Op-Ed: 2015 Plug In Sales Predictions For America


Hyundai Sonata PHEV On Sale In The US In 2015

Hyundai Sonata PHEV On Sale In The US In 2015

Now that NAIAS has ended (here is the recap), we now know what plug-ins will be available in the US for 2015.  The biggest news for 2015 was the much anticipated Volt 2016 (2.0) release.  We got some glimpses of future plug-ins, but no surprise 2015 US releases.

Audi A3 e-Tron - Also Arriving in 2015 In US  (Image: Tom Mouloughney/InsideEVs)

Audi A3 e-Tron – Also Arriving in 2015 In US (Image: Tom Mouloughney/InsideEVs)

I am going to take a look at the sales drivers (up and down) for each model that I feel measures EV demand.  This means I am going to skip all of the obvious compliance cars.  I will touch on a few of the lower volume, high end plug-ins as these have nationwide availability and can point us to interest in those market segments.

There are a few key factors to sales that effect the entire segment: One is the (up to) $7500 federal tax credit.  This is good for all automakers up to 200k sales of plug-ins.  Nobody is close yet, GM and Nissan are in the 70s.  In a couple years we may be talking about how the early guys might get burned by this, but for now nobody should be concerned if the credit will run out before they buy their plug-in. *This is a tax thing, so check with an accountant to make sure you can get the whole credit on your specific vehicle purchase…don’t trust the sales guy on it.  Most lease deals roll the credit in, so if you don’t qualify look into this option.

Another factor that is all over the news is gas prices.  I already covered it in another piece, so you can read up on that in this article.  Here is the “cliff notes” version: it might affect some plug-ins, but not nearly as bad as it does “regular” hybrids.  Low gas prices don’t last forever, but many car buyers have poor long term memory.  It probably won’t have much of an effect on people familiar with plug-ins, but it may slow the education process with the un-initiated.

Thousands Of EV Will Be Coming Off Lease For The First Time in 2014 (Image: Scott F)

Thousands Of EV Will Be Coming Off Lease For The First Time in 2014 (Image: Scott F)

Finally, one of the biggest factors- return customers.

Plug-ins have been purchased on lease at a much higher rate than normal car transactions over the last four years.  Two factors are directly related: it is a new technology and the tax credit can be rolled into a lease at the time of the transaction to offer attractive monthly payments.  The most common lease term is 36 months.  If you rewind to 2012, 52k plug-ins were sold, tripling 2011.  Almost 45k of that was Volt, LEAF, and PiP.

There may be as many as 30k leases coming to an end this year.  The satisfaction ratings on plug-ins dwarf the rest of the auto industry.  Expect almost all of those buyers to be back into another plug-in. As usual, I offer my opinions as starting point for the discussion.  Please weigh in below in the comments and help us form a community consensus on 2015 sales.

*DisclosureSince this piece is talking about future sales of EVs including Tesla, I will let everyone know that I do own a small amount of TSLA shares.  This in no way effects my opinion of Tesla or the other automakers.  The stocks were more of “support for the cause” purchase.  Additionally, this is not a financial site and nobody should be using anything I write to guide investment decisions.


2014 Nissan LEAF Sales

2014 Nissan LEAF Sales

Nissan (LEAF 32k)

Autonomous LEAF Visits New Home At NASA’s Ames Research Center Earlier This Month

Autonomous LEAF Visits New Home At NASA’s Ames Research Center Earlier This Month

First up is our sales king for 2014 Nissan LEAF.  Nissan will have no new plug-ins available in 2015 and not really any significant revision to the LEAF. They have been perfecting their LEAF marketing machine and benefited from the ever growing CHAdeMO infrastructure.

There are limited official comments out from Carlos Ghosn about LEAF 2.0 having “double” the range available (this maybe an optional larger pack for more $,$$$).  But things are far enough into the future, I don’t expect it to limit Nissan’s ability to move (especially lease) current LEAFs which have received several revisions including packages (S model), features (leather, key fob, etc.), and most importantly the new “lizard” (heat tolerant) battery.

Last year Nissan cracked the 30k sales barrier for the first time in any country.  This is significant to me as I predicted GM would sell exactly 30k of the Volt in 2013, not expecting them to seemingly lose interest in it.  Nissan has succeed where GM failed.

LEAF hit some real headwinds early, but Nissan is determined to be the premier OEM in the economy EV market.  They seem determined to oust Toyota as the “Green Vehicle Company from Japan”. Even without any significant new catalyst, I expect Nissan to continue their march with LEAF.  I see 32,000 sales in 2015.  They will also claim the first to 100k sales in the US.

2014 Chevy Volt Sales

2014 Chevy Volt Sales

GM (Volt 30k, ELR 1k)

2016 Chevrolet Volt Arrives In Second Half Of 2015 (Photo: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

2016 Chevrolet Volt Arrives In Second Half Of 2015 (Photo: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

It is all about Volt 2.0.  GM will do what they have to do sweep the limited 2015s they built off the lot, but the real excitement will start late summer.

This year will really depend on how many 2016 Volts they build and if they really try to sell them.  I will measure GM’s commitment to selling the Volt on MSRP and marketing.

We got all the juicy tech and design details at NAIAS, but they cleverly left off the price (even though they gave one for the Bolt).  If it has an MSRP starting with a number greater than 2, then they really aren’t serious about attacking the Prius.

I am going to stick my neck out and say GM is really serious this time.  We could see some crazy record monthly numbers the second half of this year.  I am going to say 30k for the year (repeating my 2013 prediction) and 5k+ in a single month!

With the meaningful inventory and MSRP, this thing will sell itself (despite salesmen distain).  Marketing will just be gravy. Oh, GM also sells the really overpriced (and beautiful) ELR.  They will sell a few of them, but not meaningful enough to discuss.  Lets call it 1k.

Ford (Fusion Energi 8k, C-Max Energi 6k, FFE 1.5k)

Ford's Cumulative Plug-In Family Makes The Company A Serious Player In The US Market (Image From 2015 Geneva Auto Show)

Ford’s Cumulative Plug-In Family Makes The Company A Serious Player In The US Market (Image From 2015 Geneva Auto Show)

Did anyone notice that Ford was the #2 seller of plug-in vehicles?

Yeah thats right, Tesla isn’t #1 (Nissan is), GM isn’t #2 (Ford owns that). They have their own quiet formula to plug-in sales, which is their Energi option.  They just have a plug-in option on two of their high volume vehicles.

This was financed by a huge low interest loan ($5+ billion) under the same program that financed the Model S production equipment.  Ford cleverly modified several of their production facilities to produce alternate versions (plug-ins) of their regular cars.  This has allowed them to price the plug-in versions at reasonable prices. The strategy is working, they sold 20k Energi models last year.

Unfortunately we aren’t getting any new Energi models this year.  I was really hoping to see an Escape or Explorer Energi this year.

Fuel prices will also work against Ford’s Energi strategy this year.  I see them slipping a little with 8k Fusion Energi sales, and 6k C-max Energi sales. Oh, Ford also sells an all electric version of the Focus (FFE) that is pretty much like a good looking version of the LEAF that nobody knows about.  If you hassle your local Ford dealer, you might be able to get them to special order one.  Ford might sell another 1.5k of those this year.

2014 Tesla Model S Sales

2014 Tesla Model S Sales

Tesla (Model S 26k, Model X 6k)

Tesla Model X Spent Some Time Promoting Tesla's Boutique Store Program In Texas This Month - Hopefully A Lot Of Copies Also Spend Some Time In Consumer's Driveways

Tesla Model X Spent Some Time Promoting Tesla’s Boutique Store Program In Texas This Month – Hopefully A Lot Of Copies Also Spend Some Time In Consumer’s Driveways

Now to the darling (or prima donna) of the industry.  Tesla is by far #1 in media coverage in the plug-in world.  They are the most polarizing company in the industry, often compared as the “Apple of the auto industry”.

I think this may be more attributed to TSLA stock prices than actual auto reality.  Tesla and TSLA are really two different animals.  There is no doubt though, the current plug-in industry would not be where it is without Tesla.

Most people have forgotten (or never knew about) the Roadster that kick started the current generation of EVs we see on the streets today. I look at plug-ins as a sub-brand of the entire auto industry.  In that sense, Tesla is the halo vehicle.  Love or hate the company, few people would turn away a Model S for free.  It is clearly the most advanced plug-in vehicle. Oh yeah, the price, its basically a $100k car.  There are cheaper versions, but the average selling price hovers right around the six figure mark.

Despite the sticker shock, Model S managed to be the 3rd best selling plug-in vehicle model for the second straight year.

Tesla has also refreshed the options on Model S, adding a dual motor all-wheel-drive, “AutoPilot”, better seating, and some new software gizmos.  Tesla also claims to have doubled production capacity to 1200 vehicles (worldwide) per week.  I will put their US sales at 26k.

Tesla is also (finally) delivering Model X (two years late).  Despite the delays, it should be an awesome vehicle, touted to have 911 performance with Odyssey utility.  It is the anti-minivan for soccer moms: fast, sexy, but also full of space.  I am guessing it will get released just in time for the 2016 Motor Trend picks.  It will probably pick up some hardware before the year is out. Production is sold out for this year.  That really means, it will get released so late this year there is no way to deliver the ~20k (worldwide) that are pre-reserved.

Tesla is still a small company, so it makes sense for them to only sell the Model X in the US to start with.  It allows them to work out the kinks before delivering to their less experienced services markets.  I am guessing they get 6k out the door before the next New Years bash.

2014 Toyota Prius PHV Sales

2014 Toyota Prius PHV Sales

Toyota (PiP 10k)

I was conflicted about even including Toyota this year.  Despite significant sales of the PiP it is still only available in CARB markets.  It really shows they have no intent of the plug-in version cutting into the significant margins they enjoy with the regular Pruis family.

Toyota deserves their success with the Prius, but they also deserve the demise if they don’t see the writing on the wall. Toyota will sell every PiP they care to build.

Prius has a massive following, so PiP has an incredible sales potential.  If Toyota employed a strategy like Ford, PIP sales should be in the 40k – 50k per year range.  Instead we should expect about 10k sales in 2015, as this is all they need for CARB complaince. Toyota’s Rav4 EV program ended this year.  This is no surprise as it was a 2600 vehicle contract that both Tesla and Toyota honored faithfully.  That satisfied Toyota’s ZEV Credit appetite in the near term.  The next phase of their CARB compliance strategy is to demo their fuel cell tech in the Miria.  Don’t expect any other BEVs from Toyota until after the next ZEV credit ramp in 2018.

2014 BMW i3 Sales

2014 BMW i3 Sales


2014 BMW i8 Sales

2014 BMW i8 Sales

BMW (i3 10k, i8 2k, X5 plug-in 1k)

Biggest Sales Surprise Of 2014?  Probably The Demand For The Ultra High-End BMW i8

Biggest Sales Surprise Of 2014? Probably The Demand For The Ultra High-End BMW i8

Congrats to the newcomer of the year.  Even though BWM ends 2014 as the #5 manufacturer of plug-ins, they hit the market strong this year.

BMW seems serious about being a plug-in brand.  Some people have criticisms of the i3 (few have criticisms of the i8), but BMW seems to be standing behind it.  This is clearly not a compliance vehicle play.

BMW really differentiated themselves by offering the REx version as an option on the i3.  This is by far the most interesting portion of the BMW design.

In addition to the two plug-ins in 2014, they may be the first to the US market with a plug-in SUV with the X5 plug-in for 2015.  It doesn’t seem to end there as they have plans for a 3-series plug-in. BMW worked hard on their marketing and education of the i3 in 2014, even offering 3 day trials, to help people understand its awesomeness.

Their pricing (especially leasing deals) have evolved since the initial release.  This jumped the sales from the initial 300s a month to touching ~1,000 a month.

With no new features and a the new Volt on the streets to compete with the REx version, I will pin the 2015 sales at 10k. i8 is another story.  It seems to continue to climb in interest as production increases.  At $150k per car, it has a limited a market, but even BMW has to be surprised by its appeal.  BWM will embarrass a few compliance OEMs by selling 2k of these in 2015. The X5-plug in will be the wild card for BMW.  Since we don’t know what the availability and pricing will be, I will guess 1k sales for 2015.

Daimler/Mercedes/Smart (Smart EV 2.5k, B Class EV 4k)

They are in a weird category of non-compliance but relatively low volume.  Despite the limited offerings, the company made strong moves to improve sales on both vehicle fronts, Smart and B Class.  They ended the year at ~300 a month on both vehicles.

It is also important to note Smart EV sales run ~30% of all Smart sales.  They might be building something there.  There is also promise to extend B Class availability nationwide in 2015.  I will give them 2.5k Smart and 4k B class sales in 2015.

2015 Wildcard?  Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

2015 Wildcard? Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Porsche (Panamera S E-Hybrid 500, Cayennee S E-Hybrid 2.5k)

Here is our high price low volume, but not really a compliance car EV company.

I think Porsche is intrigued by plug-ins, even if they were given a nudge by Tesla.  They also have strong incentive to develop the technology for EU compliance.

The Panamera S E-Hybrid seems to hold its own with ~10% of sales.  Since people aren’t buying $100k cars to save gas money, it means smooth, quiet EV drive is desirable.

The Cayennee S E-Hybrid just hit the market at the end of the year.  Cayenne volumes are 10x Panamera volumes, so 2015 will be interesting to follow. I am going to predict 500 Panamera SE sales and 2.5k Cheyenne SE sales.


Mitsubishi (iMiev 1k, Outlander PHEV 20,000^0 = 1)

Despite being the first to worldwide market with the iMiev, Mitsubishi has not found much of a market in the US.  Mitsubishi has faded as a US brand since its 1990s heydays with the 3000 GT, Eclipse, small trucks and early 2000s success with the Lancer (especially EVOs).

The Outlander is the only vehicle remaining that garners meaningful sales.  Ironically Mitsubishi developed a worldwide hit in the PHEV version of the Outlander.  Despite teasing the US with many announcements and concepts, they have withheld sales in the “SUV nation”.

This should end this year. I am going to predict iMieV sales at 1k, if they ship some inventory here.  They don’t make money on them or ship inventory so there isn’t much hope.  The biggest thing going against iMieV, is it shares battery cells with the runaway hit, Outlander PHEV.

As for Outlander PHEV sales, I am predicting…1.  That’s right not 10k, not 1k, 1, the integer just above zero.  The last update we had was “Late 2015”.  It will be real easy for that to be 1 token press release delivery at Christmas and real deliveries in 2016.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Will Be A Huge Player In The US In 2016, The Only Question Is How Many Days Will It Be On Sale In 2015?   (GX5 Shown)

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Will Be A Huge Player In The US In 2016, The Only Question Is How Many Days Will It Be On Sale In 2015? (GX5 Shown)

VW (eGolf 2k)

VW e-Golf - A Tricky Peg For 2015 (shown from LA Auto Show)

VW e-Golf – A Tricky Peg For 2015 (shown from LA Auto Show)

This is the 2015 wild card.

Golf just won car of the year, with press including eGolf.  Will the eGolf have nationwide availability?  Are they going to go after Nissan, or just be satisfied to build some CARB credits?

I am guessing the latter and will keep them down at 2k sales.


Others (15k)

I will include a long list of vehicles here including new models that will hit at some point this year and all the compliance vehicles.

The incomplete list is: Audi A3 e-Tron, Merc c350 plug-in, Merc s500 plug-in, Hyundai Sonata PHV, Audi Q7 diesel PHV, R8 e-tron, Kia Optima PHV, Volvo xc90, Cadillac CT6 Plug-In, Chevy Spark EV, Kia Soul EV, Honda Accord PHEV,  and Fiat 500e.

Since the rollout of new plug-ins has been notoriously both delayed and limited regionally, I will keep this category at a conservative 15,000 for the year.


Total Market (150k)

That is enough for the vehicle-by-vehicle discussion, time to take a shot as the segment as a whole.  Sales jumped from 97k to 123k over the last year.

The industry is entering its first renewal phase combined with the late year entry of Volt 2.0 and new Tesla offerings.  I will put the total sales target at 150k for 2015. That is 22-25% growth on a solid base of sales.  It will put total sales firmly over the “1% of the auto market” category.  In other words, more than 1 in every 100 new vehicles you see on the road will have a plug.  This is solid, steady growth, leading up to the explosion that seems to be forming in the 2017/2018 timeframe.    


Now fire away with your own predictions in the comments below!

Category: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, VW

59 responses to "Op-Ed: 2015 Plug In Sales Predictions For America"
  1. Omar Sultan says:

    The Tesla number seems light – they predicted 33K cars delivered this year in the Q3 shareholder letter and reaffirmed their 2015 guidance, which, IIRC has them at an annualized run rate of 100K by the end of the year.

    I think the big problem for GM is they have six months of product overhang until the Volt 2.0 comes out. Normally they could use incentives to clear out inventory, but, I cannot see an informed buyer falling for that and I would argue EV buyers are better informed than most. It may force them to reach out to a broader audience which might not be a bad thing.

    1. gsned57 says:

      For the right price Gen 1 Volt will sell just fine. And to folks who don’t need the 5th seat or care that much about infotainment it shouldn’t be that hard of a sell.

      1. kdawg says:

        Yes, there are a lot of people looking for an “affordable” Volt. So they may get their wish.

    2. Josh Bryant says:

      I think the Tesla number is basically in line with guidance. The final numbers will have to do with where they decide to allocate production and I am only talking US sales here. They really don’t care where they sell them, as they make the same profit in every market.

      Since the Volt 1.0 has such a strong reliability record and some have shown a preference to the old exterior styling, I think Chevy can move them. They have proved in the past they can put together leasing deals that will get them off the lots. I expect the same this summer.

      1. Omar Sultan says:

        Ah, good point, was not thinking about US-only numbers for Tesla.

  2. David Murray says:

    I’m in agreement with most of this, but I think the Ford Energi predictions are too pessimistic, especially predicting they will sell less this year than last. Also, I am slightly more optimistic on BMW i3 sales. I’m hoping they’ll stay at or above 1,000 sales per month. I wouldn’t be surprised to see August sales hit 2,000.

    1. Josh Bryant says:

      I could be wrong about the Energi line, but they are set to face the most new competition this year. I hope they blow it out, but they finished slow last year, when sales are typically peaking. I was really bummed that we didn’t get an Energi surprise this year. The new Escape is screaming for the Energi option. Per the website, http://www.ford.com/suvs/escape/, 22/31 MPG. Put that number in the 80-90 MPGe range and they would have a hit.

      I really hope BMW can start touching 2000s per month, but I am not sure they will have the inventory to hit that.

      1. David Murray says:

        Yes, but I believe the Energi cars sell to a similar type of customer that buys the PiP. I suspect they walk into a dealership looking at a Fusion, C-Max, or Prius. But then they find out about the plug-in version as a higher trim level and end up buying that instead.

        Cars like the Volt, Leaf, and i3 are sold to people who have done their homework and likely went to the dealership with intention to buy one.

        So my point is, I’m not sure how much other plug-in cars actually compete with the Energi models. I’m sure there is some cross-shopping going on, but I suspect not in most cases. This seems to be confirmed by the large online community of Leaf and Volt owners, yet a relatively small online presence for Energi owners.

        1. Josh Bryant says:

          I agree walk in customers are a much higher percentage on the Energi vehicles.

          I also think some of those customers may be more inclined to pass with current low gas prices, but we will see.

  3. Nix says:

    “…$7500 federal tax credit…In a couple years we may be talking about how the early guys might get burned by this, but for now nobody should be concerned…”

    What people should be concerned about in a couple of years is a R/R/R controlled House/Senate/Presidency. That would spell all but certain death for EV tax incentives. CAFE mandates face a similar death.

    1. Brian says:

      With the Volt 2.0 and new Leaf that will be announced this or next year I would say that 200k mark is hit in 16/EARLY 17

  4. Sam says:

    More writers these days on insideev that are overly pro GM.

    There’s no way the Volt will sell 30k this year. The problem is the car. It is too small, interior even more cramped. It’s a hybrid in an age of $2 gas. People buy a hybrid to save money on gas. Sales early this year will be abysmal. The 2016 may sell well for a few months then flail again like the current Volt. I predict 20k volts expecting a short term bump when the 2016 comes out.

    Leaf growth will slow in anticipation of 2017 model but still grow to 33-36k.

    BMW will grow some. Tesla will do well. All others are compliance vehicles and won’t sell more than 1-2k for the year.

    Outlander would do very very well but not expected to come to the U.S. until 2016, so 0 sales.

    I wonder if Chrysler will ever release their reported PHEV minivan.

    1. Brian says:

      I personally think that BMW mark is really low. BMW are already selling 1k a month BEFORE they air a spot in the superbowl and people really know about it?

      i8 is garbage btw and needs to stop being talked about as a great EV car.

  5. Lou says:

    In regards to the 2015 Volt inventory, they could easily move them quickly if GM offers enough incentives, cash on the hood, or whatever you want to say. Actually, there are penty of people that really don’t “need” the 50 AER(I’d love that AER, and am driving a 2012)and saving thousands appeals to them. The new 2016 model could be a solid impetus to reduce prices and sell.


  6. pjwood1 says:

    32k Leafs? You think they’ll grow, on lower gas prices, and no updates?

    VW’s e-Golf may do better than 2k. I’d say 4k, in part from loyal VW owners scorned by diesel costing them 40% more than regular. These are also the people most hardened to the mechanical callousness of VW America. Ones who may want a lower maintenance car, and not the company.

    I can see your numbers, for Tesla, but they would lead to heavy pressure for TSLA. This is why I think they will pump out more than 6k Model X. Given “100k annualized” capacity guidance at the end of the year, it would not surprise me if they domestically deliver >15k Model X during the last quarter. These are sold, “number making” cars. January, 2016 will be filled with “updates”.

  7. ffbj says:

    Bottom line the filament is heating up and soon it will go incandescent. People will start to notice when their neighbor or friends buy one of these cars.
    150k in the U.S.A.? I could see that, now ends the Winter of our discontent, here comes the sun:

    1. You’re in perfect pitch today ffbj. Made my day.

  8. Chris says:

    I predict Leaf sales to decline this year due to a number of contributing factors…

    – Lower gas prices
    – more competition
    – anticipation of next gen improved model
    – more used Leafs on the market
    – A very good chance that the GA tax incentives will be coming to an end by July 1st.

  9. MTN Ranger says:

    My Volt lease was returned in November. Due to my interest in the 2016 Volt and other alternatives, I choose not to get another PEV until later in 2015. So in the meantime, I have a cheap used ICE to bridge the gap.

    1. David Murray says:

      Wow, you are going to have been waiting nearly a year. I couldn’t do it. I’d buy a cheap used Leaf or something than go back to gasoline.

      1. MTN Ranger says:

        No BEV under 150-200 AER for me, which means waiting until 2017. No way would I buy a used Leaf with the battery issues either. In addition, back in Nov, used Volts were fairly expensive too. While I like driving EV, it’s not the defining point of my life.

    2. Josh Bryant says:

      I am in pretty much the same boat, had to return my leased LEAF.

      My driving needs have changed and the LEAF range can’t cut it. Just had a baby and can’t get the infant car seat in the middle position on a Volt or i3, so stuck without a plug-in right now. I hate it. My EVSE is lonely. I loathe everyday I have to drive.

      90% chance I will be getting a Volt 2.0 this fall.

      1. kdawg says:

        Can’t the leases be extended for say 6 months?

        1. MTN Ranger says:

          I asked about extending my lease with Ally and the most they would do is 1 or 2 months, with a whopping $400+ fee to do so. No thanks.

          1. Texasimev says:

            I had the same experience with Ally, would have loved to extend the lease on my iMev for another 6 months or a year. Ally said no dice and wanted a crazy amount extra for another 1 to 3 months.

      2. Arkansas Volt says:

        you could always go Ford Fusion/C-Max Energi to help out a bit.

        1. Josh Bryant says:

          I considered that briefly, but decided to wait. I was really hoping for the Outlander PHEV, but I am pretty much giving up now. Assuming the 2016 Volt will handle the car seat in the middle without issue, I will be picking that up.

  10. kdawg says:

    “Toyota (PiP 1ok)”

    Was that supposed to be 10,000 or 1 Okay!


  11. Stephen says:

    This was a reasonable assessment. My gut is telling me the Leaf will do better and the Volt worse than you think with 2015 total 130-150k.

  12. Texasimev says:

    My iMev lease ends in 10 days. I would have liked to have the option to get an Outlander but no such luck. Two years buying almost no gas (we have an Dodge Ram aka Slurp) make it hard to go back to an ICE vehicle. I wanted to see what the 2016 Volt would offer but couldn’t wait 6+ months to get one. I live in Dallas, a big market for cars. In Oct 2014 only 4 dealers had more than 1 Volt in inventory. The dealers that did have inventory had between 6 and 12, and only 1 or 2 were 2015 models. When asked none of them had plans to order more 2015 units until after the 2016 was announced. Depending on the 2016 some said they might not order any additional 2015 models. Since I wanted the tax credit for 2014, I got a 2014 and got a great price. Now after seeing the 2016, I like the 2016 and it would have been nice to have the 50 mile range. Had the timing been different I’d go for the 2016.
    But I’m happy with my 2014.

    One thing I wonder, the range of Gen 1 volt has increased from 35 to 38 and with 2015 to 40 miles. Is it possible to upgraded my 2014 battery to get the 40 miles of a 2015? Is the extra range a firmware or software function (which could be upgraded) or a physical difference in the battery build?
    When it comes time to replace the battery in Gen 1 volts will the replacement batteries have more range then the originals? If so this could be a bonus to buying a used Gen 1.

    I think with decent inventory, they could sell the 2015 models but more dealers need to stock more and I don’t think the dealers will stock up on 2015s. I also think they will do well with the 2016, esp if the price is lower than Gen 1.

    One thing I did notice, most of the Volts were loaded up with options, which drives the price up. I’d have been happy to have the base model with only option added being the heated seats. The one I got has heated seats but also several other options I didn’t care about. With limited inventory and no chance to order I didn’t have much choice. Most of the dealers were unaware they could have ordered base model with heated seats. Again lack of dealer knowledge.

    As for people who say low gas prices will stall Volt sales. In the long term I think they are wrong. Even with $2 gal gas I’m saving $.
    Saving money is saving money, it’s just a matter of how much.
    Any one who thinks gas won’t go back up is dreaming.

    1. Mikael says:

      What you really would need in the US is a gas tax at 2-5$ added to those measily $2 per gallon.
      I know that will never happen but it would solve many problems (and cause some if done to quickly and without proper benefits/tax braks of the same size for the poorest 20% or so of the population).

    2. MTN Ranger says:

      Some late model year 2014s have the 2015 battery. So you may luck out. The pack is using slightly enhanced chemistry that increased from 16.5 to 17.1 kWh.

      1. Texasimev says:

        I don’t think I got a 2015 battery, at full charge on a 75 degree day, the max range shows 38 miles. That said is there another way to unlock more of the battery capacity? Could it be done through a software change? I’d be happy to pay a reasonable charge to GM for this unless it reduced the warranty of the battery.

        I wonder, down the road, if a battery had to be replaced under warranty, will GM use a higher capacity 2015 battery in a 2012 – 2104 car?

    1. Josh Bryant says:

      That is terrible news. It looks like have over-predicted by a full 100%.

      1. Phr3d says:

        if Only I could be even slightly surprised.. Mitsu is in serious trouble, MHO.

  13. Mikael says:

    The Model S sales seems too high. A 50% increase after a year with perfectly steady levels in the US?
    And that includes a D-bomb in December.

    What’s the reasoning behind the 26k number? Are there lots and lots of owners trading in for D + autopilot sensors models (like the boom we will see in Norway in the first quarter of 2015)?

    I would consider 20-22k fairly optimistic.

    And the i3 number seems pretty low. Anything under 13k would be surprising to me.

    1. Lensman says:

      The reason Model S sales in North America didn’t surge in 2014 was because Tesla was concentrating on developing its overseas markets. Between last year’s increase in the production capacity, and the fact that they’ve now broken into most if not all major overseas markets, expect Tesla to concentrate this year on increasing domestic sales.

      EV bashers keep telling us that the U.S. market for the Model S is saturated. That’s simply not true. If it was, then the average wait time between order and delivery would be less than a month. It only takes an average of two weeks to make a Model S, so even with paperwork and delivery time, it shouldn’t be more than three weeks or so on average, if they could actually meet demand.

      We’ll know that the market for the Model S is nearing saturation when average wait times do drop to less than a month. I would expect to see Tesla starting to do paid mass market advertising about that time, or perhaps before. Paid advertising would be another sign that Tesla is approaching the ability of production to actually meet demand.

      1. Mikael says:

        With the different batches going to different places in the world it’s not certain that they do US Teslas all that often.
        So I would consider anything under 2 months waiting time a clear lack of demand.

        Maybe they will get some new sales in some new states and that awareness increases but a 50% increase seems way too much.

        1. Josh Bryant says:

          SuperCharger expansion, Dual Motor AWD, AutoPilot, and true leasing should help Tesla keep demand in sync with production.

          It will be interesting next year, as Model X should be available and the “3 year buyback guarantee” will start kicking in. I am sure there are some people holding out of that.

          1. Phr3d says:

            Excellent point, a -NICE- discount on an 85D..
            does beg the question of what effect to bottom line?

        2. Lensman says:

          Mikael said:

          “With the different batches going to different places in the world it’s not certain that they do US Teslas all that often.
          So I would consider anything under 2 months waiting time a clear lack of demand.”

          It’s pretty certain, and has been widely reported, that Tesla concentrates on production of cars for North American deliveries only in the third month of a quarter. Delivery times are shorter for domestic (North American) sales, so by concentrating on overseas deliveries in the first two months of the quarter and domestic deliveries in the third, they can maximize the total sales for each quarter.

          So to some extent you’re right, I was oversimplifying things. Wait times for domestic sales should vary during the quarter, with longer wait times in the first two months of a quarter and shorter times in the third.

          But still, in the final weeks of a quarter, we should see wait times for domestic sales going to less than a month, on average, when Tesla starts approaching the ability of production to actually meet demand.

          Note that lower average wait times -should- result in higher sales. If you are told that you’ll have to wait three months to get a car, you’re more likely to go out and buy something else. If the wait time is only, say, three weeks, then you’re more likely to wait.

          So, there should be a snowball effect of increasing domestic sales, if and when the wait time comes down. Also, we should (hopefully, finally) see the debut of the Model X in the 2nd half of 2015, so that will also boost Tesla sales quite a bit. Between those two factors, I don’t at all think that a 50% increase in domestic Tesla sales is unrealistic. In fact, if the Model X does debut by the middle of the year, then I predict domestic Tesla sales will increase by -more- than 50% over 2014.

  14. Victor says:

    I would be surprised if the BMW i3 (which includes the BMW i3 Rex) sells more than 7,000 copies this year. I wanted the i3 Rex so bad, but the more I learned about the limitations of that car the less I wanted it.

    1. Mikael says:

      It’s a range extended BEV. You seem to need and want a PHEV, so look at one of those instead.

      1. Victor says:

        The 2016 Chevy Volt is an extended range electric vehicle. I think it’s going to work well for all my local and long distant transportation needs.

  15. liberty says:

    I expect ford to pick up more, and gm to not do nearly as well. I don’t think gm really wants to sell many gen I volts, so run rate will be low until gen II comes out.

    bmw may get some of gm’s business too.

    I expect 20% growth this year, and higher next year. Its disappointing the outlander phev was pushed out into 2016.

  16. wavelet says:

    Nice article overall… The big picture prediction, 25% increase in 2015 vs. 2014, looks very reasonable to me.

    A couple of thoughts:
    — VW could be a big surprise. They’re solidly behind EVs, given the big advance investment in the the Golf & Up Up platforms to accomodate EV variants. The Golf is much better known to the public at large, and if they actually market it, no reason VW couldn’t compete well with the Leaf.

    — The “other” category is too wide and lumps together different beasts… While it might not matter much for the numbers, the Spark EV and Soul EV aren’t compliance vehicles. The Spark might be too small for the US market, it could a big seller in Europe, and Kia is probably too weak in the US to do a nationwide rollout, but they certainly intend to make the Soul EV a global car.

  17. Lensman says:

    Let’s look at the growth of (estimated) total annual PEV sales over the past few years, from InsideEVs’ own “Sales Report Card” articles:

    2010-2011: 21,692
    2012: 52,607
    2013: 97,507
    2014: 119,710

    That yields an annual percentage -increase- of:

    2012: 142%
    2013: 85%
    2014: 22.8%

    Given the sharp dropoff in annual sales growth**, it seems much too optimistic to me to suggest 2015 sales will show an increase of 25% over 2014. Furthermore, we see that sales of the Leaf and the Volt have hit the limit of demand; the Volt production lines are idled for weeks every summer, because GM can’t sell all it produces. And — I don’t know if this is true or not, but according to reports — the Leaf battery factories are running at only about 1/3 capacity.

    **Let me emphasize that the dropoff is in the -growth- of sales. I’m not suggesting that the actual sales numbers are dropping, or that they will. The -growth- in PEV sales is slowing, but that doesn’t mean the sales numbers are falling… as all too many EV bashers falsely keep telling us.

    If we look at when sales have surged for certain models — most noteably the Leaf and the Volt — it’s been when the price was slashed. So obviously there is a high correlation between sales numbers, perceived value of the car, and price. That should be no surprise whatsoever; that’s true of virtually anything you buy. If you think it’s a better value for the price, you’re more likely to buy it. The reason the Model S outsells everything in its class, and the reason it was the #3 selling PEV in 2014, despite costing twice as much (or more) as any other, is because the perceived value of that car is so much higher than the rest.

    So, we should see a significant uptick in sales when cars with higher perceived value hit the market. The new Volt with Voltec 2.0 should see stronger sales. When will the Volt 2.0 debut? Reportedly this year, which I suppose means September 2015. Nissan promises to give us a new Leaf battery with about double the range “in a few years”… so don’t expect that in 2015.

    And if any EV maker actually does deliver a (probably over-promised) “200 mile EV”, or even any PEV with a real-world EV range significantly over 100 miles, then again we should see a surge in sales. Again, that ain’t gonna happen in 2015.

    I foresee 2015 as a slack year (hopefully the last) in PEV sales, as many potential buyers wait for a better EV to come along. The economy is surging, so that will help, but still I’ll be surprised if sales increase by more than 15% over 2014. I can understand why the InsideEVs editors would rather envision a more optimistic scenario, but I think mine is more realistic.

    Hopefully 2016 will see some new models with higher perceived value; hopefully 2016 will see a reverse in the trend of flattening PEV sales. If not 2016, then definitely 2017, when several EV makers plan to start selling what they describe as “200 mile” EVs.

    Apologies for throwing cold water on hopes.

    1. Josh Bryant says:

      I think the big difference between this year and last is the number of leases coming to an end and the satisfaction ratings of plug-ins in general.

      I feel like there are at least 30k sales “in the bag” from people that will be rolling over their leases. GM is in the best position to take advantage of that since they are first to market with a real 2.0 version.

      The other factor is just the total number of plug-ins offered. There are many loyal car buyers out there, so until every company offers a plug-in, not all consumers will be aware. For example, if Toyota offered a plug-in Camry (with identical specs to the Fusion Energi) and offer it at every dealer, it would probably sell 50k – 75k the first year. The availability of plug-ins is still extremely low.

      1. Lensman says:

        Thanks for your reply, Josh.

        But the very noticeable dropoff in -growth- of annual sales is happening despite a larger number of models being available every year. So unfortunately for your hopes for higher sales, that’s already factored in.

        Also, sadly, most of those new models are just California compliance cars, so don’t have much impact on overall total sales much.

        1. Josh says:

          The is why predictions are so difficult, and entertaining.

          I am basically seeing 30k in extra sales this year: Volt, Model S/X and i3 being pretty much all of that. Everything else breaking even for the year.

          1. Phr3d says:

            Too late to the party, but hasn’t GM released a ‘next year’ model year Early -several- times throughout its history? Has there been any debate about a May delivery of Volt 2.0?

  18. Karl says:

    Some 2012 leases already came due. That’s how I got my LEAF under $20K. Now they’re under $17K, so getting ever more affordable. The tipping point is coming…

    1. Josh Bryant says:

      I am interested to see how Nissan holds onto those LEAF lease customers and gets them to renew. Volt 2.0 might put some pressure on them the second half of the year.

  19. Just_chris says:

    I’d love to know what’s going to happen this year but everything is just way too volatile at the moment, we are at the point were Toyota, nissan, BMW, tesla, ford or GM could open the taps. You could argue til the cows come home about who will and who won’t but any of those guys could make an extra 10k sales on the numbers above by production increases or price cuts. My feeling is that either GM or nissan could knock quite a bit off the price while increasing production to meet demand.

    I have a question for the legally minded folk in the room if everyone run’s out and buy’s a gas guzzler to take advantage of low gas prices causing the major manufacturers average mpg to go up will they start discounting ev’s to bring the average mpg back down to meet the cafe requirement? That would be a rather strange but welcome side effect of the latest battle between oil producers, I suspect it won’t work like that but it would be great if it did.

    1. Lensman says:

      That’s not so much a question of legality, but of politics. The Federal tax rebate for EVs is controlled by Congress. With both chambers firmly in the hands of the Republicans, the chances that they will increase the rebate are slim and none. I would not be at all surprised if it’s reduced, regardless of what happens with sales of SUVs and other highly wasteful gas guzzlers.

  20. Remember Tesla reports a world wide number and here we are reporting USA sales. Two very different numbers.

    As to the PIP, we were statified Prius onwers that watned to upgrade and could not get a plug-in Prius so we like MANY others have gotten a Volt. I have been told former Prius owners are the billgest share of Volt owners.

    1. Josh says:

      Thanks for that data point.

      I really think Volt 2.0 is where GM is going to try to take on Prius toe-to-toe.

      I believe Prius is also the #1 traded in vehicle on Model S also. But this is probably because BMW, Merc, Audi have their customers spread across so many different models.

  21. Phr3d says:

    Think your numbers for the X5 are low, Josh, but this presumes that they actually get the thing released.

    1) They Will because of sales loss to Porche, a Big ‘unacceptable’
    2) Same lease issue, this time with gas-hog pure ICE X5 owners returning at quite respectable numbers to get another one, this time a PHEV, not the least reason, because its new and conversational, and (can) go as quickly as the hot rod version whilst saving Gobs of fuel if religiously plugged in.

    NOT a fan of CO2-mobiles, but as has been stated so many times here, save a buncha’ $100k-car gallons is a good step in the right direction.