Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard
AUGUST 2015 CAR SALES will be reported On Tuesday, September 1st 2015 beginning with the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt sales at 6:30PT (9:30 AM ET). Ford will be reporting separately on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015.
Every month InsideEVs tracks all the plug-in sales for the United States by auto maker and brand. Below, readers can find all the historical sales charts for the “current generation” of electric vehicles, as well as a synopsis of the current month’s sales happenings by specific EV below the charts..
Individual reports/recaps below of plug-in vehicles sales for the current month are available below charts.
2014 Update: Fiat 500e estimate restated to reflect numbers based on incentive data over less accurate 3rd party data previously used.
July 2015 Monthly Sales Recap
Heading into July, plug-in sales in America had surprisingly crossed the 10,000-mark 2 months in a row, and 3 of the last four – but July is the end of the pleasant surprises, as the anticipation for 3 new offerings in September is crushing sales dreams this month.
With Tesla at least partially distracted by the upcoming Model X, introduction of a new 90 kWh model, as well as some delivery exhaustion in June, the heavy lifting to reaching 10,000 and beyond was left to a couple old faces…and their remaining inventory left before upgrades arrive in the Fall.
Namely, the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt.
Unfortunately, matching year-over-year comps for both July and August is nearly impossible with both the LEAF and Volt currently doing assembly line switch-overs; add to that the Toyota Prius PHV being out of production for the next 15 months and well, we’ll have to wait until September to see those big monthly gains return.
The Nissan LEAF was off more than 60% in July, while the Chevrolet Volt turned in a pretty decent performance, but was still off 35% from a year ago. Last year, an estimated 11,242 EVs were sold in the United States.
We do have to note that as low as sentiment on EV sales in the US appears now, it should be just as high when the new models (and with them sales) start arriving in September.
Also of interest: The first of the “new” 2016 plug-ins arrived in July with the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid selling 10 copies late in the month. The S550 PHV retails from $94,900.
For July the stories of interest to follow were (with answers as they come in):
- Could Nissan survive the pressure for the 2016 and post decent July numbers? (Not even close)
- In June, Chevrolet Volt sales dipped for the first time this year. Is there enough inventory, and enough interest, in the first generation car to reverse that trend? (Yes)
- The Ford Fusion Energi has been surging in sales the past 3 months, besting the BMW i3 in April, May and June. Can Ford logged 167 more Fusion Energi sales this month and pass the i3 to become America’s 4th best selling plug-in? (Fusion Energi sales increased, but not as much as the BMW i3)
- We have had some surprise ‘niche’ EVs come out of no where to log big months (Fiat 500e in March and the Chevrolet Spark EV in April), is there a darkhorse for July too? (BMW surprised us somewhat by selling almost 1,200 plug-ins)
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 5th @ 10:22 AM
Below: Individual sales reports on each plug-in brand for the US
Chevrolet Volt: Given the difficult selling situation the current generation Volt is faced with, the 1,313 sales in July can only be considered a success – especially as that number actually bested the month prior.
We now are in a ‘no-man’s land’ of sorts in August as the last first generation Volt rolled off the line in May, and the first 2016 Volt won’t be arriving until around September (in limited numbers – full rollout out is expected by December).
Previously in June, 1,225 Volts were sold, which ended the string of 5 consecutive monthly improvements for the car.
It was a good sign in July that GM was still keeping aggressive with incentives on the first generation Volt, as currently inventory has dropped to a move than manageable level. About 4,500 are yet to be sold – a number we feel is an appropriate amount of depth ahead of the 2016’s staggered rollout this Fall.
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.
Nissan LEAF: The only number you need to know how thing went for Nissan in July was 61.1 – as in that is how much sales were off in July – 61.1%.
The stress of the expected arrival of a longer range 2016 model in September finally showed up in July sales with just 1,174 sold. A year ago this month, just over 3,000 were moved.
Previously in June, while sales were still off by about 12% from a year ago, Nissan managed to sell more than 2,000 LEAFs during the month for only the second time in 2015, with 2,074 moved.
While in May, the LEAF become only the 2nd car to pass the 2,000-unit sold/per month mark in the industry this year with 2,104 cars sold.
Through the first 7 months of the year, the LEAF is still off by 30% with 10,990 cars sold in 2015, versus 15,755 through July 2014.
While many plug-in cars month-to-month outlook is fairly easy to call, the Nissan LEAF forecast waters are fairly muddy. Like the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan has been in MY 2015 sell-off mode, as the 2016s are expected to be announced imminently. Nissan has ~3,700 2015s yet to move.
The reason for the clearance is that the 2016s in SV and SL trim level will now feature 30 kWh of total power, an improvement of 25% – meaning a theoretical range north of 100 miles. We may see the first of the 2016s trickle onto dealership lots in late September. On the next-gen front (2018) we also had the rumor this month that the LEAF could also see a 5-door and Crossover offering as well.
So what will sales be like from July to September for the best selling plug-in for America? Really, who knows?
Cadillac ELR: Much like the Chevrolet Spark EV, the Cadillac ELR is getting to be a tough vehicle to find on dealer lots. Still, GM managed to sell a few in July, as 66 ELRs were sold
Previously in June, 62 ELRs were sold, which was off about 36% from 2014 when 97 were moved.
Given that inventory of the 2014 ELR is now exceptionally low (there was no 2015 edition), reading anything into the sales number is fairly impossible.
Through the first seven months of 2015, 659 plug-in Cadillacs have been sold, up 15% from the first seven months of 2014 when 578 were sold.
Earlier this year 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.
It is our opinion that the 2016 model year ELR was born out of the desire by GM to get a little more value from the outgoing ‘gen 1′ Voltec line, and the company will produce an undisclosed amount of ELRs this summer before turning off production and discontinuing the model indefinitely. 2016 Cadillac ELR production began last week for an undisclosed amount of time according to sources.
BMW i3: BMW rebounded nicely from a pretty disappointing June by selling 935 i3s in July.
2015 has been a bit of a roller coaster for sales on the plug-in BMW, previously notching 551, 818, 406 and 922 sales prior to June.
For the year, the i3 has now sold 5,391 cars, for an average of 770 per month.
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.
Heading into August, national inventory of the BMW i3 is closing in on an all-time high around 2,500 units. What remains to be seen is if this number represents foreshadowing of greater sales this fall, or just less demand over the summer?
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.
In June Tesla made a big push to move cars in North America to best their forecast of 10,000-11,000 units sold in the 2nd quarter, and they were ultimately successful, moving 11,507 cars.
We’d like to take a moment here to say we totally called that one. From last month’s report, “We aren’t really in the predicting business, but if we were, we think Tesla edged out guidance in Q2 easily by more than a few hundred units.” For Q2 in total we put Model S sales in the US at ~6,900, but will have to wait until Tesla’s Q2 report later this week to see how close we got to the number regionally.
As expected, July was definitely a sales pullback month of sorts. The question really is by how much?
The bulk of the NA Model S sedans sold in July seemed to get scheduled/delivered late in the month. Add in some plant reconfiguring, some RHD production and the mystery that is the Model X, this is the first month we have to say the sales prediction waters are more than a little muddy. That being said, once we get a better look at August, it should once again average out nicely.
For July we estimate Tesla sold 1,600 Model S sedans.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: When discussing the current inventory situation with a Chevrolet spokesperson today, our conversation used words like “super tight”, because after some huge results earlier this year, the just is hardly any Spark EVs left to be had.
For July, GM did manage to scrounge up 57 copies to sell.
For the first 6 months of 2015, 1,842 have been sold, which is already 61% more than was sold in all of 2014 (1,145). Even though we are only at the half-way mark, we will give the little Chevy the “most improved sales” trophy a little early.
Earlier in the Spring, GM also confirmed the Spark EV would live on (in first generation trim) for one more year while waiting on the Chevrolet Bolt to arrive in 2017, however the Spark EV is only build in South Korea and production is sporadic at best.
After speaking with GM and getting their take on new 2016 inventory, we don’t expect to see any new inventory of the plug-in Spark until September at the earliest, so one can consider future low summer sales to be a result of the car’s own success. Heading into August, well under 100 Spark EVs remaining unclaimed in inventory.
What triggered all the sales of late? 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: Once again in July the Fusion Energi was the “high volume EV seller you can count on”, putting up another steady result with 852 cars sold.
Previously in June 727 cars sold.
The Ford is now less than 250 cumulative cars sold behind the BMW i3 this year in America. The battle for 4th pance rages on.
In May, both of Ford’s “Energi” products did well, but the Fusion Energi was tops at 985 cars sold – the highest sales level for the Ford in 2015.
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.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: A little more flush with the last of the 2015 inventory arriving in July, the Prius PHV sales increased 25% over June with 584 plug-ins sold.
For June, just 464 Prius PHVs were sold as production of the current generation of Prius PHV ended during the month.
May 2015 is still the car’s the best selling month with 727 Prius PHV sold, it was also the best result for the model since August of 2014.
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.
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 newly produced cars to sell over that period. We do expect inventories to see a slight bump this summer as the final build-out might mean some additional depth for America before the long hiatus begins.
On the inventory front, the question remains – “how many Prius PHVs did Toyota build up for the US market before it turned off the lights?” Heading in August, about 650 were registered on lots, but Toyota likely has some quantity penned up for dealers to draw from in the future.
Our prediction, regardless of what the plug-in Prius sells this summer, there isn’t going to be hardly any left by the fall, and even low volume cars like the Focus Electric are going to clean its ‘sales clock’ next year – which is a shame, because the demand to still move 1,000 a month has never waned with the US public, only Toyota’s desire to sell them.
Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid: When it comes to plug-in luxury, there is a new boss in town! Arriving just this month, the Mercedes S550 presents a level of refinement previously unseen in the EV segment for the US.
Late into its debut month, Mercedes sold 10 of the premium sedan, which starts at $94,400.
Despite its huge footprint, and pretty heavy weight (just north of 5,000lbs), the electric motor and turbo 6 cylinder still manage to zip the Mercedes to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, while giving the car 24 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway.
Range is rated at 20 mile with the Prius-like “electric + gas” tag, meaning you have to drive with a certain light-footedness to get the 20 miles on just electricity. The S550 has a 8 kWh battery on board, so expect about a $4,700 federal tax credit with your purchase.
Volkswagen e-Golf: VW’s first attempt at selling an all-electric car in the US continues to find decent traction with 313 sales in July. Not great, but not bad either.
For June, VW sold a decent 293 e-Golfs as Americans seem to be cautiously coming around to the German EV.
Looking at strong European sales, and the amount of EVs VW is selling 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 August, inventories closed in on 1,000 copies to be purchased in America, another new high, but still not deep enough – 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.
Ford C-Max Energi: The C-Max Energi narrowly missed turning in its best result of the year by selling 693 extended range plug-ins for July
Previously in June, 667 C-Max Energis, with the month prior being the best year-to-date with 715 sold in May.
So far though the first 7 months of 2015, 4,236 C-Max Energis have been sold, which is lagging the pace from 2014 when Ford sold 8,433 for the entire year.
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.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED: In July, and as steady as always, Mercedes sold 196 B-Class EDs in America.
The B-Class electric drive also performed decently in June with 242 sales from a still limited rollout in the United States.
That being said, the 2015s have finally arrived in slight volume for the US, and with that, hopefully the start of soon being able to match demand with sales.
The bad news is that the 2015 model year arrived very late to the US, and now its 2016 model year season. Total lose-lose for B-Class ED sales so far in 2015.
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 a year ago. If Mercedes ever decided to really promote the EV we are confident it could sell 300-400 odd units each month without much trouble.
BMW i8: Like its sister car, the i3, the BMW i8 also had a very strong showing in July selling 217 cars, bringing the year to date amount of luxury plug-in sports cars sold close to 1,00 units.
July also marks the highest level of i8 sales for BMW in 2015 by a long shot (Apr – 138), and is also a new all-time record, passing October of 2014’s 204 cars sold.
Previously in June, 137 were sold – which at the time was close to a yearly high.
Truthfully, “consistency” has been the word for BMW i8 sales, as sales have remained steady since its launch. However, looking at some additional inventory finally being available (and additional sales from that deeper inventory) this month, perhaps the better term should have been “allocation-restrained”?
All great results so far in 2015, as it only takes about 25 days for a car landed in the US to find a home. We don’t expected to see what the normalized demand is in the US for the i8 until the company can better produce the car.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: For July, only 23 Panamera EVs were sold. Not the cars worst showing to date – but fairly close.
Last month 34 were sold, with the year-low coming in May with 21 moved off lots. The upcoming refresh probably can’t come soon enough.
Looking at the yearly trend, and the Cayenne S e-Hybrid is clearly taking more and more away from its sibling.
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.
Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid:
Besting its sibling Panamera by a good margin, the Cayenne plug-in sold 77 copies in July. That number was still a slight decrease from June when 88 were moved.
The Cayenne S e-Hybrid all-time record was in May with 105 sold.
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 incredibly tight, falling back below 100 units again in July.
When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have 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.
As the summer deepened, we find so did Fiat 500E sales, with an estimated 485 sold during July, which continues the cars very strong run of late after selling ~363 in June. Truly the Fiat 500e is the kind of the regional/compliance offerings in America.
The all-time high water mark was an estimated 1,310 estimated sales of the 500e in March.
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.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: For July, Mitsubishi sold a further 12 i-MiEVs in the US, breaking a string of 4 consecutive monthly highs after moving 23 copies in June.
In wider news: 2016s are here! 2016s are here!
Unfortunately not that many. A quick check around the US by ourselves at June’s end only returned about 50 copies, roughly the same as the past 2 months.
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.”
For its part, Mitsu says it will continue to sell cars the way it always has, which is by relying on customers coming into dealerships and practically demanding a car.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: For July, smart returned to 3 digits, selling 109 2 seat EVs for the month
Previously in June, just 93 smart EDs were sold in a month when the Cabrio edition probably should have bumped sales of the smallest EV in America.
The best selling month this year for the electric drive smart was April when 124 were sold.
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.
Ford Focus Electric: Hit the snooze on the alarm, as Ford once again sold “100 and something” Focus Electrics in July with 135 more all-electric sedans sold.
- Previously in June 152 were moved.
- If you are keeping track of this sort of thing (and we can’t imagine why you would be), July’s result makes 27 of the past 30 months in the hundred-zone.
- Previously, in February through April, 145, 140 and 124 Focus Electrics were moved…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) in 2014.
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 plug-ins sales from petrol ones.
After sales had improved in June (to 109 units) we had hoped the Soul EV would continue to trend higher, however that was not the case with 59 sold in July.
This three-digit result in June was 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?
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.
Honda Accord Plug-In: Ok Honda, we want a name!
Who was it exactly who bought that single Accord PHV in July – and how much did they pay?
Yes, the plug-in Accord has hit a new low and doesn’t have any further to fall…something we weren’t sure was possible after just 4 copies were sold in June.
Before June, 5 units were sold in each of the 3 prior months, bring the grand total to 60 Accords PHV moved to date.
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.
UPDATE (June): Honda has finally put the Accord PHV out to pasture! Yes the 10th oldest plug-in brand in America (and arguably the least successful) is done. Honda has said there will be no future Accord PHV model, as the company will now focus on making both a fully electric and PHEV car that are more commercially viable (as opposed to being more of compliance plays).
Points to Honda for finally coming around to electric vehicles!
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.
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 July, 40 more of Porsche’s supercar were built and delivered in America after 29 were sold a month ago.
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.