EV sales chart as soon as the ranges improve significantly. That’s when the mass market consumers will start to join the greenies, geeks and early adopters. As long as the range is sub 100 miles EVs will remain niche vehicles. They just don’t work for soccer moms and serious commuters, despite the argument from EV manufacturers.

    Let’s hope Tesla, Nissan, Chevy, BMW and VW can develop affordable 150-200 mile EVs well before 2018.

    1. Tftf says:

      Develop (and present) before 2018 for sure, but I don’t think we will see these cars on sale before late 2017.

      GM was once rumored to sell theirs in 2016 already, but details look sketchy (and they already have the new Volt as a ‘green’ car before they launch a real next-gen EV).

  9. ModernMarvelFan says:

    You want sales increase, you got to give people more affordable choices…

  10. zack aa says:

    Is there no way to reconcile more accurately the number of units actually registered at least in the previous months for Tesla? That’s a long string of really round numbers. What is the source of the data you were “forced to compile?” Is it of the same veracity as the rest of the industry numbers? I ask because this article is being referenced as the source in other articles.

    3500 in one month is more than two standard deviations outside the monthly average of 1441. That’s quite a sales/production jump.

    800,1400,1300,1100,1000,1800,800,600,2500,1300,1200,3500

    1. Jay Cole says:

      No…that is as good as it gets. Tesla isn’t going to give out exact numbers, and there is too much variance between the production of a customers car and specific data to narrow it down future.

      And yes, 3500 is a big jump, just like September’s 2,500 was a monster jump over July…which we also took a lot of heat for after most outfits were pounding on Tesla for some poor delivery before that in the summer. Thankfully Musk came out and tweeted the record month and stated the 65% year over year increase.

      The issue here (as Musk stated on why Tesla doesn’t report monthly) is that Tesla has one car, from one plant, delivering all over the world. So if you see flat, smooth estimates, you know they are inaccurate…for instance the extended, unexpected delay in Fremont in the summer killed August.

      For mid-November, we know Tesla converted Fremont to P85D production, and then Tesla produced (and then quickly delivered) almost exclusively that car for North America-only for a solid 4 week period before allocating Euro production right at year end when those cars could hit CY 2014 sales.

      Now we are just estimating here. How has our track record been? Pretty good. Now could we be wrong? Sure.

      Truth be told, InsideEVs isn’t really about estimating Tesla sales…our best day ever would be if they started reporting them. People are ONLY paying attention to our numbers, quoting them and sourcing them because historically we have done a pretty decent job.

      We are about reporting and breaking plug-in specific news. We have a lot of people, working a lot of hours and we love EVs…so an off-shoot of that is that we tend to know what is actually going on more than a random analyst with a particular bias, or a automotive forecaster who is trying to nail down the entire segment.

      Like if you wanted to know what was happening at Tesla Fremont a week ago, we could tell you they were building a batch of cars for Norway…random information collected in big piles sometimes adds up to more than the sum.

      4 weeks of late November/December production headed to the US under the deadline of CY 2014 projections = largest month of the year.

      (The full background behind how we arrived at out numbers for Tesla each month can also be found in out full monthly recap scorecard for all the major models individually – here)

      1. ffbj says:

        This seems like a bit of disrespect to that stubborn consistency in estimating Tesla sale numbers, to wit “inside ev’s which could not be reached for comment”, whereas their numbers are twice what others estimated, or maybe I am just reading it incorrectly.
        http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-first-tesla-model-s-sales-may-have-outrun-nissan-leaf-2015-01-07?dist=lbeforebell

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Random behind the scenese FYI: I actually made a quick comment over there.

          That author did reach out via email for comment, but I’m guessing their story was already completed as it was published at Marketwatch about 20 mins after the email…we did return comment, however it took us perhaps 40 mins to respond. Their article was never updated.

          1. ffbj says:

            Ah. I should have thought of reading the comments, over there. Though I rarely read comments on other sites because they are often not very good, unlike here.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Makes sense to me, (=

              Actually the author of that piece just emailed us to say that she just adjusted the article to add a snippet or two from us…which is nice, as people won’t get the impression we are EV-snobs, lol.

  11. Nix says:

    It is nice to finally be able to use the “M” word when talking about plug-in vehicle sales. As in:

    Over a quarter of a MILLION global plug-in sales!

    I like that.