April EV Sales In US Rise For 19th Consecutive Month

MAY 3 2017 BY JAY COLE 62

2017 World Green Car winner Toyota Prius Prime was also the Best Selling plug-in for the US in April

It was during our September 2015 plug-in sales report we said the following:

“Going forward (and as we have been saying since last winter), the extended EV sales drought in the United States should now be behind us.  We look for monthly sales to show strong gains beginning in October (2015), and continuing (for the most part) into the foreseeable future.”

Now, more than a year and a half later, we find ourselves reporting on April 2017’s plug-in sales results, noting 19 consecutive months* of gains since 2015.  Quite a run indeed.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid arrived on the US market on Earth Day (April 22nd), and in some sizable volumes too, moving an estimated 205 copies in the last week of the month.

Looking at last month’s result, it wasn’t a flawless win for all electrified models in the US, as the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV both under-performed expectations, but the majority of plug-ins did best their own results from a year ago; and it is that kind of deeper model depth that is the driving force behind the EV surge in America today.

Overall, an estimated 13,151 plug-ins were sold, a 25% gain over 2016.

For the year,  ~54,693 plug-ins have been delivered in America, which is a 43% improvement from the ~38,372 moved in a year ago.

During the month we saw a record 4 different plug-ins make their retail debuts:

  • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
  • BMW 530e
  • Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Of the group, only the 33 mile, Pacifica Hybrid is expected to sell in larger quantities, but the BMW and Cadillac will be adding more diversity to the plug-in choices, while the Ioniq Electric is technically the most efficient EV ever (if you go by MPGe @ 136 MPGe).

The surprise hit for April 2017, and really for most of the year, continues to be the Toyota Prius Prime – selling 1,819 copies during the month (from less than 1,000 units of average in stock inventory).

The Prime’s sales for the month landed it as the #1 selling plug-in for the month, as it just crested the 1,807 Chevrolet Volt’s sold.  However, don’t feel bad for the Chevy, as it managed to slip past the Tesla Model S in April to become the best selling plug-in offering for the year (as Tesla deliveries during the first month of every quarter are notoriously light).

Also to note:  April was a weak month for general/overall automotive sales, with deliveries off about ~5% during the month.  The car segment was especially weak, showing a drop of 11% (18% for the domestic automakers).

The BMW 740e sales took hold in April

Also making moves of interest was the BMW 740e (details).  Although it is a premium product, not expected to sell in high quantities, the pricing on the plug-in version of the premium sedan is actually cheaper (post fed credit) than the traditional petrol model.  With that in mind, we had expected to see it eat away at some of BMW’s core 7-Series business…and with 123 sales in April (vs 870 ICE sales), that seems to now be happening.

Some further stats can be found below the monthly sales chart below (Also, our all-time, month-by-month, historical data for previous years can be found here)

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** FCA/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from April 2017

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. General Motors – 3,113
  2. Tesla Motors* – 1,840
  3. Toyota – 1,819
  4. Ford – 1,774
  5. BMW – 1,213
  6. Nissan – 1,063
  7. VW Group – 793
  8. FCA* – 646

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In April*

  1. PHEV – 7,589 -57.8.7%
  2. BEV – 5562 42.2%

(*) estimated

New Year Highs Set In April By Model (previous 2017 high in brackets)

  • Toyota Prius Prime – 1,819 (1,618)
  • Chevrolet Bolt EV – 1,292 (1,162)
  • Ford C-Max Energi749 (662)
  • Chrysler Pacifica Hybid* – 205 (12)
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid – 185 (177)
  • Volvo XC90 T8 – 145 (103)
  • BMW 740e – 123 (42)
  • Kia Optima PHV – 86 (70)
  • Mercedes S 550 e – 81 (60)
  • Mercedes B 250 e – 66 (56)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric – 19 (NM)
  • Cadillac ELR – 7 (3)
  • Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid -6 (NM)

The full monthly recap by individual plug-in (all-time) can be found on our Monthly Scorecard here.

*On year of monthly sales improvements: We know someone is going to look at the chart and say, “hey, only ~11,467 sales were made in May of 2016, when 11,540 were logged in 2015!  What gives InsideEVs?”  What gives is – through an odd scheduling quirk, only 24 selling days were reported in May 2016 (versus 26 in 2015)

Categories: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

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62 Comments on "April EV Sales In US Rise For 19th Consecutive Month"

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It’s disappointing that the Ford Focus EV is back to 100-and-something sales. I was hoping with the new model that it would be more competitive and actually start selling several hundred per month.. maybe there is no stock on the new model?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s due to lack of enthusiasm from Ford Dealers. Ford dealers should be glad that I’m not in charge of Ford as I would do this to them!


It seems like the Fusion and CMax offerings both sold decently well, so maybe it’s just the size of the Focus that turned people off to it.

I am kinda disappointed that Bolt sales weren’t better. Lots of good reviews and awards don’t seem to be enough to move the sales needle and I don’t see the Model 3 roll-out helping at all. I think the 3 would need to be a major disappointment in order for Bolt sales to take off at this point.

I can’t understand the month to month variation from Tesla. The difference is ~3X from month 1 to 3 in several quarters looking back. I could see +/- 10-25%, but 300%? I understand the temporary stops for upgrades, the fact that this is only US sales, etc… Just seems like an odd way to operate a mfg. business. Example: What hours do the assembly workers put in, 20-60/week depending on which month in the quarter?
Please educate me.

Some months they concentrate on exports and some months they concentrate on domestic shipments.

It’s pretty stupid. Ramping up for end of quarter and end of year for sales is railed against in modern business schools. It’s the stuff of the 1950s and sketchy used car dealers. HOWEVER I think most of it is actually allocation. I think they do a ‘hmm…this month we send a ship load to Norway. OK next month 2 ship loads to China’. Now ok March it’s the US’s turn. That’s at least some of it. Who knows, maybe there’s a volume discount in shipping so shipping 50 a month to country x isn’t as cheap as just shipping them once a quarter or something.

Shipping to China, is actually by Ship! Shipping to Los Vegas, is by Truck!

Which do you think is shorter delivery time between coming off the line, and getting to a delivery center and to the customer?

Toyota only sold Tesla 1 mfg plant in California, not one in each continent or region!

Once they can have a Full on Gigafactory in Europe, and another in Asia (China, or any other neighbor), shipping times will likely be closer to equal, region to region, and deliveries will likely be more smooth, and they might even shift to a full ‘Month by Month’ reporting of sold and delivered vehicles, as well as Monthly Production numbers!

Until that time, this is how it goes!

It even makes sense to batch manufacture by location in the US too, for shipping reasons.

Since cars aren’t shipped one at a time, they still need to fill up truck transports to go in different directions. If they have one completely full transport truck going to Miami, it is going to be cheaper for them than having a truck that has to stop in Vegas, then Denver, then New Orleans, then Atlanta, before arriving with just a few cars to Miami.

This is actually one of the reasons why Tesla believes they can cut costs for the Model 3. Larger volumes of deliveries will cut costs out of how much it costs them to get cars to owners.

Tom said: “Who knows, maybe there’s a volume discount in shipping so shipping 50 a month to country x isn’t as cheap as just shipping them once a quarter or something.” That’s not it. It’s that Tesla tries hard to maximize the number of deliveries in every individual quarter. This means scheduling production so that cars which will take the longest to reach the customer, in other words customers in China and Australia and other countries on the other side of the world, will be produced as much as possible early in the quarter, with domestic (U.S.) deliveries scheduled for late in the quarter… which is why, generally, Tesla’s U.S. sales are so much greater in March, June, September, and December than other months. That means Tesla isn’t really running its factory at 3x the number of hours in the last month of a quarter as the first month; it’s just that most of the production doesn’t show up in U.S. sales except in the 3rd month of a quarter. But I completely agree on the subject of this sort of extreme batch processing, which surely must cause production to proceed in fits and starts. Surely Tesla would do better… Read more »

Tom, It is not as stupid as it initially sounds. They have to change the production line (slightly) for some countries’ version of the car (think RHD for the UK), so it makes sense to “batch” those cars for cheaper production costs and ship them all together to reduce shipping costs. Since you have to do that anyway, you might as well plan the delivery so that you get the sales in the same quarter in which they were produced. Thus Tesla produces international cars early in the quarter to be able to ship and complete the sale before the end of the quarter. The US deliveries take much shorter time so they can be produced later in the quarter.

They seem to have variable supply. Their supply chain isn’t super robust. They seemed to stop producing Xes for weeks in February for example.

They do also send more overseas some months.

Thanks guys. The shipments diverted out of US is likely much more than I would have expected.

For four months the score card says “IONIC Electic” and nobody has pointed it out yet.


Jay, see above once you’re able to take a breather from all the sales updates. 😉

Overall not bad. Certainly we all want the Bolt EV to be selling better. I expected a minimum of 27k Bolts for the US this year… still possible but harder to pull off now.

Still, Chevy’s overall vehicle sales were down over 10% this month. So it is nevertheless positive for Chevrolet to be atop of the EV and PHEV sales charts. Their plug-in performance doesn’t seem to be effected by the current industry downturn.

I’m also happy to see Prius buyers convert to Prius Prime instead of the standard Prius models. It makes a lot more sense (And comparatively looks much better than the standard model.)

I can’t wait to see how Model 3 effects these numbers. I expect its release will boost sales of all quality competitors over the next few years.

It looks like the whole Prius family continues to decline rapidly though, since the advent of the modern EV, in 2012.

Prius Family Sales
April 2012 = 25,168
April 2013 = 19,889
April 2014 = 18,011
April 2015 = 15,235
April 2016 = 11,925
April 2017 = 9,708

Jean-François Morissette

You should now add the RAV4 Hybrid sales to that total, as there is also a shift toward CUV/SUV and that is taking some of the Prius sales also.

Note the Prius Family does include the Prius V.

Jean-François Morissette

I know, but still, I think over time people are adopting more and more EV on one side, but SUV on the other side.

I think there is a big demand for plugin SUVs and CUVs. Look at the Outlander PHEV.

Many would love to see a plugin Chevy Equinox.

Per “Many would love to see a plugin Chevy Equinox.”, except GM, since they are sayong if it has a plug, they can’t make money with it!

However, taking the Engineering Investments for the Voltec Drivetrain, and for the Bolt EV, it would seem they should be able to shave quite a few Million $ off developing an Equinox EREV!

It could have 40-45 kWh Battery from the Bolt EV, and the Voltec Drivetrain in the Front, and with some tweaking, the Bolt EV Drivetrain in the Rear, for a Solid 4×4 EV/EREV, With great performance, practicle Towing Potential, 120-140+ Miles EV Range, and should be able to fit 10 Gallons of Gas, for another 350+ miles on gas!

Anyone interested in a vehicle like that?

I bet, if the price was right, it could make Mitsubishi improve their offering!

3,516 purchases of RAV4 hybrid in April

For sure. Prius has a sizable portion of those who appreciated the Prius for being a great “green” vehicle or being a “technical marvel” vehicle… or just being unique.

What remains are customers interested in the lower cost to own and the reliability of Toyota vehicles.

Or those that had significant brand loyalty and the usual emotional attachment we all feel towards a car that has treated us well.

But gas prices are low at the moment so why switch to a Prius now?

And there is less reason to upgrade from an older Prius to a newer one when the MPG is only slightly better. Especially if your current Prius is already reliable and running well.

For current Prius owners, I think the Prime presents a real reason to upgrade.

*Prius has ***lost*** a sizable portion…

A very key word that I know for a fact I typed!

Either the reply box ate the word “lost” or I inadvertently deleted it. lol

Maybe it is time for a Prius V, with a Plug!

Drop a Flat Pack 27 kWh Battery under it, give it 50-70 Miles EV Range, 1,500 Lbs Towing, and a 10 kW AC Charger, with optional DC Fast Charge!

Make it capable of full EV Acceleration, unless a Mixed Mode is selected, and give a 0-60 EV time of 7.5-8.0 seconds Max! Do it soon, or the shot will be lost!

That could draw some loosing sales back to the Prius line, give a place for tall people to choose a car, when the Volt is too small, but don’t want a Chysler Pacifica Hybrid!

Keep the price at the $34,000-$38,000 level, and scoop up some good sales numbers. Offer it at $29,995, and ‘Kill it’ in the plug in market!

Yes, or No? What say you?

Call it the Prius Ve? 🙂

I think it would be a great entry into the space and might help re-invigorate the line. It is a good size vehicle for most people. Even a 30 or 40 mile EV range would be great. Also, maybe the Prius C should be reborn as a BEV?

But I highly doubt they would do this. The Rav 4 hybrid has kinda stolen the thunder from the V… I don’t think they’ve even discussed a next generation Prius C or Prius V.

The drop in Prius sales sucks. They are still better than the huge number of straight ICE cars that are out there.

Well at least it was an improvement over last year. May looks weak too although somewhat better. I hope GM get their act together and start selling some Bolts this month!

While these numbers are very interesting and I refresh my browser a few dozen times these days, there is one very annoying thing wrong.
Or more precise two things.

The first is that most numbers are sales from dealers’ lots. Meaning it reflects the buying decisions made this month about those cars.
The Tesla numbers are deliveries, they have nothing to do with the number of times a customer has decided to buy a Tesla this month.

The other thing is the pressure on Tesla to have most of its quarterly production delivered in the same quarter.
Making the first month production going to its furthest markets and its third month production mainly to domestic deliveries.
Skewing the monthly totals in a really big way.
It looks like the April sales are 27% below the march sales, but without the Tesla distortion, they are only 5% lower.

For most of the USA car market the real sales, of the dealers’ lots, are the important figures.
For Tesla the numbers of orders received and order portfolio are the important ones.

But as long as most journalists and analysts don’t get that distinction, Tesla can’t publicize those numbers.

Tesla, with one plant for the world wide sales reach they have, is unlike almost ALL other OEM’s!

When they have GF3 and GF4 operating, with at least 1 in Europe, & 1 in Asia, this will start to smooth out!

As Elon recently mentioned 4 more GF to happen, I suspect big progress on that front will happen, some initated this year, with a big move on that happening in 2018! By 2020, Tesla will be a whole new challenge for the current OEM’s!

Yes, you have a point. But if only quarterly Tesla numbers would be reported, we would still see the same up and down in total numbers. If Tesla numbers were only reported quarterly, there would still be people pretending that there was a problem with EV sales. People who hate EV’s would still go to desperately seekingalpha to get their fix on stories with titles like “HUGE DROP IN EV SALES” and “EV SALES STILL DOWN FOR SECOND STRAIGHT MONTH”. As for this: “The Tesla numbers are deliveries, they have nothing to do with the number of times a customer has decided to buy a Tesla this month.” That is somewhat true, but technically not good enough for Tesla to report official numbers. The problem is that you can change your mind on whether you want to take delivery on a specific car right down until when they deliver it to you. If you look over the car and change your mind, you can say no to taking delivery right down the the last second. You can then move your deposit to another car, or buy something else in inventory, and Tesla can’t count that car as sold.

The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was available for about 10 days in April and sold 205 copies. Looking forward to seeing how it fares in its first full month of sales..

Yep, it’s one of the most interesting stories for the next few months. How many will Chrysler produce?

They priced it aggressively enough that they could potentially sell a whole lot of them.

Haha, I work for GM and even I have to admit that I find the Chrysler compelling. If you consider that you could get a nicely equipped Pacifica for about the price of a Bolt Premier, you’ve got to give some credit to Chrysler. If it wasn’t for their continuing poor build quality, I would certainly consider the Pacifica for my wife and as a car for family road trips…though I still need one car in our fleet with AWD and so far nobody has ticked the AWD with a plug box. That’s really what I’m waiting for.

Ok, looked and looked and finally found it… Toyota doesn’t seem to broadcast its Prius data widely, b/c the brand continues to drop.

***However, the Prime is saving the day.

All Prii sold in the US in April: 9708. The 1819 Primes are 19% of that – way better than even Japan (where it was about 1/8 in March).
YTD all Prii: 36342. Primes: 6165, or >1/6 (17%). So we’re trending up month to month…

All non-PHEV Prii combined are down >30% YTD from 2016…

Now they just got to switch more and more of their Prius output to Prime – *and* add a 5th seat ASAP – if they want the brand to survive.

But then again, since when has Toyota made the right long-term calls on EVs? Hopefully they’ll make their first such call soon.

The Prius brand has a few issues currently. One is the low gas prices. Another is that 4th generation model is considered by most to be the least attractive Prius ever made, something the Prime doesn’t share with it. I doubt the EV revolution is having much effect on overall Prius sales.

Yeah, cheap gas fueling the trend toward pickups and SUVs is the biggest issue depressing Prius sales.

And I suppose you are right about the aesthetics … I sure hear a lot of complaining about the Prius’ looks, but I actually like it myself. Sleek, edgy, and futuristic. 😀

Plus your average sedan can now easily get in the high 30s combined mpg. (Cruze, Corolla, etc)

Heck even many small SUVs/Crossovers are in the high 20 or low 30 mpg.

Uh, they break them down every month in their sales chart.

Here’s April’s:

From there:
Toyota Prius Sedan 5,802 8,923 ‐32.5 21,571 30,555 ‐28.7
Toyota Prius V(only) 926 1,322 ‐27.3 3,545 4,970 ‐28
Toyota Prius C(only) 1,161 1,676 ‐28.1 5,061 8,309 ‐38.5
Toyota Prius PRIME(only) 1,819 4 47124 6,165 27 22959
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 3,516 3,807 ‐4.1 12,991 11,342 15.7

Prime is selling to Prius owners. Doesn’t look like others are buying.

Drawing a conclusion on anecdotal evidence and very limited availability is weak, at best.

Thanks for the link and info. Here’s another source for sales of hybrids: http://www.hybridcars.com/april-2017-dashboard/

That shows that adding in hybrid versions of the Camry, Highlander, Avalon and various Lexus hybrids boosts the total number sold by Toyota in April by about 5,000 units.

In addition to the low-cost gasoline and trend towards trucks and SUVs that has hurt Prius sales, they are also being hurt by the widespread availability of serious competition from other “green” cars. Used to be that the Prius was practically the only game in town, now you’ve got Teslas, Volts, Bolts, etc … available both new and on the used market.

There were about 11,000 plug-in cars other than the Prime sold this April. Quite a lot of those might have considered a Prius back in 2010.

And then you have competent non-plug-in hybrids much more widely available as well.

The little Kia Niro is making a very impressive debut with second month sales at 2,939 and coming in #5 overall in hybrids. Looks likely to unseat RAV4 as the #3 in hybrid sales in next few months.

It definitely helps that Kia is actually advertising it aggressively, using some pretty funny ads starring Melissa McCarthy:

If any other car company is running TV ads for their EV’s/PHEV’s, they must not be as good of ads, because they aren’t sticking in my head like these.

hmmm, trend in YoY increases:

Jan: 77%
Feb: 55%
Mar: 31%
Apr: 25%

Not the direction we want to see…

However, winter is normally a low sales period, but there have been two significant new models in the Bolt and Prime which could have pulled in some extra interest.

So, the 25-31% could be the norm.

I think that the Bolt and Prime both have yet to get close to the sales they’ll see by the end of the year when there is deep inventory available across the country.

Add in the Gen 2 Leaf in September and the Model 3 this fall and I think we’ll see sales growth quite a bit higher than 25-31%. In the 4th quarter I wouldn’t be surprised to see 100% growth year over year if Tesla is anywhere close to their goals on the Model 3.


Total U.S. light car sales in the first 4 months were 5’426’788. The above 54’387 YTD EV sales are exactly 1%. By the way, diesel cars only had a YTD market share of 0.53%.(source: http://www.hybridcars.com/april-2017-dashboard/ )


Jan-Apr 2016 EV market share was 0.7%

I2016 Data:

Only 40% of vehicle sales were automobiles, the other 60% are light trucks (which include SUVs).

Removing the Model X (debatably an SUV) (158,614-18,223=140,491) out of 17.55Million *40% = 7,020,000

There fore plugins represented 2% of automobile sales last year.

In 2017, we are seeing significant growth in plugins and dropping overall sales for automobiles. It would appear that the plug-in rate could be in the 4% range by the end of the year.

So, if you are going to make cars, you better be ready!

I don’t want to jinx anything but I think that was the last month where we could conceivably see sub 10,000 NA ev sales. I can’t imagine any month from here below 10,000.

That feels pretty good, perhaps even better than the first 20,000+ month. I still remember getting excited about the chance of getting over 10,000 sales.

It should be “drought”. “Draught” is merely an alternate British spelling of “draft”, and pronounced that way. I think I’ve only seen it in use in the meaning of “draught beer”, but according to various online dictionaries, it can also be used for other meanings of “draft”, such as in “a draught of cold air”. But really, I think it’s an archaic term. “Draft” is both simpler and phonetic, and IMHO should be the preferred spelling for modern writers.

— Grammar Nazi Pushy 😉

Hmmm, apparently the post I was replying to got deleted by the moderator before I posted this. Your reality is being edited! 😉