August 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
If you have been a follower of plug-in vehicle sales in the United States this year, then you knew this month was coming – the bottom of the barrel as it were. Compared to a year ago, August 2015 is EV sales-armageddon!
Put another way, with only the last inventory scraps of the first generation Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius PHV, and now obsolete Nissan LEAF left on lots to compete against a strong August of 2014 – it was a total comparative bloodbath.
For August, an estimatde 8,972 plug-ins where sold, a slight gain over July, but significantly off 25% from the ~12,172 moved a year ago.
Fortunately, everyone reading this sales recap wins this month.
- If you are pessimistic by nature, or just aren’t particularly keen on the outlook for plug-in technology – then August was your month. Enjoy it!
- If you are an EV advocate, or just excited for the future prospects of the tech – well, you are in luck as the ‘future’ starts right now.
The next six weeks marks the arrival of:
* – 2nd generation of Chevrolet Volt
* – 2016 Nissan LEAF goes on sale – with boosted range (~105-110 miles)
* – the first full month of Tesla “90 kWh” Model S deliveries
* – new, slightly improved Cadillac ELR
* – Tesla Model X– the first long range, all-electric utility vehicle – that has 240 miles of range and a 0-60 time has low as 3.2 seconds (Signature specs/details can be found here)
* – one of Europe’s best selling PHEVs – the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, priced aggressively from $37,900
* – Volvo XC 90 – PHEV SUV, and much over-subscribed as well in Europe
* – much cheaper base versions of both the Kia Soul (e-trim from $31k) and Volkswagen e-Golf (SE trim from $29k) arrive
In a nutshell: The entire first generation EV landscape has been systematically dismantled ever since the 2016 Chevrolet Volt concept first debuted in Detroit on January 12th, 2015. Thankfully, those 8 months of pain are now behind us, and the last quarter of 2015 sees the EV segment fully re-loaded to obliterate all the sales comps ending out the year, and going forward throughout 2016.
Editor’s Note: This sales recap and chart is reported in real time as the numbers come in on Tuesday Sept 1st. So if you are not seeing your favorite EV’s sales numbers for August, just check back later in the day and they will added once available – unless your favorite plug-in is a Ford, who will not be reporting sales for the Fusion/C-Max Energi and Focus EV until Wednesday, September 2nd in the early afternoon.
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 2nd @ 4:29 PM
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.
Below: Individual sales reports on each plug-in brand for the US
Whew, we finally made it through the long wait for the new 2016 Chevy Volt! Kinda.
Second generation, 53 mile extended range Chevys are now en route to California and Canada and will mark the start of the 2nd generation of plug-in vehicles for America!
Unfortunately, this recap is about August, of which there was no new 2016 Chevrolet Volts registered sold, which lead to just 1,380 2015 cars (or older) being moved off lots – which was off, well, a lot from the 2,511 sold a year ago.
Look for the new 2016 and the 3,200-odd remaining gen 1 cars to put up a much stronger sales showing starting in September.
We should note that the 2016 Volt won’t be in full, national production mode until November, so we expect September’s “California-only” sales to post a decent year-over-year improvement, but the more significant ‘wins’ to start in October, before the ending the year very strongly.
The Chevrolet Volt’s strongest sales year was in 2012 when 23,461 cars were sold. The question now is, “When will this number fall in 2016? Or will it at all?”
Nissan LEAF: Nissan posted a slight gain in sales over July, but was off significantly from its historical sales averages.
In August, 1,391 were sold, bring the year to date up to 12,382 – still good for 2nd place in EV sale overall in the US.
(full Nissan LEAF August sales recap can be found here)
Clearly, the decision by Nissan to not promote (or acknowledge) a longer range (~110 miles) 2016 LEAF model on sale in September really hurt August sales as customers could not evaluate whether the current discounts on the outgoing 2015 model where actually a strong value against the new 2016s.
Looking ahead to September, some ~3,100 2015 models are still available to be sold. We expect Nissan to formally announce the details on the 2016 LEAF any day now, but more importantly the pricing.
That being said, an accidental posting of the 2016 LEAFs on sale date for “mid-September” means that Nissan’s upgraded EV won’t arrive in time to help next month’s result all that much.
Still, we have to wonder, if the new longer range 2016 LEAF comes in with an MSRP of around $33,000, just how many copies can it sell to a US consumer that has to be getting weary of sub-100 mile city EVs?
Cadillac ELR: In August just 45 ELRs were sold from a relatively small amount of stock in inventory.
Last month our sources reported that new 2016 Cadillac ELR production (there was no 2015 model year ELR) was underway at GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan facility.
This month we are happy to say they have begun to arrive at dealers! Unfortunately, only a few managed to trickle on to lots before the month expired (think ~50)…but still, there is always next month!
The 2016 ELR does gain some performance over the 2014 model (0-60mph comes up in 6.4 seconds – 1.5 seconds than the older model), despite still using the 17.1 kWh battery found in the current Chevrolet Volt. The Cadillac also gets a $9,000 MSRP haircut (now starting at $65,995), which should help it move a little more product.
It is our opinion that the 2016 model year ELR was born out of the desire by GM to get a little more value from the outgoing ‘gen 1’ Voltec line, and the company will produce an undisclosed amount of ELRs this summer before turning off production and discontinuing the model indefinitely. 2016 Cadillac ELR production is now underway.
BMW i3: Previously in July, BMW rebounded nicely from a pretty disappointing June by selling 935 i3s in July.
However in August, the i3 took a bit of a step back, selling 792 copies – which was 23% less than a year ago when 1,025 were moved.
In truth, 2015 in general has been a bit of a roller coaster for sales on the plug-in BMW, previously notching 551, 818, 406 and 922 sales prior to June.
For the first 8 months of the year, the i3 has now sold 6,183 cars, for an average of 772 per month.
In 2014, BMW sold 6,092 i3s, good for the 7th best overall spot for plug-in sales in America…not bad considering it was only available for 7 full months in the US.
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 (or annual) updates add more clarity, but we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening.
To come to an estimated monthly, number, we don’t simply take the quarterly estimate given by Tesla and divide it by 3 and hope it all works out…it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.
We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, the first hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself when available – and the number is what it is. So far that has worked out pretty well, with no quarter being off by more than 300 units versus information Tesla has reported publically, and for the full year results last year we came within 100 units with our net estimate of 17,300.
That being said, we only estimate this number because Tesla does not, and to not put a number on Model S sales would be to paint an even more inaccurate overall picture of EV sales. Despite our fairly accurate track record, we are not analysts, portfolio managers and we do not own any positions in Tesla the company.
August was an interesting month for Tesla as the company both prepares for the upcoming Model X and works to get the new 90 kWh cars out of its Fremont factory.
Entering August, it did seem like it was going to be a pretty decent month for Model S sales, with the back end/last week of the month seeing a crush of new ’90s’ and Ds hit the streets.
Unfortunately, a pretty significant power outage (via a crane vs power-line accident) hit the factory on the morning of the 14th – which apparently took the lights offline until sometime on the 17th. Now we aren’t sure how much production this affected specifically for August, but many of the timelines for late August deliveries slipped mid-month into September.
Bottom line, Tesla probably delivered more cars internationally this month than in the US (and likely for a second month in a row).
We estimate ~1,300 cars were delivered in North America for August.
Look for September to become a classic “big push” month for the company in the US to hit its sales estimates of 11,500 cars delivered worldwide in the third quarter.
Also of interest: the Tesla Model X Design Studio went online September 1st for Signature reservation holders (specs/pricing here), but we expect only a handful of deliveries will occur during the September.
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV:
The first (and widely anticipated) plug-in offering from Volvo to be offered in the US arrived late in August, selling 4 copies.
The Volvo XC90 T8 (details) plug-in is rated at 394 hp, and will get about 17 miles of EPA estimated range (via a 9.2 kWh battery), and is the first to offer a standard dual 240v/120v dual charging cord set.
Pricing starts at $68,100 in the US.
It will be interesting to see how much demand their is for the first extended range PHEV in America, as Volvo already under-estimate demand for the XC90 plug-in by a factor of 5 in Europe.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: In August, 135 all-electric Sparks were sold, impressive considering the tight inventory situation.
Previously in July, GM did manage to scrounge up 57 copies to sell.
For the first 7 months of 2015, 1,977 have been sold, which is already 73% more than was sold in all of 2014 (1,145). Even though we are only 2.3rds through the year, we will give the little Chevy the “most improved sales” trophy a little early.
Earlier in the Spring, GM also confirmed the Spark EV would live on (in first generation trim) for one more year while waiting on the Chevrolet Bolt to arrive in 2017, however the Spark EV is only build in South Korea and production is sporadic at best.
After speaking with GM and getting their take on new 2016 inventory, we don’t expect to see any new inventory of the plug-in Spark until September at the earliest. Heading into September, about ~75 Spark EVs remaining unclaimed in inventory.
What triggered all the sales of earlier in the year (and demand still today)? A MSRP price cut on the Spark EV to $25,995, and a new aggressive lease deal at $139 per month.
GM sold 1,144 in total for the 2014 against 539 in 2013.
Ford Fusion Energi:
Despite the rest of the EV industry’s woes in August, Ford almost set a new year-high with the Fusion Energi, selling 949 copies.
Which came on the back of July, in which the Fusion Energi was once again the “high volume EV seller you can count on”, putting up another steady result with 852 cars sold.
The Ford is now less than 100 cumulative cars sold behind the BMW i3 this year in America. The battle for 4th pance rages on.
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: In August, 344 Toyota plug-ins were sold, which fell fairly significantly from the 584 moved in July.
For June, just 464 Prius PHVs were sold as production of the current car ended during the month.
May 2015 is still the car’s the best selling month with 727 Prius PHV sold, it was also the best result for the model since August of 2014.
For the year, 3,818 have been sold, which is off 66% from 2014 when 11,489 were moved through August.
We do still have to note – 2015 results are not a reflection on the demand for the car as…well, there isn’t that many to be had.
Although a next generation Prius PHV is confirmed, delays in the ‘regular’ Prius have pushed the plug-in version’s introduction as far off as the second half of 2016 as a 2017 model car.
This means a ~14 month gap (with zero production) will open up shortly and there will be no newly produced cars to sell over that period. We do expect inventories to see a slight bump this summer as the final build-out might mean some additional depth for America before the long hiatus begins.
On the inventory front, the question remains – “how many Prius PHVs did Toyota build up for the US market before it turned off the lights?” Heading in September, about 400 were available on dealer lots, but Toyota likely still has some quantity penned up for dealers to draw from in the future.
Our prediction, regardless of what the plug-in Prius sells this summer, there isn’t going to be hardly any left by the fall, and even low volume cars like the Focus Electric are going to clean its ‘sales clock’ next year – which is a shame, because the demand to still move 1,000 a month has never waned with the US public, only Toyota’s desire to sell them.
Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid:
When it comes to plug-in luxury, there is a new boss in town! Having just arrived in late July, the Mercedes S550 presents a level of refinement previously unseen in the EV segment for the US.
For August, 10 S550 PHVs were sold.
In its debut month, the plug-in Mercedes also sold 10 copies of the premium sedan, which starts at $94,400.
Despite its huge footprint, and pretty heavy weight (just north of 5,000lbs), the electric motor and turbo 6 cylinder still manage to zip the Mercedes to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, while giving the car 24 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway.
Range is rated at 12+ miles with the Prius-like “electric + gas” tag, meaning you have to drive with a certain light-footedness to get the 20 miles on just electricity. The S550 has a 8 kWh battery on board, so expect about a $4,700 federal tax credit with your purchase.
VW came close to setting a new all-time high for e-Golf sales in August as 381 EVs were delivered.
Over the past two months, 313 and 293 e-Golfs were moved, so sales have been fairly consistent.
Looking at the strong European sales, and the amount of EVs VW is selling from such a limited inventory in the US, the company has served notice that they won’t be relegated to the small volume compliance category of EV sales.
Adding to the demand in the US, the company introduced a new, less expensive SE trim level, which brings the base starting price of the e-Golf down to $29,815.
How high could sales go? Still fairly hard to say, but as inventories deepen across the US, the 500+ per month level ‘in season’ doesn’t seem hard to fathom today – at least when (and if) inventory levels get high enough to support that many sales.
Heading into September, national inventory of the e-Golf stood around ~800 copies, better than earlier in 2015, but still not deep enough – so we will still have to wait a bit longer to see the natural demand for the plug-in VW.
The e-Golf has been rated at 83 miles by the EPA and carries a 24.2 kWh LEAF-like battery.
Ford C-Max Energi:
Like its sibling Fusion Energi, the C-Max Energi showed no slowdown in sales despite a pretty poor showing by other plug-ins.
For August, 723 were sold, a new year high – just eclipsing the 715 sold in both March and May
Last month, a similar 693 plug-ins were sold.
So far though the first 8 months of 2015, 4,959 C-Max Energis have been sold, which is lagging the pace from 2014 when Ford sold 8,433 for the entire year.
In 2013, the high water mark for the C-Max Energi was set in October as 1,092 plug-ins sold. It would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED: In August, a fairly disappointing 172 B-Class EDs were moved. The fourth month in a row of declines.
Previously in July, and as steady as always, Mercedes sold 196 B-Class EDs in America, while 242 were sold in June, 278 in May.
The bad news for sales so far into 2015, is that the actual 2015 model year arrived very late, and now we are waiting on the 2016 model year season. Total lose-lose for B-Class ED sales so far in 2015.
Can the electric B-Class compete with natural rival BMW (with the i3)? It still seems highly unlikely, at least for now…but a lot more probable than a year ago. If Mercedes ever decided to really promote the EV we are confident it could sell 300-400 odd units each month without much trouble.
BMW i8: The i8 continue to impress in August as BMW notched another 210 sales – the second month in a row to cross the 200-threshold.
In July, 217 were sold, bringing the total number of i8s sold to 1,160.
July also marked the highest level of i8 sales for BMW in 2015 by a long shot (Apr – 138), and is also a new all-time record, passing October of 2014’s 204 cars sold.
Truthfully, “consistency” has been the word for BMW i8 sales, as sales have remained steady since its launch. However, looking at some additional inventory finally being available (and additional sales from that deeper inventory) this month, perhaps the better term should have been “allocation-restrained”?
All great results so far in 2015, as it only takes about 25 days for a car landed in the US to find a home. We don’t expected to see what the normalized demand is in the US for the i8 until the company can better produce the car.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid:
It has been tough-sledding recently for the plug-in Panamera, but August did set a 5-month high, yet still only 36 were sold.
Previously in July, only 23 Panamera EVs were moved, which wasn’t the car;s worst showing to date – but fairly close – the year-low came in May with 21 moved off lots.
The upcoming refresh probably can’t come soon enough.
Looking at the yearly trend, and the Cayenne S e-Hybrid is clearly taking more and more away from its sibling.
The high mark for sales on the Panamera was set in the first month of the year, with an amazing 141 sold. The advent of the Cayenne plug-in means that this level will never be seen again.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid has a combined 416 hp output (333 hp electric) and can get north of 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph. Pricing starts at $99,000. Also of interest, the S E-Hybrid is currently available at all Porsche dealers nationwide – a rare thing these days.
Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid:
In August, 83 Cayenne plug-ins were sold – which seems to be about the selling norm for the Porsche historically.
The S e-Hybrid has consistently outsold its Panamera plug-in cousin by more than a 2-to-1 ratio.
Previously in July 77 copies were sold, which was a slight decrease from June when 88 were moved.
The Cayenne S e-Hybrid all-time record was in May with 105 sold.
As more inventory of the Cayenne plug-in arrives, we expect more sales to be realized by Porsche.
While the Cayenne S e-Hybrid and cousin Panamera S e-Hybrid are still selling relatively close to the same level, don’t be fooled, the Cayenne plug-in’s demand is much, much higher.
How high? We can’t say. But what we can tell you is that since its arrival, inventory has been incredibly tight, falling back below 100 units again in July.
When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat has been giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.
UPDATE: In the past, InsideEVs had used data from a 3rd party data collection site, however upon inspection of those numbers, they were found to be materially short from rebates claimed on the car. Historical sales have since been updated to more accurately reflect the 500es true sales, and we will continue to report an estimated number based on more accurate data points.
As the summer deepened, we find so did Fiat 500E sales, with an estimated 610 sold during August, which continues the cars very strong run of late after selling ~485 in July. Truly the Fiat 500e is the king of the regional/compliance offerings in America.
The all-time high water mark was an estimated 1,310 estimated sales of the 500e in March.
As promised, the Fiat 500e sales footprint in the US ventured outside California last year, as the EV is now on sale in Oregon.
As for the car itself, the 500e’s 24 kWh lithium battery has been rated by the EPA to produce 87 miles of all electric range, and MPGe efficiency in the city is pegged at 122, and 108 on the highway, for a combined 116 MPGe figure.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Sales slumped to near-lows as just 6 new i-MiEVs were moved in August.
Previously in July, Mitsubishi sold a further 12 i-MiEVs in the US, which broke a string of 4 consecutive monthly highs after moving 23 copies in June.
In wider news: 2016s are here! 2016s are here!
Unfortunately not that many. A quick check around the US by ourselves at June’s end only returned about 70 copies, slightly higher than the past 2 months.
Long story short, sales are terrible, as Mitsu continues to learn the lesson of “If you don’t ship any inventory, its hard to sell cars.”
For its part, Mitsu says it will continue to sell cars the way it always has, which is by relying on customers coming into dealerships and practically demanding a car.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive:
For August, smart sold 106 more of electrified ForTwo, bringing the year-to-date sold up to 861 copies.
Previously in July, smart returned to 3 digits after taking a month off, selling 109 2 seat EVs for the month
In June, just 93 smart EDs were sold in a month when the Cabrio edition probably should have bumped sales of the smallest EV in America.
The best selling month this year for the electric drive smart was April when 124 were sold.
The all-time record for smart ED sales was set this past December, as 351 were moved.
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:
What can we tell you. Ford sold “100 and something” Focus Electrics for the 500th consecutive month in a row.
Ok, it is not quite that monotonous, but it sure feels like it.
For August, 173 were sold, after selling 135 in July, 152 in June, 165 in May, 124 in April…you get the idea.
- If you are keeping track of this sort of thing (and we can’t imagine why you would be), August’s result makes 28 of the past 31 months in the hundred-zone.
Those 3 other months? 85 and 53 in January 2015 and December 2014 (respectively), with the all-time high (and only trip into the 200s) coming in August of 2014, with 264 moved.
Kia SOUL EV:
Despite having no issues accepting the $7,500 federal credit (designed to encourage hitting EV sales targets in the US) against sales of the Soul EV, Kia has decided it’s no one’s business what those sales are (many media outfits, including ourselves have been rebuffed) – a testament to Kia’s true dedication to plug-in vehicles.
But none of that matters because there is more than one way to split out plug-ins sales from petrol ones.
August saw Soul EV sales improve slightly to 93 units, up from the 59 sold in July, but still off from the 109 moved in June.
This three-digit result in June was actually Kia’s best result of the year, but we have to temper our excitement for the achievement as quite frankly, it should be doing much, much better.
Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US?
The high water mark still stands at the 140 EVs that were moved in November…which means that, at least for now, the low 100s seems to be the acceptance level for the all electric Kia.
Honda Accord Plug-In:
Ok Honda, we want a names!
Who was it exactly who bought those TWO Accord PHV in August – and how much did they pay?
Yes, the plug-in Accord has hit the bottom and doesn’t have any further to fall…something we weren’t sure was possible after just 4 copies were sold in June.
Before June, 5 units were sold in each of the 3 prior months, bring the grand total to 62 Accords PHV moved to date.
Basically, there is absolutely no demand for the extended range Accord.
By the way, did you know Honda had a plug-in hybrid to sell? Few seem to. In fact, it has been on sale now for 26 months – debuting in January of 2013.
Well they do sell them….and for just $17,675 dollars more than the base Accord sedan you too can enjoy up to 13 miles of electric driving…provided you don’t accelerate too hard, or drive to fast. So, to say Accord PHEV sales are flat in the US would be an understatement.
UPDATE (June): Honda has finally put the Accord PHV out to pasture! Yes the 10th oldest plug-in brand in America (and arguably the least successful) is done. Honda has said there will be no future Accord PHV model, as the company will now focus on making both a fully electric and PHEV car that are more commercially viable (as opposed to being more of compliance plays).
Points to Honda for finally coming around to electric vehicles!
Porsche 918 (OTHER): NO DATA TO REPORT YET
Ok, we hear you! People always ask us, “why don’t you report on the 918 Spyder?”
Honestly, it didn’t fit our traditional mantra of reporting only “mass produced EVs for America“…especially as we already know the total number of sales to come for America.
Only 918 of the super exotic plug-in will be build over several years, and they are already all sold out, with exactly 297 destined to come to the US.
In August, 22 more of Porsche’s supercar were built and delivered in America after 40 were delivered in June.
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: