April 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card (Update)
Coming off a hot March when more than 10,000 EVs where sold, besting a year ago’s result by about 7%, the big question now is, “can April continue the trend?”
Fortunately the bar was set a bit lower, as March of 2014 logged just around 8,900 EV sales.
For April, an estimated 9,094 plug-ins were sold – good for a small gain.
Help sales grow this month was America’s 2nd best seller – the Chevrolet Volt, with some help from the Tesla Model S, VW e-Golf, the resurgent Fiat 500e…and wait for it, the Ford C-Max Energi.
Yes, the C-Max Energi came out of no where and set a personal best record of 1,237 cars sold, a 74% gain over any previous sales mark this year.
UPDATE: Apparently the C-Max Energi stayed in “no where” for April, as Ford re-issued sales for the plug-in, saying: “Please note: This file properly bins April sales of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi. These two vehicle were transposed in the last report.” Instead of 1,237 C-Max Energis sold, the actual number was 553.
This month’s other dark horse was the Chevrolet Spark EV. Help by an extraordinary deep inventory to start the month, a lower MSRP and a great new lease offer, which translated to over 900 sales! An all-time best by more than 500%.
The “big dog of the month” award goes to the BMW, which sold just 406 copies after eight months right around 1,000 units sold.
Heading in April the stories of interest are (with answers as they come in):
- Nissan has yet to reach the 2,000 sales plateau in 2015, something they did in 10 consecutive months in 2014. Can the company return to old highs? (Nope)
- Production of the current gen Chevrolet Volt is winding up, and General Motors introduced its most aggressive sales campaign of the year. Can the ‘old’ Volt return to four figure sales levels? (Almost)
- Only the BMW i3 and Fiat 500e have been able to crest the 1,000 unit sold mark so far in 2015 outside of the big names. Can either return to that level? How about the Ford Fusion Energi, who last month surged unexpectedly up to 837 moved? (None of the above)
- Can Tesla put together enough sales to hold off a charging Nissan LEAF in a month not typically associated with strong North American deliveries – first month of basically any quarter? (for sure)
(last updated: 2:11 pm, May 4th, 2015)
Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.
Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is both the 2015 YTD chart as well as the complete 2014 results.
Chevrolet Volt: “Incentives pay off” is what GM’s entire lineup learned this month.
The Volt was no exception as sales increased by more than 40% from last month with 905 sold. (full story)
During April, General Motors began to once again heavily discount the current generation Volt to take focus away from the high anticipated Fall release of version 2.0.
Chevrolet dropped the Volt’s lease price to $249/month (with nothing down) and also offered buying rebates up to $2,500.
Production will cease on the current generation of Volt mid-month (as planned) despite some pretty abysmal stories that it was done as a response to poor demand factors.
But before than happens GM is pushed 2015 MY inventories to near record highs (~4,500 2015 MY units) to make up the shortfall on stock before the 2016s arrive in volume around September…and of course to maximize profits off an aging – but paid-for, assembly line.
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: Not participating in the strong sales category for April was the LEAF, as Nissan managed just 1,553 cars sold, which is off about 15% from last month, and more than 25% off last year’s mark of 2,088. (full story here)
Somewhat slower sales in the first 4 months of the year has meant that LEAF inventory is currently overbuilt somewhat for the first time in…pretty much forever, as more than 6,000 cars are now available nationwide.
Previously during March, Nissan came close to returning to the 2,000 unit sold mark, but fell just short with 1,817 sold – a 50%+ improvement over February however. (full LEAF recap for the month can be found here)
Overall Nissan has failed to hit year ago levels each month this year. In total, 5,639 cars have been sold in 2015 versus 7,172, now off an adjusted 22%.
Previously in March, the LEAF overtook the Chevrolet Volt for the all-time lead for plug-in sales in America. That tally at the end of this month now stands 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.
“We celebrated two major milestones in March: We reached 75,000 Nissan LEAF sales in the U.S., and now we are America’s top selling plug-in vehicle,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure.
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.
Cadillac ELR: For April, 104 ELRs were moved, good for a 70% improvement from 2014, when 61 were sold.
During April we 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).
Additionally, 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.
Previously in March, 92 were sold, besting last years result by about 14%. February is still the mark to beat for 2015 however, as 127 were sold – up 119% from February 2014 when just 58 were moved.
BMW i3: “Dog of the Month” award for April clearly goes to the BMW i3, as just 406 copies were sold; especially after selling 1,000ish for the last 8 months in a row.
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.
Looking at the inventory situation, strong selling results in the first three months of the year has meant that national inventory has fallen under the 2,000 unit mark – which had been considered low in relation to the brands history of selling around 1,000 i3s per month.
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.
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.
April started out much the same as any ‘first month of the quarter’, with US numbers filled the month prior Tesla appeared to turn once again to focus mainly on Euro production early in the month – as those cars need to be built now to be recorded within the current quarter.
Then something rather odd happened. Production seem to balance out. It was as though whatever the model (ex-the new 70D and all those sad folks waiting on RHD cars), wherever the location, Tesla was building them all straight away…like a company unconcerned about what car was going where and when.
Which brings us to the question of why? Is the company maturing? Micro-managing less? Maybe.
Our money is on Tesla just working through all of its order book, knowing it has to fulfil production on the new Model S 70D orders (around the second week of May), before turning its world upside-down shortly thereafter to actually build the fabled beast know as the Model X.
For April, deliveries were fairly balanced to the US throughout the month as far as we could tell, with the first distribution wave of the 85D making up the bulk of the volume.
For the month, we estimate Tesla delivered 1,700 Model S sedans in North America.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: “Destroyed” is the only word appropriate to what the Spark EV did to its old sales record.
For April, 920 of the little electric Chevy were sold.
For reference, the ‘old” record month was back in May of 2014 with just 192 sold.
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)
Earlier in the year, a surge of new inventory help translated sales into the little electric Chevy’s 2nd best result to date in March, when 151 were sold.
As a sidenote to sales: A virtual ton of Spark EVs hit the port in January, as the electric Chevy’s inventory exploded in January to north of 800 vehicles – level which touched more than a 1,000 in February. Robust sales in April have now reduced that number to about 500 units heading into May.
2016 production starts in August in South Korea, but new inventory to help out sales won’t likely arrive until early October, so look for Spark EV sales to drive up by July.
GM sold 1,144 in total for the 2014 against 539 in 2013.
Ford Fusion Energi: For April, the Fusion Energi turned in another decent month, selling 711 cars.
Previously, the plug-in Ford had its best month since last summer in March, selling 837 copies.
Thankfully, the main issue that had been holding back Fusion Energi sales (no not demand) – national inventories has improved considerably.
Heading into May just over 3,000 are in stock – 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.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: No cars = no sales. For April just 428 were sold – off 75% from a year ago’s 1,741 moved.
For March, 473 Prius PHVs were sold, off 66% – not surprising considering the company has not really stocked the popular plug-in at all this year waiting on the next generation car.
Again, we do 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 have held steady at an unacceptably low level for anyone honestly trying to sell this car – heading into May, about 1,100 are available to be purchased.
Sadly, the current generation of Prius PHV ends in June. We say sadly because, although a next generation is confirmed, delays in the Prius have pushed its introduction as fall 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.
Ford C-Max Energi: How the heck did Ford sell so many C-max plug-ins?
For April, 1,237 were sold! Those 1,237 C-Max represent not only an all-time high for the model, but a 73% improvement over last month.
UPDATE: The question of how Ford sold so many C-Max Energis has been solved – they didn’t, as Ford re-issued sales for the plug-in, saying: “Please note: This file properly bins April sales of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi. These two vehicle were transposed in the last report.” Instead of 1,237 C-Max Energis sold, the actual number was 553.
Like its sister car in the Fusion Energi, the plug-in C-Max also had a previously strong month in March selling 715 units in March.
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.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED: April ‘should be’ the last month for B-Class ED sales to plod along as the new (volume produced) 2015 cars have finally started to arrive in the US.
For April, 158 B-Class EDs were sold. Slightly better than the 145 moved a month ago.
The year high was previously set in January at 240 EVs moved.
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 is 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).
The greater depth and order-ability will now shortly let us know what the true demand is for the all-electric Mercedes.
Introduced in the second half of 2014, 774 B-Class EDs were been sold. It is hard to rate and/or gauge the demand of the car because that is pretty much all the cars Daimler has shipped out to the US so far.
For the US, the B-Class willbe available only in limited states for 2014 and the first few of months of 2015 (CA, CT, MD, OR, NJ, NY, RI and VT). Later, it will head out nationwide to the unwashed masses.
BMW i8: Unlike with its cousin BMW i3 in April, the i8 continued to sell well in the US with 138 copies sold.
Previously 143 were moved in March. 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.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The dealer lot battle between the plug-in Panamera and Cayenne continued in April, with the Panamera ending up on the short end of the stick – just 30 were sold.
Previously for March, 44 Panamera S E-Hybrids were sold, which comes after a rebound month of sorts in January when 61 were sold.
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: Despite some still thin inventories, the plug-in Cayenne sold 88 copies in March – a new high for the model.
As more inventory of the Cayenne plug-in arrives, we expect more sales to be realized by Porsche.
Previously in March, 72 were sold.
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, rarely has national inventory gone over 50 units – about a third of Panamera S E-Hybrid stock.
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 another 717 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: Slightly more inventory meant the e-Golf hit new highs in the US with 309 sold in April.
The previous best selling month was March with 193 copies sold, so the trend is definitely heading in the right direction.
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 it across the country, 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 May, about 600 copies were 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.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 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 – which is actually double the amount from March.
As a result of this deep inventory (not so much), 16 i-MiEVs were sold in April.
For the year, Mitsubishi has now sold 31 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.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: For April, smart continued a fairly consistent year with 123 electric ForTwos sold.
A respectable 103 copies were also sold in March. Not bad considering the brands dependency on the Cabrio model
However in February, Smart hit its first speed bump in sales in what seems like forever, as just 76 were sold, the worst result since July of 2013.
The all-time record was set this past December, 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 alarm, as Ford once again sold “100 and something” Focus Electrics in April
More specifically, 124 were sold. That makes 24 of the past 27 months in the zone.
In March 140 Focus Electrics were moved.
Previously, in February 145 were sold…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.
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 April as 73 were sold, up from the 63 sold in March. However, considering the strong packaging of the Soul EV, we expect more out of the car.
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.
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?
Previously in March, a not-inspiring 5 copies were sold, off 71% from a year ago when 18 were moved.
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
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 April, 28 more of Porsche’s supercar were built and delivered in America. 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: