DOE: 58% of BEV Sales in the U.S. Were Large Cars And SUVs Last Year

MAY 14 2017 BY MARK KANE 9

Tesla Model X

While electrification is usually associated with small all-electric city cars, according to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, most BEV sales in the U.S. last year were bigger offerings.

It is almost like there is one automaker offering larger products and skewing the results (see full chart below, and our historical sales numbers here)…but we digress.

The stats show that 35% of the BEVs sold in America are large cars, and 23% are standard SUVs.

For PHEVs the splits show some big differences, but thanks to BMW’s X5 40e, SUVs are again represented in the numbers: 14% standard SUVs, 41% compact cars, 40% midsize cars

Obviously the stats today are not representative of the demand of the market, but rather the offerings that are being built in relation to the “EV abilities”, however it is still an interesting glimpse into the make-up of the plug-in segment of today.

“All-electric vehicles (EV) come in many different size classes, but the largest share of EV sales in calendar year 2016 were large cars (35%) and standard sport utility vehicles (SUV)(23%). Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales were mainly compact and midsize cars, with 42% and 40% of the market share, respectively.

Of the nearly 347,000 hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) sold in 2016, close to three-quarters were midsize cars. There were 17.3 million light vehicles sold in the United States in 2016, more than half were SUVs, pickups, and vans.”

Sales Shares by Vehicle Type and Size Class, Calendar Year 2016 (source:

EV = Electric vehicle, also referred to as a battery electric vehicle (BEV), has only a battery for energy storage and must be recharged from an external source such as a wall outlet or charging station. Example: Nissan LEAF.

PHEV = Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle which draws some of its’ energy from the electrical grid by plugging in but also has an internal combustion engine to extend range once the battery is depleted. Example: Chevrolet Volt.

HEV = Hybrid electric vehicle which is only refueled using gasoline. Example: Toyota Prius.

ALL = All light vehicles sold in the United States.”


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9 Comments on "DOE: 58% of BEV Sales in the U.S. Were Large Cars And SUVs Last Year"

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I can understand large=Tesla S, SUV=Tesla X, but what make/model is EV station wagon?


The Bolt is actually labeled a station wagon by the EPA, and would seem to fit the small 3% margin for BEVs.


We’d actually need about 2600 units, to get to 3%. So maybe Bolt, B-Class and Kia Soul? Those would be about 2900, or 3.3%.

Or it is the Bolt and Soul, which would be 2.6%. It could also be the B-Class and Soul, but if you say the Bolt is a station wagon, per EPA, the DOE would probably agree.

In my opinion none of those is a station wagon, but they are the closest EVs to fit that description, while getting to a point where they would be rounded to 3%.


Mercedes B class would account for 1 of those 3%


I’d love to see a breakdown by EV maker.

I would have thought that about 98% or more of the cars counted in this category would be Tesla Model S’s and Model X’s, but from the above comments, perhaps the non-Tesla cars have a significantly greater percentage.

If the EPA is counting the Bolt as a “large car”… well, let’s just say I would find that surprising.

Eric Cote

“are against represented” should be “are again represented” I think?

Jay Cole

Yes indeed, thanks CC. Fixed!

Eric Cote

The “All” chart is very telling. Most popular segments, in order, are Small SUV, Mid-size car, Pickup, Compact Car.

So those seem to be the best areas to focus from a volume standpoint anyway.


That was my initial reaction as well, but there are several ways one could read that. Maybe people in general prefer large SUV but are going to small SUV due to gas mileage? Give them a choice of a larger SUV that is also efficient, they’ll choose that.

The EV and PHEV percentages are quite skewed towards the types of vehicles that are/aren’t available (no EV pickups yet)