December 2018 EV Sales: What To Expect? (Plus Tesla / GM Estimates)


Wow, what a year it has been!

December 2018 will mark the 39th month of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains for plug-in vehicles.

Each month, InsideEVs tracks all the plug-in EV sales/deliveries for the United States by automaker. The last five consecutive months are now the top five best-selling months of all time. We have no doubt December will make the list, but where will it fit in? Is there a chance it could shoot to the top, or will it fail to surpass September and November numbers?

If history repeats itself (and we believe it will), December will be the strongest month of the year. However, there are many variables involved. Tesla Model 3 deliveries have remained somewhat flat over the last few months. In addition, Chevrolet Bolt and Volt deliveries were way up in November. The same situation was true regarding the surprising escalation of Ford Fusion Energi, BMW 530e, and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid sales in November. Keep in mind that these inconsistencies may not have played out the same for the month of December.

Top Months for U.S. EV Sales to Date (estimated):

  1. September 2018 – 42,548
  2. November 2018 – 33,944
  3. August 2018 – 36,380
  4. October 2018 – 34,094
  5. July 2018 – 29,514

As of the end of November 2018, an estimated 311,177 plug-in electric vehicles had been sold in the U.S. this year. That only leaves about 32,000 deliveries to push the number past the 350K-mark. Clearly, 350K will be easily achieved, but how much will 2018 sales exceed that threshold?

Check Out: Contributor Josh Bryant’s 2018 yearly sales predictions here

In December 2017, an estimated 26,107 plug-ins were sold in the United States. In August, September, October, and November 2018, we saw well over 100-percent gains from last year’s numbers. Will December be another repeat of this trend? Will we see deliveries pass 52,000? We don’t think so. September and November sales were epic, so it’s going to be tough for December sales to fare substantially better. Nonetheless, 2018 will still go down in the history books as a fantastic year for the segment.

More Info: How about a deep dive into our estimates and methodology?

Tesla likely delivered significantly more Model S and X vehicles in the U.S. in December than it did in November, and Model 3 sales are expected to be record-breaking. Our early estimates indicate that Tesla delivered about 33,000 vehicles in the U.S. last month, 24,500-25,500 of which were Model 3 sedans. We eagerly anticipate Tesla’s quarterly report and hope the automaker surpassed these preliminary numbers in its big end-of-the-month push.

It appears that GM’s November sales push didn’t hold up through December. Inventory is down, and we estimate combined Chevrolet Bolt and Volt deliveries shy of 4,000. All other models — at least as a whole — should see reasonable gains over the previous month.

Based on our initial estimates, we’re looking at over 48,000 electric cars sold in the U.S. for December 2018. Perhaps some surprises will push the number much higher.

Stayed tuned and keep refreshing the pages throughout the coming days as we put the numbers to the dialogue. We will begin reporting EV sales Thursday morning (January 3, 2019) and continue through the end of week. However, if some automakers decide to release numbers on Wednesday, January 2, we’re prepared to begin reporting. In the meantime, below are some questions to consider. If you have a question you think deserves to be on our list, drop it in the comment section, and we may add it to the monthly report card.

What are your estimates? Please share them with us in the comment section below.

Questions entering December:

  1. Will Tesla Model 3 U.S. deliveries remain flat, rise marginally, or skyrocket?
  2. How much was Tesla able to ramp up U.S. Model S and Model X sales due to the upcoming expiration of the U.S. federal EV tax credit?
  3. Did the Toyota Prius Prime make another notable delivery surge last month?
  4. What do GM’s official quarterly numbers reveal about Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Bolt EV sales in comparison to our estimates?
  5. 2018 Nissan LEAF U.S. sales have been on the downturn for the last two months. Can the LEAF close out 2018 with a strong December showing?
  6. Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid sales have been impressive all year, but especially over the last three months. Can December deliveries set a new record for the Clarity?
  7. Will the Jaguar I-Pace show exponential sales growth again in December?

***InsideEVs’ journalist Wade Malone provided sales estimations and related analysis.

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

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36 Comments on "December 2018 EV Sales: What To Expect? (Plus Tesla / GM Estimates)"

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My bet is, it is going to be at least 50k for Dec. Probably close to 55k

While that would be nice, I’m not sure if Tesla even produce that many, even with selling off the loaners.

I’m sure Najeeb is talking about total sales, not just Tesla. Last month was 44,148 so only takes 6k to get to 50k and I agree with his estimate.

Tesla sold 32K, the rest of the industry just needs to sell 18k, which should be easy (GM should be selling like hotcakes now, to take advantage of the full Federal rebate)

I sold 3 Volts to co-workers in a single week in December. And I’m not a Chevy salesman. If people knew more about the Volt and they were adequately stocked, sales could be much higher. Sigh.

i try tesla and volt
volt is out

I’m thinking TM3’s sold will be 30,000. The S and X at 2,500 each. Total sales of 60,000 all Plug-Ins at 60,000.

Would be great if monthly sales scorecard were updated with these preliminary estimates.

These are only preliminary. We don’t add anything to the scorecard until the official sales days begin and automakers begin reporting. We also publish the Model 3, Leaf, Bolt/Volt articles first and then publish the full report card, at which point we begin updating the official scorecard. This is just an early idea of what some of the numbers are looking like. We have more work to do for sure.

You guys should maintain a delta-scorecard. Show how far off your estimates were each time.

We add information in the model recaps if we have to adjust estimates after quarterly reports. For example: Tesla Model S – Revisions/disclaimer to the accuracy of prior estimates: The 2016 Model S chart has been adjusted (via U.S. Q3 data leaked directly from Tesla) by 469 units in Q3, and 525 units in Q4. The 2015 chart was adjusted (one time) by 498 units to compensate for confirmed full-year numbers. The 2014 sales chart was adjusted (one time – again after the end of the full year of estimates) 611 units to compensate for full-year numbers. Tesla Model X – Historical accuracy/Sales Update (Oct 11th): Tesla’s leaked U.S. sales data for Q3 2016 put U.S. deliveries at 5,428. Our own Q3 estimate was 5,800 for North America, which includes Canada (which ended Q3 with 389 registrations for the quarter), meaning 5,787 were actually sold. Though we don’t attest to being experts, we were only off by 13 units in Q3. Previously in Q2 2016, Tesla reported 4,625 Model X deliveries. Our estimated scorecard got within about ~55 units of the actual number (accounting for just a handful of international Model X deliveries). In Q1 we were within ~200 units.… Read more »

Being that Tesla doesn’t ever disclose actual monthly numbers, and international deliveries are included in their quarterly reports, there’s no way to actually show with 100-percent accuracy whether or not we were correct, aside from when Tesla has leaked other numbers or shown more specific U.S. sales figures via a comparison chart or the like.

GM doesn’t split monthly data anymore either, so we know we are right for the quarter, but there’s no way to check if we’re correct on a monthly basis.

The rest of the automakers that we estimate provide very little data, if any.

I think Model 3 USA sales are up significantly from last month, at least 5k.

It would be shocking if they weren’t. Tesla sales always peak in the third month of a quarter, and this quarter had extra factors that made that peak likely to be even more pronounced.

The estimate here is 25k which is already better than your guess of last month + 5k. And my guess is that they will even have beaten that 25k estimate by a decent margin.

I really like the LEAF, but I fear everyone is waiting for the longer range version, so not much improvement there.

That style of vehicle has a really hard time getting traction in the US (Premium compact hatchback). I think the ID Neo could do well here with about 300 mile range and 125 kW charging, but they are avoiding this market for the same reason. Bolt EV and Leaf don’t sell well here.


Will Tesla take the top three positions in the US with the Model 3, X, and S, or will the Prime rain on that parade?

Seems that S, X, and Prime have too much of a lead for anything else to have any shot at catching up.

Great question! Thanks

Yep, great question!

Prime will likely win that one (beat S and X that is).

Has BMW increased production of the i3 yet?
And has BMW US gotten better allocation?

Combined total number of Tesla EV deliveries (3+S+X) in December 2018 will be more than 32,000.

Agreed. If the remaining 40 EV models produce only 16,000 of IEVs 48,000 preliminary forecast, that puts into perspective where Tesla and BYD are sitting in the revolution.

I hate how GM chose not to attack the mass market during the final months of their tax credit. They should have a plug-in CUV version of Equinox ramping up like mad right now.

While they deserve credit for delivering some pioneering plug-in vehicles, they are treating them like a cost to be minimized instead of a potential break-out seller. Not really so different than Toyota after-all it seems to me.

Toyota has more obviously been slow-walking the technology to the market, but I don’t think GM has gained any lasting edge by delivering ~100,000 more plug-ins so far, not when Toyota is delivering ~1.5 million hybrids in 2018 which gives them massive experience producing electrified cars that will translate easily to BEVs when they make the move.

“translate easily to BEVs when they make the move.”
more like:
‘if they make the move.’ -or-
‘when they FINALLY make the move.’ -or-
‘when they finally give up on FCEV’

“December 2018 will mark the 39th month of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains for plug-in vehicles.”

Monthly sales are not “year-over-year”, that’s annual sales. They could be month-over-month. Or more simply, perhaps:

“December 2018 will mark the 39th month of consecutive monthly sales gains for plug-in vehicles.”

Monthly sales gains would mean it was higher every month than the previous month, but that’s not the case. Some months are higher since they’re the end of the quarter or for another reason, while some are lower. However, every month in the last 39 months has performed better than the same month from the previous year. So, every month has shown a year-over-year monthly gain. We’ve been stating it and explaining it this way since the beginning. “Year-over-over monthly sales gain,” versus yearly gain or monthly gain. We will also see a year-over-year (annual) gain for the year as a whole, but we also saw one each month for more than three years now. Hopefully this makes more sense now. Thanks.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

I’m looking forward to the numbers, but more than that, I’m looking forward to the LOL chart.

December numbers will be interesting. What will be really interesting though is the Tesla numbers for January and the months following. The interesting part will be Model 3 sales numbers. I’m interested to know how much demand remains for the 50k M3s.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

48k. They’ve just cut the price by $2k.

Tesla will ship considerable numbers of high-margin fully equipped Model 3 to Europe starting in January. They should be more profitable than most of the remaining US market for the Model 3. Plus, Tesla will be eager to have considerable and visible numbers of Model 3 on the roads of the most important European markets before deliveries of Audi, BMW and Mercedes BEV begin.

“Q4 deliveries grew to 90,700 vehicles, which was 8% more than our prior all time-high in Q3. This included 63,150 Model 3 (13% growth over Q3), 13,500 Model S, and 14,050 Model X vehicles.”

That probably means more than 24,000 Tesla Model 3 deliveries in the US in December 2018.



With just the Tesla numbers in (~32k), the top 5 months of all time are set (I’m sure Dec will move to the top as more come in, of course)

I put the year total at just over 360k