U.S. Plug-In Sales Up 19% In July, While Gas Vehicles Drop 7%

2 days ago by Mark Kane 47

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales – July 2017

The U.S. automotive market of late has entered the dangerous area of decreasing sales, notching a large 7% drop year-over-year in July. In such a circumstance, any growth of plug-in vehicle sales will show an improved market share, even more so with gains.

Bolt EVs outside Capital Chevrolet in San Jose/George B

And sure enough, in July some 15,607 plug-ins were delivered, good for a sturdy 19.4% increase in the sector – the 22nd consecutive month of gains.

Through 7 months, the full year counter for electric vehicles has moved into 6 digits, with ~104,863 sold thus far – up 35% year-over-year. See the full July sales report here.

The gains for plug-ins, and the worsening overall automotive segment in the US, meant the electric market share rose to roughly 1.1%.

We should also note this is the first time in US history that plug-in sales have exceeded 1% market share for three consecutive months (see chart below).


For the month, the best selling EV, for the very first time, was the Chevrolet Bolt EV with 1,971 units moved, about 300 units ahead of the Tesla Model X, estimated at 1,650 deliveries.

Of course in the “newcomer category”, all eyes were on the Tesla Model 3 (view launch party/full specs here), although surprisingly, the Honda Clarity Electric also went on sale and bested the Tesla in deliveries 34 to 30 … but, we suspect it won’t stay ahead in that sales race for very long.

Given the second half of the year sales gains normally seen with plug-in vehicles, the addition of the Model 3 in volume, increased Toyota Prius Prime inventory, the Chevy Bolt EV being made available nationwide this month, and the new LEAF’s introduction in December,  we suspect the US market will easily be crossing the 2% mark by year’s end.

Check out all the individual sales for every plug-in model sold in July (and all-time) on our Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard.

Chevrolet Bolt EV sales in U.S. – July 2017

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales – July 2017

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales – July 2017

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47 responses to "U.S. Plug-In Sales Up 19% In July, While Gas Vehicles Drop 7%"

  1. WadeTyhon says:

    I’ve finally started seeing other Bolts on the road. Saw one charging in downtown dallas and another on the highway. And someone with a Prius Prime seems to have just moved into the other building of our apartment complex. 4 Plug-Ins for 4 charging stations. Our complex may need to add more EVSEs soon!

    1. Scott says:

      Met an older lady with a Bolt the other day, she was giddy with excitement. She was asking me about public charging, so I told her about PlugShare, only then did I realize she doesn’t own a smart phone. It was then I realized how mainstream EVs are becoming, when a 70 year old, not tech savvy woman is buying an EV!

      1. Dave86 says:

        Totally cool story.

      2. menorman says:

        I think she’s going to buy a smartphone soon and her grandchildren will never forgive you.

      3. WadeTyhon says:

        That is great to hear! 😀 She can ask her kids or grandkids to show her how to use the smartphone. And she can show them the joys of EV driving!

        1. Neil Dunn says:

          Once my mum realised that she could get photos of her grandson on her phone, that was it. She now has her own WhatsApp group just for that.

  2. Zach says:

    4 percent penetration seems within reach next year. The Prius prime ramp and the model 3 ramp would be the determining factors.

    1. trackdaze says:

      We might see a breach of 2% ( ~30k units) for a month or two this year.

      Next year anything from 3%-5% is achievable with model 3, new leaf and new production capacity for bolt.

    2. menorman says:

      Call me bullish, but I’m expecting at least 5% for California and won’t be surprised to see the numbers flirt with 10%, especially after the gas tax increase hits in November.

      1. Rik says:

        Plugins already have a 4.8% market shate in California
        http://www.cncda.org/CMS/Pubs/CA%20Auto%20Outlook%201Q%202017.pdf

  3. Warren says:

    Peak cars can’t come too soon.

    1. Tom says:

      I think it already has in the US

  4. Someone out there says:

    “But EVs have been hovering around 1% for several years”
    Sure, that is the nature of rounding but when the market develops with 40% year-over-year it won’t take long before it becomes a major player. The exponential function is slow to start.

    With a 40% increase we should see 220k sales this year, 310k next year, 430k in 2019 and 600k in 2020, which should be about 8% of sales. That might even be an underestimate considering the upcoming models.
    EVs are about to become a big thing very soon.

  5. alex says:

    Those numbers seem pretty conservative. By 2019 Tesla alone will be producing 0.5 million model 3s.

    Everybody else may well be growing at 40%.

    I am predicting US sales in the range of 600 – 800 k in year 2019 and 800 k – 1 M in 2020.

    1. trackdaze says:

      Half of Tesla production goes overseas.

      1. Tosho says:

        Almost all Model 3 produced before 2019 will be for the US market.

  6. alex says:

    Peak cars can’t come too soon.

    Looks like they’ve peaked in year 2016. It’s pretty much over.

    7% year on year drop is first signs of Osborne effect.

    If you think that effect could have impact on Model S sales, think what it will do to ICE cars.

    1. Nada says:

      Car sales may have peaked in the US but we have largely exported our totaly unsustainable way of life to the world where car sales grow and grow…
      Yeah!!

      1. Rob Stark says:

        Every adult on earth having a BEV is totally sustainable.

        Yeah for engineering and double Yeah for science.

        Malthusians have been wrong for centuries.

  7. arne-nl says:

    They are all holding off the purchase of a new car to get a Model 3. 🙂

    1. Alex says:

      That’s just a hypothesis. We’ll see if it is a correct one in near future.

      2 years’ wait sounds like a lot, yet buying a new car is easily 3 to 5 year commitment. And there is built-in assumption, you’d sell it in 3 to 5 years.

      Well, that assumption can’t be taken for granted any more. You may well find yourself stuck with old technology in 3 to 5 years.

      You don’t have to do that. Just keep driving your current car for another year. Buy a couple years’ old one Or lease a new one.

  8. Taylor S Marks says:

    My understanding is hybrids never passed ~3% of the market. So it’ll be significant when plug-ins manage to pass that mark. Otherwise, it’ll indicate that EVs are just a repeat of hybrids.

    1. speculawyer says:

      Well so many of the hybrids were just hilariously bad. Toyota seemed to be the only ones that were able to build good ones. So many hybrids were poorly-designed such that they wanted you to pay $5K more for for a hybrid that only got 1 or 2 MPG more than the ICE version of the same vehicle.

      Pure EVs provide a bigger leap into a completely different propulsion system. That is both good & bad. But when an EV is affordable and can be fueled up for a low price at home, many people will make the switch.

      1. Asak says:

        Yes, hybrids suffered from the problem of being *both* ICE cars and also having electric drive. Often both aspects were required for the car to perform optimally, which also meant there was twice as much that could potentially go wrong.

        I expect that hybrids will continue to expand because it will make up for some of the short comings of gas cars in the short term. In the medium to long term we’re going to just have range extended PHEVs (like Chevy Bolt or i3 Rex), not hybrids as they currently exist where the gas drive is dominant and the electric motor just helps it along.

    2. trackdaze says:

      Hybrids too are growing at 10% this year. Combined they are now over 3% of total market.

      If we exclude segments in which there is no hybrid or electric competitor ie. Pickups combined they are then over 5%.

      1. Tom says:

        I’d like to see market share stuff reported without the light trucks. i.e. % of cars.

    3. john1701a says:

      Hybrids never had the advantage subsidies.

      What was offered was less in terms of money ($3,400 max) and less in terms quantity (60,000).

      So, there isn’t a constructive way of comparing early sales.

      1. john1701a says:

        There was virtually no concern for oil-dependency or emissions back then either.

  9. speculawyer says:

    The Honda Clarity is hilarious. 89 miles of range in 2017? WTF were you thinking Honda? I guess this is a quick compliance car?

    At least you switched over to SAE-CCS…I thank you for that. Let’s get a single open DCFC standard in the USA.

    1. menorman says:

      The ClarityEV isn’t too bad an option on the market, especially considering its size and lease terms, but enough range to put it in the 120+ mile club definitely would be appreciated.

  10. Bul_gar says:

    10% market share looks so far.
    I would like to be billionaire and help Tesla to build 600 000 cars in 2018.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “…the full year counter for electric vehicles has moved into 6 digits, with ~104,863 sold thus far – up 35% year-over-year.”

    A 35% YOY growth rate, if sustained — of course, it won’t be, just like the YOY growth rates of past years have not been — but if it was, then we would get to 50% market penetration in very slightly over 13 years.

    As an EV advocate I could hope for better, but I could live with just over 13 years until more plug-in EVs are being sold than gasmobiles.

    However, I’m hoping the Tesla Model 3 will pave the way to a faster growth rate!

    1. James P Heartney says:

      EVs may experience an S-curve in growth (just like lots of other technologies). If so, rather than a steady x% of YOY growth, you’d see an inflection point, followed by fast growth, followed by tapering as the market saturates. I think this is still a ways off, especially if it coincides with level 4 or 5 autonomy.

      OTOH, if affordable solid state batteries become a thing, petrol automobiles are over, no matter what happens with autonomy.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Well said, and thanks.

        I haven’t looked at historic “S” curves for disruptive tech revolutions, but the mathematical “S” curve models show exponential growth past the inflection point to about 50-60% of market penetration, and then exponential decay (the inverse of growth) as the penetration approaches 100%. That’s why I didn’t try to run my 35% exponential growth projection past 50%.

        And of course, real world growth is never going to exactly follow the mathematical model. Real life does not happen in the pristine, protected environment of a laboratory.

        Just one example of a mathematical “S” curve model:

        1. Steve Seattle says:

          The Model 3 will provided the heel of the hockey stick. It will be interesting to see how the traditional manufacturers react.

          1. Dave86 says:

            I’m hoping Model 3 takes significant market share from Lexas, Acura, Audi, BMW, etc. and forces them to go electric.

        2. FISHEV says:

          Hockey stick curves and Laffer curves are even more fun but equally useless in any predictive utility.

        3. Asak says:

          So, according to that curve, we’re not even “early adopters” at this stage, instead we’re “innovators”. Actually, maybe that is a fair description. We’re so early to the party that no one else even knows a party is planned yet!

      2. ffbj says:

        I think it will be flatter S curve, due to the cost, and long length of time people own vehicles.
        In addition the fact that compared to ICE, though most technologically savvy people realize the advantages, those advantages are not fully understood by everyday car-buyers, yet.

        1. Dave86 says:

          The world needs to build about 50 to 100 (maybe 200 worst case) Gigafactories to build batteries (cells) for us to go all electric.

          The planning and permits to build these factories won’t happen over night.

          And…. we need a supply chain of materials to feed these Gigafactories.

          The transition to all electric cars won’t happen over night.

      3. menorman says:

        The inflection point will occur next year.

    2. trackdaze says:

      Lithium battery production is forecast to increase over 500% by 2020 from a 2016 base.

      Thats enough for 5million evs per year.

  12. Dave86 says:

    I don’t know the reason ICE sales have gone down. Here’s a few possible reasons why sales are down –

    * demand that developed during the Great Recession has now been met

    * ICE cars last longer than before

    * consumers are starting to hold out for affordable, no compromise EVs

    1. Tom says:

      First two points are easily demonstrable. Third point is a bit of wishful thinking on the part of EV fans.

    2. FISHEV says:

      Car sales have gone down in a very predictable five year sales cycle. All the car companies knew it was coming and it signified nothing other than patterns are stable and we are coming off a record five years for car mfg.s

      1. Alex says:

        You are assuming that the next five years will look like the past five years. They won’t.

        Next five years will be years when Tesla alone will put at least one, maybe two million electric cars on the road.

        ICE cars peaked in 2016 because:

        – For next 5 years it will be very hard to beat 2016 numbers for cyclical reasons if you wish

        – In five years it will be a different world with different set of expectation of what a new 35 k car can and should do.

  13. BoltFan says:

    Of interest to me was finding out the Bolt is outselling the Golf GTI in the US.

    http://media.vw.com/release/1418/

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