August EV Sales Higher For US, But You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!

1 month ago by Jay Cole 62

Chevy Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt EV sales crossed the 2,000-level for the first time in August…can the 238 mile EV hit the 3,000s by year end?

Sales of plug-in vehicles in the US continue to show strong growth in 2017…and we haven’t even gotten to the “good part” yet.

For August, some 16,623 plug-in vehicle deliveries were made, an improvement of almost 15% over the ~14,592 sold a year ago.

In fact, last month marks the 23rd consecutive month* of record gains in the US market for plug-ins, and as mentioned this is the “low point” of the growth curve for America moving forward.  For 2017 YTD, ~121,501 plug-ins have been moved, up 31% from 2016 (~92,211 sales).

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 – show here being accessed remotely via mobile app- looks to re-write the EV sales record books at year’s end

While a handful more of Tesla model 3s went out in August, expectations are for some pretty lofty returns on the latest Tesla in Q4 – perhaps upwards of 25,000 copies.

Add in the soon-to-arrive deeper inventory of the Toyota Prius Prime with the 2018 model year’s debut in a month’s time, the Chevrolet Bolt EV just going national in the last week or so, the newly re-designed/longer range Nissan LEAF (full details here) arriving in December …and the typical year-end EV sales spike – thanks to how the $7,500 federal credit works, and we’d be shocked to not see 100,000+ plug-ins be sold in the last 4 month’s of the year.

Getting back to the “here and now”, three offerings all sold around 2,000 copies in August to move the needle higher in the US:  the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and the Toyota Prius Prime.

Interestingly all of the top 3 sellers in the US for August are expected to put up big gains in September. As noted the Bolt EV deepens its nation-wide advance, the Prius Prime’s inventory doubled in the last weeks of August, and there is an almost unprecedented amount of US Model S customer order in Tesla’s production queue.  In other words, if you are betting on EV sales for September – take the over!.

Also of note for August EV sales:

  • The Tesla Model S widened its lead for the US sales lead in the month, as the Chevy Volt seems to be having some trouble this Summer competing against its stablemate Bolt EV.  GM made 4,708 Volt sales over the past 3 months vs 6,424 a year ago…bringing the YTD comparisons into the red this month for the first time in 2017
  • the BMW i3 continues to flounder in the US, sales were 50% lower in August than a year ago. Perhaps the introduction of a new, sportier i3s edition (details) will help sales somewhat (although we tend to think that a price cut and adding some range would be the more obvious choice to help sales rebound)
  • smart, despite losing  2/3rds of its US dealers for the 2017 model year as the petrol versions fade out, the new 2017 smart Electric Drive arrived in August, selling almost 3 digits worth of the re-designed city car.  As for the loss of all those dealers?  It really doesn’t effect smart ED sales, as the bulk of the monthly EV totals have always been from the remaining 1/3

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 (Thanks to HybridCars for assist on Kia data)

Other Statistical Points of Interest from August 2017

Yupe, the Volvo XC60 Plug-In Hybrid has arrived in the US (albeit in limited numbers so far)

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* – 3,800
  2. General Motors – 3,576
  3. Toyota – 1,820
  4. BMW Group – 1,729
  5. Ford – 1,598
  6. Nissan – 1,154
  7. VW Group – 625
  8. Daimler – 419

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In August*

  1. BEV – 8,743– 52.6%
  2. PHEV – 7,881 -47.4%

(*) estimated

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

  • Chevrolet Bolt EV – 2,107 (1,971)
  • BMW 530e – 345 (343)
  • Kia Soul EV – 300 (171)
  • Volvo Xc90 T8 PHEV – 265 (202)
  • Kia Optima PHEV – 182 (130)
  • Mercedes C 350 3 – 212 (210)
  • smart Electric Drive – 94 (22)
  • Mini Countryman PHV – 86 (75)
  • Tesla Model 3* – 75 (30)
  • Volvo SC60 PHEV – 65 (13)
  • Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid – 23 (22)

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)

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62 responses to "August EV Sales Higher For US, But You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!"

  1. Kdawg says:

    Nice. I look forward to the results at the end of the year. We’re nowhere near Norway levels, but we are going the correct direction. Did anyone do the math yet for market share for plugins?

    1. NAJEEB says:

      i counted it as 1.12 %. 16,623/1,484,826. I used data from the truth about cars. Thanks for the more in depth calculations.

      1. wavelet says:

        Thanks, I was just about to ask about that (-:

        For Jay Cole:
        Jay, would it be possible going forward to include the overall EV marketshare in the monthly scorecard as well (once numbers are final)?
        IMO that’s also a very interesting indicator, no less than the absolute EV sales numbers.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        @NAJEEB

        Thanks for doing the math, that’s appreciated!

  2. WadeTyhon says:

    Bolt EV is within spitting range of Model X. Prius Prime is knocking on the door of the Volt!

    The newcomers are tearing it up!

    Now for the Model 3 to begin it’s climb!

    1. Mark.ca says:

      “Prime is knocking on the door of the Volt!”
      Yes, it is….but unfortunately it got the address wrong and it’s some energi Ford that lives there.

      1. WadeTyhon says:

        Energi was so happy to finally have someone come to visit that Prime felt bad and still hasn’t had the heart to leave yet…

    2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Prime would be higher if it weren’t totally inventory constrained in the USA. Japan’s taking a big chunk of the inventory. Of course, Toyota will prefer to sell in Japan so they have a reasonable profit margin.

      Aside: a local dealer actually sent me a flyer about the Gen 4 Prius. Not the Prime, but still better than receiving junk about the Camry or RAV4, which is what I usually get.

      1. WadeTyhon says:

        Yeah, I think Bolt and Prime still have plenty of room to grow… I expect Bolt to be near or above 3,000 for November and December.

        The sales guy I bought from runs an EV blog and he personally sold an additional 9 Bolts last month. (plus a few Volts) And the rebate isn’t even available here yet!

        The Prime could be doing even better if it were more readily available. Hopefully next year, Toyota will expand sales further in the US!

    3. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      I’ll never understand why anyone would buy a Prius over a Volt. My gen2 Volt is a blast to drive and even pretty good on twisty back roads, it’s quiet, and it looks sexy.

      If I drive normally I get at least 60 miles range on non-expressway roads. If I use Hold on an expressway I still get over 40 mpg unless I’m in a hurry and going 80mph.

      Despite living an a rural area where I need to use the range extender for most drives, my overall MPGe DESTROYS anything I could get from Toyota.

      What I like most is that I can decide whether I want to drive for economy, for arrival time, or for sport. The Volt never feels like an economy car even when I drive for economy, it’s that freakin’ awesome!

      1. DJ says:

        Congrats. For everyone else who only has say a 20 mile commute and can charge at work and then at home they get to drive mostly on electricity at a lower cost 😀

        To a lot of people the Volt makes more sense but equally to a lot of people the Prime makes more sense.

        I really don’t get why people have a hard time understanding that what works great for them isn’t necessarily what will work best for someone else.

        1. Rob Stark says:

          Because sometimes one car is objectively superior to the other.

          A large part of why people sometimes buy a car that is inferior on paper is brand equity and reliability/durability rankings and perceptions.

          1. And I suspect there are still some (Many?) Who hate GM for exiting EV’s, Selling off the NiMH tech to Big Oil, and Crushing EV1’s!

            I bought GM in 2005, my first new car, since having big financial troubles of my own, but moved from that through to 2 other OEM’s products since, all non GM. For one, I could not get that my 1981 Chevy Citation Had 12,000 Kms service intervals, and a 2005 Optra had 5,000 Kms Service Intervals!

            However, versus EV’s and keeping Dealers in business, it now makes more sense!

            1. Jacked Beanstalk says:

              I don’t get it. Presumably you’re upset that GM killed the EV1 because you thought it was a great car. So why aren’t you happy that GM have returned to making EVs?

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “…sometimes one car is objectively superior to the other.”

            But no two people are likely to agree, Rob, on what weight to give the various objective criteria.

            But more than that, very few people choose a car based solely on objective criteria. Subjective factors — which car someone “likes” or doesn’t — probably have more influence over which cars individuals choose than objective or logical criteria.

            If everybody made a buying choice based solely on objective criteria, then there would only be a few models of cars and light trucks on the market, rather than hundreds.

        2. Jacked Beanstalk says:

          The Volt would be even better for those who have only a 20 mile commute every day. I’ve met a few Volt owners with such commutes (or even shorter) and some don’t even know what it’s like to drive with the range extender on.

          I will add the caveat that I haven’t driven a Prius in a couple years. Maybe they’ve improved. But the last one I drove was just an economy car. Nothing wrong with economy cars, my last car was an economy car and it served me well.

          Here’s the difference in my mind: an economy car is like a toaster. It’s an appliance. My Volt? I look for excuses to drive it. Nobody looks for excuses to use a toaster.

  3. Jelloslug says:

    I’m really excited to see the end of the year with full US sales of the Bolt, Prius Prime, and the Model 3.

  4. NAJEEB says:

    Very encouraging trend. The launch of model 3 will help with the sale of other EVs. Once people realize they cant have one of those today they will explore alternatives. look for sales of bolt volt n leaf closely.

    1. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      Hope so! Any company that offers a serious EV deserves to sell lots. The Model 3 looks to be superior but the Bolt and Leaf may be better for some who need hatchbacks.

  5. MTN Ranger says:

    Where can you buy an XC60 PHEV? I went to Volvo’s website and it’s not listed.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      Weird, I updated the website and now it appears.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        …don’t you just hate that. Then you wonder how long it has been like that? lol

        To be fair, Volvo doesn’t have it featured, or on their main drop…you have to dig for it a bit, (=

  6. Warren says:

    30K for December, for sure!

  7. Alan says:

    You would have to think that 2016’s total US plug in EV sales will be surpassed in October leaving the last 2 months to be all gain over last year.

  8. F150 Brian says:

    A couple observations:

    1) 15/35 models are DOWN month over month (not including the 4 duds at the bottom)

    2) All US August Plug-in sales up 15% from previous year sales (to 16,624). Ford F-Series pickups were also up 15% (an increase of over 10,000)

    we’ve clearly got a ways to go…

    1. Kdawg says:

      Until we have plugin-trucks, I don’t think comparing these is very useful right now. I like looking at the ratio of how much market-share plug-ins are taking from sedans (and now CUVs).

      1. F150 Brian says:

        My point was that the YoY monthly *increase* in “one” model that is a heavy user of fuel was almost as much as all plugins combined.

        Significant net increase in potential fuel consumption from vehicles sold in August for just “one” ICE model.

        1. Asak says:

          I think everyone understands there’s a long way to go. However a decade ago this site probably wouldn’t be here, and we’d be talking about single digit EV, or low double digit EV sales in the whole country (mostly conversions).

        2. Kdawg says:

          Yep. Essentially we need plug-in trucks. I’m wondering if the gas price jump from hurricane Harvey, and now possibly Irma will have any affect on the mindset of vehicle buyers.

    2. menorman says:

      Most of the models down are clearly in the “compliance car” category. The second generation offerings that actually tried are doing much better, which is good in the grand scheme of things.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Indeed.

        If sales are shifting away from compliance cars in favor of more robust plug-in EVs, then that’s a very positive trend!

        EVs will never make gasmobiles obsolete so long as EV sales are stuck in the doldrums of compliance car sales.

  9. BenG says:

    Fairly anemic growth over last August, but I agree signs point to a big jump in September, sustaining through the end of the year as Model 3, Prime and Bolt sales surge above last year’s levels.

    As we finally have nationwide availability and inventory of the Prime and the Bolt that’s going to help a lot.

    December is going to be really interesting as people grab the tax credit and Model 3 ships in serious volume. There were ~24,800 sales in December last year. What are the chances we can double that number? I think it’s doable as we might see 10,000+ sales of Model 3 alone if things go well for Tesla.

    1. menorman says:

      I agree, I expect to see around 50k EV sales in December, especially if Congress is able to get their tax legislation done and cut the credit.

  10. Omar says:

    Haven’t looked at these numbers in a while. If the Model 3 hits Elon’s tweeted ramp, in September, the Model 3 should beat the LEAF and challenge the Model X and Volt and then shortly afterwards, beat the pants off everyone else.

    1. BenG says:

      One thing to consider: Musk was talking about production, not sales.

      Expect sales to lag production by some time period as cars go through quality control, so even if Tesla does meet Musk’s projection of 1,500 Model S built in September, many of those will be built in the latter 2 weeks of the month and will not make it into customers hands until a later month.

      I’ll hazard a guess of 500 Model 3 sales in September.

      1. Bacardi says:

        I also believe that if the “goal” of a 100 produced M3s happened for August, Musk would have tweeted about it…He didn’t…

        1. Nix says:

          As a rule, Tesla does not release monthly sales totals. I absolutely would not expect Tesla to end that practice anytime soon. We got July numbers only because it was part of their new product release event.

  11. Texas FFE says:

    I’m pretty disappointed in how poorly charging infrastructure is keeping up with EV sales. In the Midwest fast charging in the cities is pretty but traveling between cities is challenging. I had to make several L2 charging stops traveling between DFW and Austin this last weekend and I met a Bolt EV owner that diverted to Austin traveling from DFW to Houston because of the lack of CCS on the direct route.

    1. WadeTyhon says:

      I have been complaining about the lack of CCS between Dallas and Houston for years.

      The distance between the cities means that it is just barely beyond the range of the Bolt without hypermiling. There aren’t even any L2 stations! A Clipper creek 14-50 charger at an RV park might be quicker than diverting through Austin though.

      The good news is that several charging stations are supposed to be installed as part of the VW plan. Bad news is installation is over a year away.

      1. menorman says:

        Several of the charging operators have an option to have people recommend a location for installation, might be good to hit one of them up. This is where a national chain like Starbucks or McDonald’s would really set themselves apart by installing charging infrastructure at their storefronts.

        1. TomBrown says:

          Genius! Oh man maybe Subway would be a good one to do that… I don’t know any stats but I bet EV owners as a whole don’t eat at McDonald’s/BK as much. Too bad there aren’t Chipotle’s at most highway exits.

          If Chik fil A had EV chargers would they let you plug in on Sunday?

  12. Poul says:

    Where is the Fiat 500e? Has it been discontinued?

    1. BenG says:

      It’s in there at #9 on the list. 415 sales estimated last month.

  13. menorman says:

    Hyundai is quite the tease. Offer an unlimited mileage lease with “free” fuel for the first 50k miles, then not actually plan to deliver (m)any. Clever.

  14. Brett says:

    Finally saw a Bolt in person up in the Great White North of Canada (Eastern Ontario). Guess, two actually, over the past weekend. That 30,000 unit per year plan for the Bolt seems attainable if they are serving the entire North American market.

  15. Will says:

    Bolt finally really arrive in NE Ohio Cleveland. I’m going to test drive one in the next two days

  16. John says:

    Why is IONIQ Electric doing so badly?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      No inventory, it is pretty well documented that Hyundai way undershot this EV.

      The demand is off the chart in South Korea, they are planning to ramp 2018 production to supply ~900 a month for home (South Korea)/900 for RoW (rest of world) – which is still way too low, but the most they can bump it too for now.

      For 2017, they only targeted something like 8,000 cars, and moved more than 6k through May domestically alone. When will the US get depth? Who knows. Probably not until sometime after the longer range version debuts in a year or so.

      Will like be same story with Kona/Niro, production was pegged at something like 25k for first year’s run.

  17. Benz says:

    Mitsubishi i-MiEV

    It’s about time for Mitsubishi to go and start working on the development of Generation 2.

    1. Larry says:

      Mitsubishi’s creation was so retched, so awful, that they should be forbidden from making a new EV.

      1. Nemo says:

        It’s a perfectly fine city car. Underrated in the U.S.

  18. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The headline says…

    “But You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”

    Pushy’s Grammar Nazi head says…

    Shouldn’t that read “But You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet!” 😉

  19. gorr says:

    The bigger seller in japan is the new gas serial hybrid nissan note e-power. Unfortunately it is not for sale actually in north-america.

  20. Don Zenga says:

    Spain sold an above average 661
    Sweden sold an above average 1,880
    Norway sold an above average 5,393

    And US also had record sales. Hope the August may hit the 100,000 mark for Worldwide sales.

  21. John Mausen says:

    Resale value drops $6k per year.

    When the subsidies end, this market is dead.

    1. Don Zenga says:

      When subsidies end, automakers will cut down the price and still make a profit because the battery prices has gone down.

      Keep reading about the battery price and you will get a better idea.

    2. Ziv says:

      Don, is right. The EV manufacturers are banking profits while they can while the credit lasts. You can find all sorts of articles saying EV so and so is losing money on each sale but the smart money seems to indicate that the top 8 or 10 EVs in the US are making a decent amount of money per sale. They will easily be able to drop the price $3750 when the tax credit gets cut in half, and in fact, doing so will probably cause sales to go up since the perceived price will seem to drop for a lot of less informed car buyers. Seeing Volts MSRP at $29,500 and Bolt MSRP at $33,900 will help GM a great deal. Tesla may not need to drop their prices by the full $3750 because they have the cachet. Ford won’t be impacted since their packs are so small they don’t qualify for the full credit anyway. Nissans price could drop way below $30k for the 150 mile version and the 200+ version coming out next year could be around $30k.
      The credit getting cut in half will be a plus for the EV makers in the long run. There may be a slight hiccup when the credit goes away entirely, but given the rate of price improvements on packs and electric intent parts, it wont hurt for long.

    3. Nemo says:

      Eh, I’ve never once thought about resale value when shopping for a car. Do you? It’s not an investment.

      Then again, I always buy used, and keep them until they’re falling apart. So what do I know?

    4. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      The market will fine. Tesla are permanently changing the face of EVs.

      But I kind of a agree that cars like the econobox Bolt will be in trouble. It’s a great EV but GM don’t seem to understand that a hot hatch should look HOT.

  22. Anand Krishnamurthy says:

    what is your estimate for model 3 sales. If you look the production curve and take it at face value it appears tesla can produce about 30,000 model 3’s before the end of the year. Is that possible. any thoughts on lag between production and sale?

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