May 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

1 year ago by Jay Cole 56

September's Results Won't Surpass The All-Time Best Set In August - But Still Very Strong

Traditional Best Sellers Re-Take The Lead In April

For the past two months, some unexpected players have come out of the blue to post record sales to help EVs post back-to-back gains; first the Fiat 500e in March, then the Chevrolet Spark EV in April.

For The First Time In 2015, The Nissan LEAF Eclipses 2,000 Copies Sold (New "Deep Blue Pear" Color Choice Coming For 2016 Edition)

For The First Time In 2015, The Nissan LEAF Eclipses 2,000 Copies Sold (New “Deep Blue Pear” Color Choice Coming For 2016 Edition)

However in May, the traditional big names are back to their normal leadership positions, with the Tesla Model S leading the way (with the new 70D edition helping out).

Historical top two performers for the US – the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt also post their best results of the year, as did the Ford family of plug-ins.

That being said, May’s estimated 11,540 cars sold.  That result, while being a 2015 best by far, is still slightly shy (7%) from May 2014, when the Toyota Prius PHV sold an amazing 2,692 copies – which pushed overall EV sales north of 12,000 units.

Unfortunately ever since May of 2014, Toyota basically has only produced a token amount of plug-in Prii before announcing that current gen production will cease in June.  The Prius PHV 2.0 is not expected to lunch until the Fall of 2016…so no sales help is coming to the EV segment from Toyota anytime soon.

With the market also waiting on the next generation of Chevrolet Volt to arrive in late August/early September, the industry now has 3 vehicles that are in a sort of sales limbo, as word the 2016 Nissan LEAF would feature a larger 30 kWh battery will surely apply short-term pressure to 2015 model sales starting in June.


Heading in May the stories of interest are (with answers as they come in):

  • Nissan is still looking to hit the 2,000 sales plateau in 2015, something they did in 10 consecutive months in 2014. Can the company return to old highs? (2,000 level achieved)
  • GM is still looking to crest the 4-digit mark with the now “out of production” first generation Chevrolet Volt.  Can they do it May?  (Easily)
  • The BMW i3 sales took it in the face last month, selling only 406 copies after selling close to 1,000 units eight of the nice months prior.  Was April’s sales just a blip?  Or a sign of things to come?  (May rebounded)
  • After recent impressive results from the Fiat 500e and the Chevrolet Spark EV, is there another player waiting to surprise us this month?  (perhaps the VW e-Golf?)

Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is both the 2015 YTD chart as well as the complete 2014 results.


Below: Individual sales reports on each plug-in brand for the US

2014 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: Never underestimate the power of strong incentives to sales. (full May recap on the Volt can be found here)

For May, GM crested the 4-digit mark for the first time in 2015 – and by quite a large margin, as 1,619 Volts were moved.

Additionally, May 2015’s result was almost even with a year prior, no small feat with the next generation’s arrival clearly on the radar.

During May, the last first generation Chevrolet Volt (a white one)rolled off the line at GM’s production facility in Hamtramck, Michigan.

No sooner had that happened than deals as low as $159/month leases and $7,000 off MSRP started being offered as GM promoted the last of the 2015s.

2015 model year inventory crested the ~5,500 mark before falling to just under 5,000 units to start the month – a level we feel is accurate as some parts of the country will be waiting until early in the new year to see 2016 inventory hit their local dealer.  (Check this story to see GM’s regional rollout plan for the next generation Volt)

Last year (2014) 18,805 cars were been sold – which was down 18.6% from 2013 when GM moved 20,702 Volts. This means that the Volt is the first electric vehicle to post two consecutive years of falling sales in America.





2014 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF: Nissan finally got back on track in May, as the LEAF become only the 2nd car to pass the 2,000-unit sold mark in 2015 with 2,104 cars sold during the month. (full May recap on the LEAF can be found here)

Overall for the year, the LEAF is still off by just over 25% with 7,742 cars sold in 2015, versus 10,449 through May in 2014.

Previously in April, Nissan did not participated in the strong sales experienced by much of the US market, as Nissan managed just 1,553 LEAFs sold.

Somewhat slower sales in the first 5 months of the year has meant that LEAF inventory is currently overbuilt somewhat for the first time in…pretty much forever, as more than 5,000 cars are now available nationwide.

The good news moment of the month is that the 2016 Nissan LEAF will come with 30 kWh of power in the SV/SL trim levels, an improvement of 25% – meaning a theoretical range north of 100 miles.

The bad news is that the ‘good news’ means existing gen sales will be taking a bit of a hit – likely starting next month, and we don’t expect any 2016 inventory to hit dealers until October.

In March of 2015, the LEAF overtook the Chevrolet Volt for the all-time lead for plug-in sales in America. That tally at the end of this April stood at 77,960 to 76,136, although we expect GM to have something to say about those standings when the 2016 Volt arrives this fall.

In 2014, Nissan sold 30,200 LEAFs, which is a big 34% improvement over 2013, when 22,610 were sold. For some perspective on how high that 30,200 sales number is, the previous best was by the Chevrolet in 2013 with 23,094 Volts sold.



2014 Cadillac ELR

2014 Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR: The plug-in Caddy continues to find a solid level at which to sell down 2014 inventory with 116 more sold – good for 531 for the year.

Previously in April, 104 ELRs were moved, good for a 70% improvement from 2014, when 61 were sold.

During April we also got word from GM that “officially” the Cadillac ELR would continue on, with new production as a 2016 model this summer (there was no 2015 production).

However, GM released the new spec sheet on the car, which clearly demonstrated it would not be migrating to the next generation platform.

The 2016 ELR does gain some performance over the 2014 model (0-60mph comes up in 6.4 seconds – 1.5 seconds than the older model), despite still using the 17.1 kWh battery found in the current Chevrolet Volt. The Cadillac also gets a $9,000 MSRP haircut (now starting at $65,995), which should help it move a little more product.






2015 BMW i3

2015 BMW i3

BMW i3: After posting a terrible month for sale in April with just 406 copies sold (near an all-time low), the BMW i3 bounced back nicely in May with 818 sold.

What happening in April?  Who knows; but hopefully it was just a random blip on the popular BMW’s radar.

Previously in March, BMW sold a 922 copies of the i3 – an impressive result considering the limited availability of cars in the US to buy at dealer lots.

In 2014, BMW sold 6,092 i3s, good for the 7th best overall spot for plug-in sales in America…not bad considering it was only available for 7 full months in the US.

Given the wild swings of late in BMW i3 sales its hard to tell is the current inventory level of about ~1,700 cars is appropriate to demand, too much, or too shallow.




2014 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales (apparently because the public can’t handle the concept of regional allocations and delivery lead times)… so we never know for sure what the monthly numbers total up to until Tesla’s quarterly updates add clarity, but we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening.

To come to an estimated monthly, number, we don’t simply take the quarterly estimate given by Tesla and divide it by 3 and hope it all works out…it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.

We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, the first hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself when available – and the number is what it is. So far that has worked out pretty well, with no quarter being off by more than 300 units versus information Tesla has reported publically, and for the full year results last year we came within 100 units with our net estimate of 17,300.

That being said, we only estimate this number because Tesla does not, and to not put a number on Model S sales would be to paint an even more inaccurate overall picture of EV sales. Despite our fairly accurate track record, we are not analysts, portfolio managers and we do not own any positions in Tesla the company.

For May Tesla was hitting on all cylinders, taking orders and delivering lots of P85Ds, 85D and 70Ds (but mostly 85Ds), but really just to North Americans during the month.

Depending on your prospective, an undeniable trend has been in place of late, more and more demand (and ultimately deliveries) is coming from the US with the introduction of the new trim levels, while Europe and the rest of the world has seemingly has levelled off – perhaps not as enticed with the “D” (AWD) offerings and/or the additional range of the base 70 kWh model.

We estimate Tesla delivered upwards of 2,400 Model S sedans in May in North America, and we would be very much surprised to see more than ~800 or so delivered in the rest of the world during the month.

In our opinion, it looks as though Tesla’s Q2 guidance of 10,000 to 11,000 Model S sedans will ultimately be achieved, but strictly through the demand in North America – perhaps accounting for as much as 2/3rds of the quarter’s end result; a far cry from the originally expected splits (~33%) of a couple years ago.

If Tesla is to make full year estimates of 55,000 cars sold, this situation will have to righted almost immediately given the long delays between orders and actual deliveries overseas.

With approximately 34,000 cars (and Model X SUVs) needed to be sold in the second half, it is unreasonable to think the company can sell ~22,000 (3,700/month) EVs in North America alone to make up for international shortfalls, especially with first US Model X deliveries now shifted back into (late Q3) September.




2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet SPARK EV:  “Destroyed” is the only word appropriate to what the Spark EV did to its old sales record in April by selling 920 copies.

Could the brand make a repeat performance in May? With less than 400 cars in inventory to start the month, failure was guaranteed.

For May, a still very impressive 283 Spark EVs were sold, leaving less than 100 now available to be had; which means sales next month for the little all-electric Chevy will be very depressed.  In fact we don’t expect new 2016 model year inventory until at least late September.

Sure to continue help sales going forward was the announcement of a MSRP price cut on the Spark EV to $25,995, and a new aggressive lease deal at $139 per month in all 3 states the car is available in (CA, MD, OR)

GM sold 1,144 in total for the 2014 against 539 in 2013.




Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi: Both of Ford’s “Energi” products did well in May, but the Fusion Energi was tops at 985 cars sold – the best so far this year.

Previously in April, the Fusion Energi turned in another decent month, selling 711 cars.

Thankfully, the main issue that had been holding back Fusion Energi sales in the Spring (no not demand) – national inventories, has improved considerably.

Heading into June the company looks to be closing into 4,000 units, a massive amount relative to sales and the new 2016 edition not that far off – we look for the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi to have a significance resurgence in sales this Spring.

The Fusion Energi basically offers the same package as the C-Max Energi, but in a larger sedan package. The third plug-in to be offered from Ford has been rated by the EPA at a combined 88 MPGe and has an electric range of 19 miles.




2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In: After 8 months of anemic sales performances due to low inventory Toyota is sending a few extra copies to US dealers before current generation of Prius PHV ends in June.

This translated into 727 Prius PHV sales in May, a year high, and the best result for the model since August of 2014.

Previously in April just 428 were sold – off 75% from a year ago’s 1,741 moved.

Again, we do still have to note – 2015 results are not a reflection on the demand for the car as…well, there isn’t that many to be had.

National inventories are still at a pretty unacceptable level for anyone honestly trying to sell this car and heading into a production halt – heading into June, about 800 are available to be purchased.

Although a next generation Prius PHV is confirmed, delays in the ‘regular’ Prius have pushed the plug-in version’s introduction as far off as the second half of 2016 as a 2017 model car.

This means a ~14 month gap (with zero production) will open up shortly and there will be no cars to sell over that period.  We do expect inventories to see a slight bump before the end of June as the build-out might mean some additional depth for America before the long hiatus.





2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi: The plug-in C-Max tied its best result of the year by selling 715 copies in May – the same level as two months ago.

Previously, in April we thought Ford pulled off the miracle of the year by selling 1,237 C-Max Energis.  Unfortunately, the company had to send out a press blast saying that it had messed up on its reports; only 553 were actually sold.

Perhaps some wishful thinking on Ford’s part.

For 2014 overall, 8,433 plug-in C-Maxs were sold, good for being the 6th best selling plug-in for America.

In 2013, the high water mark for the C-Max Energi was set in October as 1,092 plug-ins sold. It would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi.




2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED: The 2015s have finally arrived in some volume for the US, and with them hopefully the start of being able to match demand with sales.

For May 278 B-Class EDs were sold – new high the model.

Previously in April, 158 B-Class EDs were sold. Slightly better than the 145 moved a month ago.

Can the electric B-Class compete with natural rival BMW (with the i3)? It still seems highly unlikely, at least for now…but a lot more probable than just a couple months ago.

Beginning in April, the first 2015 model year B-Class EDs arrived, which was good news as the older 2014 model was both a limited production offering, and the new 2015s now all come standard with the previously optional “range package”. This means that the 87 mile EPA rating, is actually now about 17 miles higher (despite no official update yet on the 2015 edition from the government agency).





BMW i8 Finally Arrives In US In August!

BMW i8

BMW i8: Consistency is the word for BMW i8 sales, with another 117 moved in May – or perhaps the word should be “allocation-restrained”?

Previously in April, 138 copies sold, while in March 143 were moved.. In the first two months of the year BMW sold 85 (Jan) and 113 (Feb) copies.

All great results so far in 2015, as it only takes about 20 days for a car landed in the US to find a home.

The high mark for the i8 was set at 204 plug-in sports cars sold in October of 2014.

555 i8s were sold in total in 2014…out of the approximate 555 that were shipped from BMW’s Leipzig assembly plant.





2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The dealer lot battle between the plug-in Panamera and Cayenne continued in May, with the Panamera again ending up on the short end of the stick with just 21 sold.

Looking at the yearly trend, and the Cayenne S e-Hybrid is clearly taking more and more away from its sibling.

For April 30 were sold, while previous months were 44, 40 and 61.

The high mark for sales on the Panamera was set in the first month of the year, with an amazing 141 sold. The advent of the Cayenne plug-in means that this level will never be seen again.

The Panamera S E-Hybrid has a combined 416 hp output (333 hp electric) and can get north of 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph. Pricing starts at $99,000. Also of interest, the S E-Hybrid is currently available at all Porsche dealers nationwide – a rare thing these days.




2015 Porsche Cayenne S e-Hrybrid

2015 Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid: Ever strengthening, the plug-in Cayenne set a new personal best for sales in May with 105 sold.

Previously in April, and despite some very thin inventories (not unlike May), the plug-in Cayenne sold 88 copies.

As more inventory of the Cayenne plug-in arrives, we expect more sales to be realized by Porsche.

While the Cayenne S e-Hybrid and cousin Panamera S e-Hybrid are still selling relatively close to the same level, don’t be fooled, the Cayenne plug-in’s demand is much, much higher.

How high? We can’t say. But what we can tell you is that since its arrival, inventory has been very tight, although it did improve by about 50% in May, up to about 80 units, about a half that of the Panamera S E-Hybrid stock.





2014 Fiat 500e

2014 Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e:

When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have had another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).

Chrysler/Fiat has been giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.

UPDATE: In the past, InsideEVs had used data from a 3rd party data collection site, however upon inspection of those numbers, they were found to be materially short from rebates claimed on the car. Historical sales have since been updated to more accurately reflect the 500es true sales, and we will continue to report an estimated number based on more accurate data points.

Coming off an incredibly impressive 1,310 estimated sales of the 500e in March, Fiat continued their very strong run of late by notching another ~420 units sold in April (estimated by state level and rebate data).

As promised, the Fiat 500e sales footprint in the US ventured outside California last year, as the EV is now on sale in Oregon.

As for the car itself, the 500e’s 24 kWh lithium battery has been rated by the EPA to produce 87 miles of all electric range, and MPGe efficiency in the city is pegged at 122, and 108 on the highway, for a combined 116 MPGe figure.




Volkswagen e-Golf Comes To The US In November

Volkswagen e-Golf Comes To The US In November

Volkswagen e-Golf: The e-Golf continues to strengthen in the US, as more traditional Golf buyers are choosing a plug.  For May, 410 e-Golfs were sold – a new high.

Previously in April, 309 moved off dealer lots.

Looking at Europe, and the amount of EVs VW sells from such a limited inventory in the US, the company has served notice that they won’t be relegated to the small volume compliance category of EV sales.

How high could sales go? Still fairly hard to say, but as inventories spread out and VW eventually sends the EV across the US, the 500+ per month level ‘in season’ doesn’t seem hard to fathom today – at least when (and if) inventory levels get high enough to support that many sales.

Heading into June, inventories increased on average by about 200 e-Golfs, up to ~800 copies available to be purchased in America – so we will still have to wait a bit longer to see the natural demand for the plug-in VW.

Originally for the US, the Volkswagen e-Golf only came in the premium SEL trim, which brings with it a price point of $35,445 (details here), but now the ironically named “limited” edition is also available (but with a few less features) for $33,450 (details here)

The e-Golf has been rated at 83 miles by the EPA and carries a 24.2 kWh LEAF-like battery. Previously, InsideEVs learned details on a launch leasing program that sees the e-Golf available from $299/month on a 36 month term with $2,000 down.



2012 Mitsubishi I (2014s incoming)

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: It’s a new 2015 sales record for the i-MiEV!!!

Ok, perhaps we shouldn’t get too excited as a new sales record was achieved with just 18 units sold; but it is something…right?

2016s are here! 2016s are here!

Unfortunately not that many. A quick check around the US by ourselves at month’s end only returned about 4 dozen copies.

Previously, 16 i-MiEVs were sold in April.  For the year, Mitsubishi has now sold 49 of the small 4 seat EV.

Long story short, sales are terrible, as Mitsu continues to learn the lesson of “If you don’t ship any inventory, its hard to sell cars.”

Despite no 2015 model year cars ever being shipped to the US, Mitsubishi has decided to restock 2016 models of the car starting this month (March 2015) – yes, you heard that right – 2016s…in March of 2015. We should note that after talking to Mitsu directly about the 2016 i-MiEV (which gets some option package tweeks), the company says they don’t plan on marketing the car any differently than the outgoing 2014 edition. So look for some continued low volume numbers.



As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

2014 smart ED – As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: Breaking recent trends, the smart ED didn’t participate in the sales resurgence for EVs in the United States this month.

After selling 123 copies in April, just 102 were moved in May, the models’ 2nd worst showing over the past 16 months.

The all-time record for smart ED sales was set this past December, as the all-electric smart came out of nowhere to destroy expectations as 351 were sold!

The smart EV is now technically available nationally, although there isn’t inventory yet spread out across the country to make physical sales everywhere.

The smart ED is the first plug-in for America to be offered with a “battery rental” option, which brings the cost of the Smart ED down to $19,990, but adds a $80 month battery rental payment, as well as includes a wider (and longer) battery warranty.

Check out all the specs, options and pricing here. The 2-seat Smart electric car gets 68 miles of range from a 17.6 kWh battery.



2014 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric:

Hit the snooze on the alarm, as Ford once again sold “100 and something” Focus Electrics in May with 165 more sales.

In April, 124 were sold. That makes 25 of the past 28 months in the zone.

Previously, in March 140 Focus Electrics were moved and 145 in February…which followed a disastrous January and December, when just 85 and 53 (ouch) were sold (respectively), despite a $6,000 MSRP price cut (down to $29,995) just 4 months ago, and big discounts at the dealer level.

We hate to say it, but the current generation of the plug-in Focus EV as it stands, is pretty much dead when it comes to consumer acceptance.




2015 Kia Soul EV Went On Sale In Mid-October

2015 Kia Soul EV Went On Sale In Mid-October

Kia SOUL EV:  Despite having no issues accepting the $7,500 federal credit (designed to encourage hitting EV sales targets in the US) against sales of the Soul EV, Kia has decided it’s no one’s business what those sales are (many media outfits, including ourselves have been rebuffed) – a testament to Kia’s true dedication to plug-in vehicles.

But none of that matters because there is more than one way to split out plus-ins sales from petrol ones.

Sales improved again slightly in May as 108 were sold.

This three-digit result is actually Kia’s best result of the year, but we have to temper our excitement for the achievement as quite frankly, it should be doing much, much better.

Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US? I mean you did run Adam Levine-fronted commercials during the Super Bowl on the car

The high water mark still stands at the 140 EVs that were moved in November…which means that, at least for now, the low 100s seems to be the acceptance level for the all electric Kia.

The cute-ute from Hyundai/Kia has a more than decent 93 miles of range (with more 103 miles of range in the city), and a price tag of $33,700 (full details, specs and picture can be found here).




2014 (yes, 2014) Honda Accord Plug-In (via automedia)

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In (via automedia)

Honda Accord Plug-In: Ok, we demand to know the names of the 5 people who bought the Accord PHV in April; they have to be employees? Right?

And are they counting the same people each month? As 5 were also sold in May…after selling 5 in March.

Basically, there is absolutely no demand for the extended range Accord.

By the way, did you know Honda had a plug-in hybrid to sell? Few seem to. In fact, it has been on sale now for 26 months – debuting in January of 2013.

Well they do sell them….and for just $17,675 dollars more than the base Accord sedan you too can enjoy up to 13 miles of electric driving…provided you don’t accelerate too hard, or drive to fast. So, to say Accord PHEV sales are flat in the US would be an understatement.

Pricing update: Good news, Honda is bucking the trend of falling plug-in vehicle prices, and the 2014 Honda Accord PHV inow retails for $39,780 – up $1,000

(Fun Fact: Although we no longer specifically track the e Honda Fit EV now that it is out of production, Honda managed to “un-sell” a copy in May, and noted sales of “-1” for the month)




Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 (OTHER):   Ok, we hear you! People always ask us, “why don’t you report on the 918 Spyder?”

Honestly, it didn’t fit our traditional mantra of reporting only “mass produced EVs for America“…especially as we already know the total number of sales to come for America.

To that end, 918 sales will fall under the ‘other’ category on the scorecard.

Only 918 of the super exotic plug-in will be build over several years, and they are already all sold out, with exactly 297 destined to come to the US.

In May, 20 more of Porsche’s supercar were built and delivered in America after 34 were sold a month ago. The high for 2015 was set in January, when 34 more of those 297 US cars were delivered, after 39 918s arrived in December.

Check out Top Gear’s video review of the car that can go from 0 to 62 mph in 2.3 seconds…and plug-in, here.



BELOW: Chart of 2015 results so far, as well as 2014 year end results:

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

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, Q4 via 55% net NA deliveries from 31,655 total) ** Update: Fiat 500e data estimated via incentive data

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, Q4 via 55% net NA deliveries from 31,655 total) ** Update: Fiat 500e data estimated via incentive data

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

56 responses to "May 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

  1. Just_chris says:

    Considering the drop off in major players (PiP,Volt, Leaf, etc.), reduction in some incentives and the collapse of the oil price. I think that it is impressive that we are still on track for 10k sales this month.

    Bring on the next generation!

    1. RS says:

      Pure EVs even gained a little bit. If you exclude the Focus at this point, they gained some 300 sales! Sadly its the (compliance?) PHEVs letting us down.

      1. RS says:

        Revised my statement: THE compliance PHV is letting us down…

    2. LuStuccc says:

      IMHO tradional car makers are doing a good job breaking the exponential trend in EV sales.

  2. evnow says:

    I guess the total will again be down for the month compared to May ’14. Second time this year.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Yes versus 2014 it could be seen as a miss, but definitely will be a 2015 high…so depends if you are a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” kind of guy.

      Don’t have Ford data until tomorrow, but early returns seems to show that the Energi twins will be up fractionally in May.

      So ~11,000 in total sales for May. Once again, ex-Prius PHV is a strong month, but September can’t come soon enough to change the “headline” stories about gains/losses around.

      1. Lensman says:


        Are you still confident about your estimate of ~25% year-on-year increase in overall sales for 2015?

        I realize that sales should improve quite a bit starting this September, but looking at 2015 sales to date, it looks like my estimate of 10-15% increase was, if anything, too optimistic.

        1. Londo Bell says:

          Bear view for me on overall EV sales this year 🙁

          In essence there are more Plugins available now then at the same time last year (gone are Rav4 and Fit EV), yet the Y2Y trend is down.

          What’s worst is that many states are no longer offering incentives plus applying new fees, and that can significantly impact sales. Nothing done in the federal level sure doesn’t help either.

          1. Lensman says:

            We weren’t expecting anything in the way of improvements or extensions in Federal incentives, were we? Not with the GOP in control of both chambers of Congress. (I hope that doesn’t come across as a political attack; I’m just pointing out the reality of the situation.)

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Lensman said:


              Are you still confident about your estimate of ~25% year-on-year increase in overall sales for 2015?”

              I honestly don’t remember the quote/context of when/if I said this, can you link me to it?

              1. Lensman says:


                Ah, well, nevermind. When I read those editorial comments early this year, I thought I was getting a peek into the consensus of opinion of the InsideEVs team. If you don’t recall the comments — and I’m not even sure the two I recall were from you, they may have been from one of the other editors — then I guess those were more along the line of “current thoughts from one editor” rather than an actual consensus prediction for the year.

                But thanks for responding.

                1. Jay Cole says:

                  No worries, sometimes I can’t remember myself, lol

                  We did run a an op-ed piece earlier this years suggesting close to a 25% gain…150,000 for the year. Maybe this was the piece?:

                  Op-Ed: 2015 Plug In Sales Predictions For America

                  1. Lensman says:

                    You found it, thanks! My Google-fu failed.

                    I see now that (A) you were not the author of that piece, and (B) the estimate in the article is 22-25%, not precisely 25% as I mis-remembered.

                    1. Josh says:

                      Just to clarify, that article was written by me and solely my guestimations.

                      You can’t blame Jay if they are wrong.

                    2. Josh says:

                      And after reviewing those picks, they look pretty terrible at this point. Only the ELR and e-Golf are on pace to beat the predictions.

                      Let’s hope things start rolling in the second half of the year.

                    3. Josh says:

                      Last point, the prediction was 150k this year, compared to 123k in 2014. (150k – 123k) / 150k = 20%.

                      But that prediction doesn’t look good right now.

                    4. Josh says:

                      Ugg, math before coffee, that should have been 22%.

                    5. Jay Cole says:

                      The LEAF/Volt numbers are definitely high (neither are going to close in on 30k)…at least unless they get out an exceptional (and unexpected) amount of 2016s in the last 3 months of the year.

                      But there could still be upwards of 60k+ worth of sales in the last 4 months of the year depending on how things shake out. I’m not predicting anything, but given where things stand today, 140k seems to be about the baseline.

                      On a personal note, I’m looking forward to seeing December’s numbers specifically, as it looks like all the tumblers will align to put out a incredibly large result…and set the tone for 2016.

                      The 2016 Volt/LEAF/Model X are all hitting the market this September/October, but one has to assume the real volume follow-through on all three might take a couple months – and the pressure will be on to deliver before year end.

                    6. Josh says:

                      My Volt prediction was based on an expected $29,999 starting MSRP before incentives.

                      You can hack 10k off my prediction, as I no longer have confidence in GM’s willingness to sell the Volt in volume.

                      Sadly it seems the $100k plug-in will lead all vehicles in sales this year. That is just crazy.

                    7. Londo Bell says:

                      @Jay Cole,

                      I’ve a crystal ball right in front of me, and I can tell you that 140K baseline is definitely way too high.


                      Nevertheless, I actually don’t think that 140K is a reachable level (for US), mainly due to the elimination of incentives in various states. This may (and probably will) cause those manufacturers that are planning a nationwide roll-out to rethink their plans, and affect sales of those EVs that are currently available. Note that we aren’t talking a couple hundred of bucks here, but $4-5K incentives per vehicle.

                      @ Josh,
                      I’m kind of not too surprised with $100K vehicle leading the pack (especially when going into 2nd 1/2 of the year). Sales on budget EVs have, imho, close links to incentives availability. The more incentives, the more of those EVs being sold, and vice versa.

                      But when you can afford a $100K vehicle, those incentives suddenly become a minor % of the vehicle price, and less the influence the vehicle, as CA rebate center had found last year. Sure there may be some of those who said, “without the incentives, I couldn’t have bought a Tesla.” What those didn’t realize is that, if they rely on the incentives, they could NOT have been able to afford a Tesla to begin with (being able to afford is not the same as being able to buy).

                    8. Nathanael says:

                      Josh: I know people like to round up the Model S price to $100K, but really typical price is more like $80K.

                      (Before sales tax, which is how car prices are usually quoted in the US.)

      2. Jean-François says:

        Yep, fall could be huge with let’s say the big3 (new Volt, upgraded Leaf and Tesla X) and improvement from the mid field players like SoulEV, e-Golf, Mercedes B, and small newbies like A3 etron, Sonata PHEV, Volvo, etc.

  3. sven says:

    What’s up with the smaller font size in the Sales Report Card? I’m going to have to get a phone with a bigger screen. You’re killing my eyes Jay. 😉

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Sorry Sven,

      We are switching to a slightly new system/base this month and was just trying to get it published out as fast as possible.

      /all fixed up now…the font was pretty small before, (=

  4. QCO says:

    The sales charts provide quite a bit of opportunity for detailed analysis, but in the big picture one has to be consistently moving more than 1000 units a month to even get close to moving the needle.

    From that perspective, only the MS, Leaf and Volt are significant (Volt transition year notwithstanding). The rest are either niche cars (eg i8) or compliance cars (eg Spark).

    But it is interesting to look at the ones that hover near 1,000 per month for insight. For example, the i3 really isn’t getting the momentum (perhaps because the limitations are becoming widely known), which puts a question mark on its future. And the 500e really does sell much better than other compliance cars, which suggests it could take off if it was allowed to be a real car selling everywhere instead of a compliance exercise. The e-Golf is perhaps the most interesting one to watch at the moment since it is consistently building momentum, even with inventory supply constraints.

  5. Taser54 says:

    I saw one of the elusive Honda Accord PHEV in Baltimore last week.

    1. vdiv says:

      No! Did the Earth’s Dreams come true? 😉

  6. Bonaire says:

    Jay, May Europe for Tesla is close to 800 already, may hit 900+

    Thing is – I think you’re high (in terms of numbers) for the USA – perhaps 2000 for May, due to the # of cars that had long journeys on trains to the east coast.

    These guys estimate 1652 for May.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Also, May grand-total appear to continue with my own personal feeling that this year will be a low-growth overall year comparing to 2014. Grand total for May may not be above the grand total of May of 2014 once all numbers are in. I still feel my early-year estimate of 5% growth YoY for all months combined is the possibility unless Volt Gen-II comes out of the gates hard.

      1. Lensman says:

        It seems pretty certain that the Volt 2.0 and the improved-range Leaf will significantly increase PEV sales in the Sep-Dec months of this year. I think, I’m pretty sure, that the InsideEVs editors were already counting on those when they made their prediction of a 25% year-on-year increase for 2015. But perhaps they didn’t count on States such as Georgia curtailing or eliminating their incentives.

        1. Bonaire says:

          Prius plug in and Volt were big in CA due to green stickers, which are gone now. GA, WA and LA are losing incentives. IL has lost its 4000 rebate. I do not see 25% YoY growth remotely possible.

          1. LuStuccc says:

            I don’t know about the enhanced Leaf, but for the Volt and the Prius, They are too high priced, nothing can justify this except the will NOT to sell many.

            1. ModernMarvelFan says:

              Prius Plugin is actual cheaper than similar equipped Prius after Federal Tax Incentives.

              Toyota just doesn’t want to sell any.

              Volt with incentives and federal tax incentives matches what a similar equipped Chevy Cruze would cost anyway. With incentives, Volt sales already improved.

              1. Jay Cole says:


                Still feeling ok with the “~800 or so delivered in the rest of the world during the month”, we had already seen the Norway/Netherlands data – which are traditionally the bulk of the market. The wild card is China, and who knows the how/when/why when it comes to Tesla there, especially only a day or two after month end.

                Might be out by a 75-100ish, but I think that’s acceptable margin of error all things considered.

                PS) Investors has to be either way off in your link, or really know something everyone else doesn’t for June.

                Tesla is guiding to around 11k (they historically put a small beat on a downward revised number), and according to Investors they have 1,652 for May, and 1,371 for April in US, and we know the rest of the world is coming in around 2,200 (?) tops for those two months combined…thats only 5,223 for 2 months, which leaves ~5,777 sales for June, using YTD splits that works out to be like 4300 NA and 1500 internationally, lol. (The other option of course is that Investors thinks they are going to blow the quarter by 3,000 cars)

                1. Khai L. says:

                  Since the delivery dates for new model S’s ordered this weekend already show up as july deliveries, I think they’ve already met their Q2 guidance.

                  Just like last quarter when late march deliveries changed to April/May overnight when their guidance was comfortably met, Q2 should be an easy beat.

                  With that in mind, and your team’s impressive predictions on Q4 ’14 vs. the other publications, I think bionaire’s betting on the wrong horse. I’d take your estimates over everyone else’s anyday.

                  1. See Through says:

                    LOL! There were quarters when Tesla missed delivery targets (Q4 2014), but the estimated delivery did not stay stuck in December. At some point, Tesla gives up and moved the estimate on their website to the next month.
                    So, nothing can be definitely concluded. May miss, may beat – no one knows.
                    For Tesla, n easier way to meet delivery target is to discount inventory cars by huge amounts near the end of quarter to move those cars. They will lose more money, but who cares? A few million more in the piles of burning billions is not that important..

                    1. Lensman says:

                      Gosh yes, I’m sure those demo/loaner cars Tesla sold off at the end of 2014, which you’re characterizing as “inventory” — cars for which Tesla increased the discount from $1 off per mile, to $2 off — made a huge impact on the number they sold in 4th quarter 2014.

                      I remember the days, not so long ago, when Tesla bashing FUD actually had fresh material once in awhile. Sad to see it has fallen to the extent of just repeating the same ol’ cabbage again and again.

                  2. Lensman says:

                    Khail L. said:

                    “With that in mind, and your [InsideEVs] team’s impressive predictions on Q4 ’14 vs. the other publications, I think bionaire’s betting on the wrong horse. I’d take your estimates over everyone else’s anyday.”

                    Hear, hear! Based on some negative comments re InsideEVs on Seeking Alpha, I think there are stock analysts who are discomfited that InsideEVs freely gives away more accurate estimates of Tesla’s monthly deliveries than the estimates in their privately distributed news letters they (over)charge their customers for!

                    InsideEVs has good reason to be proud of the accuracy of their Tesla sales estimates.

  7. What says:

    I leased an e-Golf SEL on Memorial Day (traded in 2012 VW GTI) and I like it so far, even with some range anxiety and range remorse.

    1. David Murray says:

      Too bad the GTE isn’t available in the USA.. that would solve the range anxiety issue.

      1. vdiv says:

        A few CCS plugs here and there would too.

  8. Mike I says:

    Regarding Tesla overseas sales – There is pent-up demand for “The D” in Right Hand Drive markets (mostly UK, HK, Australia). They have just started producing these, so they should be delivered in July and August.

    1. miggy says:

      Order now a 70D and you would have it in September in Australia

  9. ModernMarvelFan says:

    2015 looks to be a down year.

    1. Model X is delay so the volume to ramp up will be limited.
    2. Volt production ramp up will be limited as well with late introduction outside of California.
    3. LEAF production of the new LEAF will be slow to ramp and existing lot will be under pressure to sell.

    We have 3 models to be launched or transitioned this year… Going to be tough to keep up the 2014 numbers.

  10. ydnas7 says:

    Shouldn’t the GM Volt be above the BMW i3?

    Ahh Toyota, self sabotage is a fine art.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      It will be, we don’t ‘re-sort’ from last months order until all the numbers are in…as it causes more problems than solves until then. (The yet-to-report vehicles all get punished lower).

      As a rule, we grab all the numbers within 24 hours.

  11. Ocean Railroader says:

    I don’t think adding 20 miles more range to a 80 mile EV is going to improve sales that much. A part of me feels that if they would have added this new 20 mile add on to the existing leaf back in 2013 it would have improved sales by a larger chunk. But now due to them waiting almost six years to raise the range of the leaf by a small section a lot of people are going to suffer disappointment.

    Nissan could turn this around by surprising us with a 50 mile range improvement across the board.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      I am in 2 minds with nissan and future sales as well. If those extra 20 miles lead to the car costing $38-40k then sales will be largely unaffected but if the 24 kWh unit starts at $20k and the 30 kWh unit is less than $30k Nissan would be back to being supply constrained. I suspect it will be some where in the middle with sales moving up to the 3-4k mark with winter sales at the 1-2k mark. It would be nice to get past the 50k per year mark in the us market next year. Would have been nice to get there this year but the way things stand I’ll be glad if they make it to 30k again.

      1. evnow says:

        Leaf prices won’t change substantially. My guess is even when the gen 2 come out, the prices won’t change much. Nissan generally increases content while keeping the price same.

        1. Just_Chris says:

          I think that is pretty much what everyone expects, if there is a bump in range on the higher trims then I geuss it opens the market up to all those who need another 20-25% range. Is that a lot of people? Not sure but it is definately a step in the right direction.

  12. danpatgal says:

    It might be just me and where I live (central PA), but I still don’t have many choices for an EV. We can only buy a Tesla, i3, Leaf, or iMiev (we have an iMiev). I’m really interested in the e-Golf or Soul EV, but those are not available where I live. And, yes, prices are a bit high for most people to consider these yet (even the iMiev was a bit much for me to spend on a thing – a car – I don’t really want to need).

    So, sales are limited by prices being too high and supplies being too low. I think we could see a continuation of this niche level of sales until Tesla really eats into ICE market share (if they can even do that). Before then, those automakers don’t have a lot of incentive to risk a more committed approach.

  13. yuval Brandstetter MD says:

    For May Tesla was hitting on all cylinders,
    All megawatts, All electrics, All-out performance, what Cylinders?

  14. Randy D says:

    This is what IBD said the may sales were.
    “And even as May sales exploded, sales of pure electric cars went nowhere. In May, the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius PHV and Tesla Model S sold a combined total of 2,831 plug-ins.” Someone’s numbers are way off.

  15. David S. says:

    What’s up with the “NO DATA TO REPORT” for the Focus, Soul and 918?
    The numbers are in, time to update the story 🙂

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey David, sorry the confusion.

      The data is in the story and charts, it looks like we just didn’t pull the header tag down after the data was indeed received.

      Fixed now, thanks!

  16. Kate F says:

    I would happily help the Soul EV sales numbers, if the car ever came to Texas, as promised.