Tesla Model S Holds Onto Top Spot As The Top Selling Electric Car In The US Through March

4 years ago by Jay Cole 11

Tesla CEO Celebrates The First Deliveries Of The Model S In 2012.  Will He Celebrate Being The EV Sales King For 2013É

Tesla CEO Celebrates The First Deliveries Of The Model S In 2012. Will He Celebrate Being The EV Sales King For 2013É

When Tesla took over the electric vehicle sales lead in January of this year, we chalked-up the win to a perfect storm of issues plaguing the other plug-in automakers.  There was a three week factory idling of the Volt, a production issue with the LEAF (as in there wasn’t any), and Ford had seemingly lost their way getting their new C-Max Energi to costumers.

Tesla Has Opened Up A Decent Lead Over The Chevrolet Volt Through The First Three Months Of 2013

Tesla Has Opened Up A Decent Lead Over The Chevrolet Volt Through The First Three Months Of 2013

Then January turned to February, and the Model S hung tight with the Chevy Volt, both around 2,700 cars sold through the first two months, with the Nissan LEAF, Ford C-Max Energi, and Toyota Prius plug-in all falling well off the pace.

Now, it appears as production for the Model S is peaking, the demand for the Volt may have crested, at least until the 2014 model goes on sale in May of this year.

For March, Chevy sold 1,140 Volts, while Tesla churned out better than 500 electric sedans per week to customers during the month, and sold an estimated 2,150 cars; based on previous month’s sales estimates less Tesla’s own statement that they sold “more than 4,750” cars for the first quarter.  That gives Tesla a 500+ sales cushion on the lead for top US seller of EVs going into April of this year.

  • Tesla Model S 4,750+
  • Chevrolet Volt 4,244
  • Nissan LEAF 3,539
  • Toyota Prius Plug-In 2,353

Interestingly, the battle for first overall may not end up against the extended range Chevy, as Nissan’s new 2013 LEAF, complete with some new features on the high end, and a $6,400 pricing reduction at the low end (now starting at 28,800), as re-energized the EV, and made the LEAF the top seller for March with 2,236 cars sold.  Nissan anticipates April to also be a very strong month for sales as more inventory fills dealer lots.

Regardless of whoever crosses the finish line in first for 2013, overall electric vehicle sales are on pace to easily obliterate 2012 results, and that is good for everyone looking to buy (or make) plug-in vehicles in the future.

To check out the overall sales of electric vehicles, as well as individual reports on each plug-in, for March of 2013 check out our monthly scorecard here.

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11 responses to "Tesla Model S Holds Onto Top Spot As The Top Selling Electric Car In The US Through March"

  1. Mark H says:

    I don’t think anyone can fully realize the impact that a luxury brand will have on the growth of the EV market. Whether Tesla finishes on top or not will not matter. The fact that there is an affluent group anxious to buy a EV luxury sedan will have tremendous positive impact on the industry. This secotr of EVs will take care of itself and I don’t think it was factored in by any of the early think tanks.

    For the common sector, gaining traction with charging stations at work will be essential over the next five years. Tom Moloughney made a nice argument for this in a recent blog. I am still unclear how to accelerate this piece of infrastructure in the workplace, but I think it will be the next critical hurdle for adoption and acceptance. For now, what a great report for March! Hey how many days to the April report?

    1. Anderlan says:

      There is a path forward for the Leaf and other EVs. That path is having higher, MUCH higher kilowatt stations available in the wild, and having cars that can handle the higher kilowatt station power levels.

      This is the bad news:
      Many public stations are 240V AC……around 3-5kW……or 9-15* miles per hour

      Most public stations are 240V AC……around 6-10kW…….or 18-30 miles per hour

      A few are DC fast charging……around 10-15kW……or 30-45 miles per hour

      I don’t know of ANY DC fast charging stations that even get CLOSE to maxing out the spec on their standard……50kW……or 150 miles per hour–or popping a Leaf up to 80% in 40 minutes. This at least makes it so you can get a one-to-one driving time-to-charging time ratio while city-hopping. But, a Leaf can’t handle that power, and while the chargine spec goes up that high, THE CHARGERS DON’T EXIST IN THE WILD.

      Keep in mind that Tesla’s superchargers, the only thing close to a convenient city-hopping charge rate, is……90kW!

      * A good rule of thumbe is to multiple the kW times 3 to get your miles per charging hour. This is just a shade above 100mpge. It allows a reasonable guess for highway and gives a healthy amount leeway in city travel.

      What I, or someone, really, really needs to do is survey the power level, in kW, of charging stations in the wild.

      Also, I don’t know how stations are described presently, but I don’t think “Level 1” or “Level 2” or “240V” or “480V” or “Level 3” all this crap is very helpful, because you NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET. THE BEST WAY TO DESCRIBE A STATION IS TO SAY HOW MANY KILOWATTS IT PUTS OUT. What type of connecter your car has, and whether it can take a given kW charging load, is but a simple yes or no, and becomes something that consumers can easily demand of their OEM.

      I don’t think most humans are incapable of multiplying by 3 to get their miles per hour of charge. It represrents a good combination of technical simplicity (so that technical consumers can’t be fooled by too much unstandardized abstraction) and reasonably low level of math involved (so that average consumers can easily guess their miles per hour of charging, or just how long it’ll take to top off (a 24kwh battery plugged into an 8kw charger takes…you got it, 24/8 = 3 hours. Dead simple.)

      1. Mark H says:

        All valid points for chargers “in the wild” as you call them. I see workplace chargers quite differently.

        The output will be less significant where the vehicle is parked for 8 hours or more and you are well aware of the output. Even with Level 1 chargers, 20 mile PHEVs effectively become 40 mile PHEVs, 40 mile PHEVs effectively become 80 mile PHEVs. Even 60-80 mile BEVs can add 40 miles to their commute. This would encompass well over 85% of commuter miles and that makes up for a huge amount of miles driven in the US market.

        1. Anderlan says:

          Workplace charging is very important. It is definitely one place where getting above 6kW is not important. I would say it’s one of the only places where 3-6kW has few drawbacks!

          I just wanted to get out of my head my forward-looking spiel about the chasm of room for improvement there is in public stations, and the benefit of labeling them by kW, even for the most casual user.

          1. Acevolt says:

            I am working with my company to put in chargers and all we want is level 1 chargers. That would make my 45 mile one way commute work great for something like a Leaf or Focus EV.

            1. doudis2 says:

              I would not count on that. What happens the day the L1 sockets are all in use and you cannot charge? If you owned a Leaf you will not make it home.

              I have a Volt and I have zero range anxiety. My company just installed L2 chargers, but I still would not own an EV that could not take me to work and back at least 1.5x.

              My commute is 42.1 miles each way, so I would want about 150 miles of range before I would give up my EREV – Extended Range EV.

              Good luck Ace, but be careful, we would not want to see you get stranded:)

      2. Anderlan says:

        Playing with this math some more yields some interesting approximations!

        I used to really hate the kwh unit, prefering standard, technically simpler, and most importantly, non-redundant, most importantly, “Joules” instead (1kwh = 3.6MJ).

        Interesting things about converting your battery’s kwh to megaJoules:
        100MJ ~= 100miles of frugal (55mph) range

        24kwh (Leaf battery) = 86.4MJ.
        Sure enough, 86.4 miles is almost the maximum comfortable range of a Leaf!

        85kWh (largest Tesla battery) = 306MJ.
        Sure enough, Telsa says this gives 300 miles of frugal range.

  2. bloggin says:

    The Americans Take the Lead for 1st Qtr 2013!!

    EVs: Tesla Model S at 4,750 outsold Nissan Leaf at 3,839

    Plug-in Hybrids: Chevy Volt at 4,244 outsold the Prius plug-in at 2,353 for 5 consecutive quarters in the US, and 3 consecutive quarters in Canada.

    1. bloggin says:

      What’s telling is that for March, Toyota maintained about 1,500 Prius plug-ins in inventory, while offering a huge cash discount and a lease cheaper than the base Prius lift back, but still was not able to move more units than January, and 105 less units than March 2012.

      C-MAX had a sales increase of 586 over last month, so it will be interesting how many were for Energi plug-in, with Energi inventory, averaging over 900 units for March(3,769 total sales).

  3. Josh says:

    I have a feeling Tesla will fall out of the race quickly after EU deliveries begin in July. And at that point, it will be much more difficult to guestimate US only deliveries. Tesla doesn’t differentiate US and Canada sales in their financial news and is unlikely to do so with EU sales.

    Last thing left would be scouring the Tesla forums to see if people receiving cars are posting their VINs.

    1. Brian F says:

      My Tesla S will pop out of the factory this week #7454. Maybe today, as my Tesla dashboard no longer says they are building my car.

      As for our decision to buy the Tesla S we wanted a status car that was comparable to BMW, Audi and Mercedes. (mid-life crisis cliche I know) The Volt didn’t fit the bill, the Fisker Atlantic never materialized and all the other EV only cars left you needing the “in the wild” charging stations too often.

      I live outside Boston and will be able to drive around eastern MA without worrying about the cars state of charge. When we drive to Philly to see the in-laws the supercharging stations full up the car in an hour while we get lunch. The Tesla S meets my needs with little to no compromise from what I do today. This is not yet true for many would be buys and resolving this will be key to success. The hybrid plug-in market will grow and Tesla’s “Bluestar” may offer fast charging vehicles at a normal price point.

      The good news is more plug-in cars are being built every day. The more customers charging stations could have…the more stations they will build.