Does September Indicate Reverse Of Downtrend In Plug-In Electric Cars Sales?

OCT 5 2015 BY MARK KANE 36

During September, The First Six Model X SUVs Were Delivered!

During September, The First Six Model X SUVs Were Delivered!

Plug-in electric car sales in the US decreased year-over-year in September to 10,134 or  7% down, but up 13% from the month prior.

The drop is similar to most of the other months this year, although this time the decrease was smaller than in recent months.

This is also the first time in several years that the EV industry in the US has grown between the August and September period(+13% in 2015, -11% in 2014, -21% in 2013).

Hopefully, this marks the long-awaited reverse of the sales downtrend and a return back to double-digit growth.

Whether the plug-in market will lift up like the Falcon Doors of the Tesla Model X, or remain weak depends on the delivery ramp-up of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Model X and 30 kWh version of the Nissan LEAF, as well as progress of other models.

Market share of plug-in improved a little bit to some 0.70% in September, although this still is far from 0.88% from one year ago:

US plug-in electric car sales - September 2015

US plug-in electric car sales – September 2015

10 plug-in models represents 90% of the market, while the Tesla Model S takes 20%:

US plug-in electric car sales - September 2015

US plug-in electric car sales – September 2015

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Categories: General, Sales


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36 Comments on "Does September Indicate Reverse Of Downtrend In Plug-In Electric Cars Sales?"

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Perhaps somebody should take the time to run all of the numbers and graphs and take out the Volt, Leaf, and Prius PHV out of the equation. Since those are the vehicles that are significantly down right now, due to obvious reasons, perhaps judging the entire market by all of the other cars might be a way to get an idea of where things are going…

Either way around, I’m sure sales will shoot up with those vehicles become widely available on the market.

It is tricky to draw out those 3 cars numbers (Volt, LEAF, Prius PHV) and draw firm conclusions because they do/did represent such a large piece of the pie.

Just as a couple examples:
on the negative side – other models would be helped by some magnitude with the absence of another
on the positive side – fully stocked/updated versions of the LEAF/Volt may have strengthen their own sales numbers by some unknown magnitude

…but with that said, the ‘rest’ of the EV market in the US is up 31% ex those three in the US through September.

I think another important factor to consider is the ev after effect. That is once you buy one you will not go back to an ice, or even a PHEV, for that matter, though the Volt is still a reasonable choice, for those who need more range.
Point being it is a cumulative effect that takes place slowly over time.

Its true, the average retention rate to stay “plugged-in” from the last model to the next for a US driver is around ~93%. …just have to get the ‘butts in the seats’ once — As a sidenote/kinda related to that…and I’m am certainly an outlier (so not holding myself up as a wider example). I have owned a lot of plug-ins, I flip a lot, but I have been in a holding pattern for the better part of a year (11 months since I bought my last plug-in) waiting on an Outlander PHEV in May and a Bolt/LEAF2.0 thereafter. So I’m currently in the midst of a ~20 month buying lockout period between EV purchases for the family. There is nothing the market this year can do to get me to buy. I think most current EV owners are in a not too dis-similar position if they are thinking about buying another EV – they are too aware of the future short-term landscape to pull the trigger on what is out there now…with the exception of those now able to “move up a class” ie) BMW i3 to Tesla Model S, and things of that nature Again, no hard data… Read more »

I’m PEV-less temporarily as my leased Volt went back in Nov ’14. I’m on ICE it until the Bolt comes out. While I loved the electric drivetrain, I couldn’t get another Volt (wife hated it) and the Leaf was too short on range.

Exactly … I’d love to get that $7,500 tax credit again, but I just have to be patient..two or three years we’ll see a new market place for BEVs!

Not covered in these numbers is the exponential growth in “used” PEV models. The market is growing at a rate similar to new PEV sales from 3-4 years back, just no data published as state governments have locked out public access to registration data (due to lobbying influence of NADA).

If it was not for Tesla, the graph would be very low.
Remove Tesla and see how the other car makers do their best to keep the trend flat.

From 2010 and up, this trend should have gone exponential… that is with real competing companies.
It only shows that we have a cartel protecting his ICE market..

Another negative to that approach is that quite a few plug-ins are still not sold everywhere. There are still plug-ins that are only available in limited markets.

So taking out cars that are available everywhere, would also slant the numbers.

I think electric cars will change the automotive product cycle strategies. I was never that into new models or mid-model “refreshes” – the savings for buying the old models were modest, and I never bought a car for exterior “style”.

Now with EVs, the model update comes with something really, really important. More range. I love my Leaf, but 107 would be much, much better than 86. And 147 would be even better, etc. Manufacturers will have to adjust when and how they communicate these model updates or risk tanking their sales (and residuals) too early!

I think this an important point.

…unless they do it on purpose… Marketing ( or anti-marketing) strategists are not so dumb you know.

I think it’s likely that sales were up a bit because Nissan and Chevy are offering more and more discounts on 2015 models trying to clear them out as the 2016 releases become imminent. The 107 mile Leaf might give us a true spike in sales if it convinces enough people it’s got the range and the battery won’t degrade as quickly as 2011 models, but I don’t really think sales will truly take off till there’s at least a 200 if not 300 mile range affordable EV…

I think the expectation of higher mileage evs has left some waiting to buy or leasing in the mean time, as you and many others suggest.

I agree that once we see 200mi ranges at 30k-35k things will start to pop in the ev world.

A 200 mile range between charges would be nice, but I think the key is ‘between charges’. The charging infrastructure has to grow in the USA to get the sales growth. That supercharger network is really paying off for Tesla. I think it is one of the factors that keeps Tesla sales growing in the face of lower gas prices. While Tesla is adding new models (which can’t be dismissed as a reason for great sales numbers), they haven’t really added more vehicle range. That is why I think the level 3 charging network is key future sales growth. In a Tesla, people can travel between the East and West Coast of the USA. Don’t you think someone would try to do that in a LEAF if they could? That ability would drive up sales. Instead, even with a very affordable EV, people talk about how Nissan just doesn’t have the range for them.

Just the addition of large scale Model X production, the new Volt and Leaf, and the Outlander PHEV should push sales up in 2016 to at least the prior peak share of the market. For real market share expansion, things will depend on additional products in the 2017-2018 range, like the Model 3 and Bolt. Once legacy car manufacturers discover they can sell a good number of plug-in vehicles (as BMW now is with the i3 and i8), and the motoring public discovers they enjoy driving electric, the boom will really start to happen. It will still take years after that for a the full tipover to electric, as a range of plug in vehicles need to be designed and fast charging networks built out.

If you look at worldwide figures, you see an average of 50% YOY increase in sales.
That’s incouraging to me, not the US figures.
Lack of availability of models in the US is also a problem, no CUV or SUV, other than the new MX doesnt help.
Hardly any EVs on TV is also a major problem as most people dont even know evs are available.
Monkey see, monkey do!
Show them cars on TV and poeple will buy them, no doubt about that but the unwillingness of makers to supply them for films or TV programs is greatly apparent here.
If you were to see Tony Stark drive a MS in the next Ironman or Marvel movie, Tesla would be booked for years, same goes for GM and others who make or could make COMPELLING cars.
Sadly, this is not what we see.

This is (one of many reasons) why InsideEVs is the number one EV-related site out there. 🙂

…the other is the stunning looks and charming personality of its editor-in-chief

(thanks for the kind words/confidence bump M)

I think level 3 charging on the 2016 Volt would really help Volt sales. As for now you have to wait 4 hrs on level 2 chargers. A quick charge would allow the new Volt to get 100 miles of EV driving


Heck, even 6.6 or 7.2kW charging would help the Volt. But I doubt fast charging the 11kWh or so net battery pack is feasible due to small size and possibly chemistry. Note the Focus EV with similar chemistry also lacks L3 charging. Or it’s just Ford and GM being cheap.

The power is determined by the size of the battery, the rate is the same. So a 11kWh battery could be charged to 80% in 30 min the same as a 20 kWh or a 90 kWh battery but the charger would need to be about 20 kW, 50kW or 180 kW respectively. Charge rates are not linear so a 25 kW charger will charge a 24 kWh battery to 80% in 30 min vs around 20 min on a 50 kW. One of the things that I thought was disappointing about the ELR was that it had the same charger as the Volt for all the extra money they could have had a 15-25 kWh charger and given you an 80% charge in 30 min from an AC charger.

Doesn’t have to be Level 3 I would be very happy with a bump to 6.6 KW

Oddly, with InsideEVs it is irrelevant that Q/Q sales of the Model S grew by only 0.4%, but the news that they were up Y/Y (Q3 to Q3) was proof that they are growing dramatically. However, when Y/Y EV sales (on a monthly basis) are down, the rise from Aug-to-Sep proves that Y/Y data is irrelevant. Clearly it just depends on which number looks better — that will tell you which period of performance to use.

InsideEVs needs to get into the business of writing political advertisements. You will be right in your niche.

I’m not sure how much more InsideEVs can write about Tesla’s sales numbers and the sales numbers of EVs in general. The entire chart shows EV sales down year over year.

As you probably know, there are a lot of reasons for this aside from the normally reported low gas prices. There is good reasons to think sales will be up significantly the last few months of the year for both Tesla and EVs in general as new models are released.


What’s this now? We didn’t tout at all the year over year quarterly Tesla numbers. In fact we never talk quarterly on anything. The only reference to Tesla’s sales in Q3 is this piece:

Tesla Reports Q3 Sales of 11,580 – Meeting Expectations

Which only states Tesla hit estimates, while also noting that those estimates where reduced, and the large amount of sales Tesla still needs to hit their full year mark. Think it was more than a fair/objective piece.

…I believe you might be seeing fires where there isn’t any. This piece here goes out of its way to allow for interpretation of the data either way.

Tesla bashers come up with some truly bizarre ways to try to twist the facts, don’t they?

Let’s see what facts are, regarding Tesla’s past annual sales numbers and current projections:

2012: 2658
2013: 22,450
2014: 31,655
2015 (estimated): 50,000-55,000

Annual sales growth:

2013: 844.6%
2014: 41%
2015 (estimated): 58%-73.7%

Now that is what businessmen call a “growth company”!

Nothing the Tesla bashers can possibly say, none of their negative spin attempts, is going to affect this reality.

A businessmen looks into the future and not the past. Yet, Tesla failed to show any proof how to maintain growth over the next 2 years. Model X? Not a single real customer delivering yet. No delivering dates. No real ordering possible, only a few invites can configure.

Tesla is driving the EV market. None of the legacy builders care what cars they sell as long as their CEOs satisfy Wall Street; SUVs, smoking diesels, high NOX diesels, etc, Nissan included.

When Tesla starts cutting into their segment sales percentages, the others will take up the challenge out of necessity. The transition to clean cars will be a long process…er…fight.

Renault-Nissan and BYD are driving the real EV market. Tesla is and will be a niche toy company for the riches.

The InsideEVs editors, or at least some of them (Hi, Jay!), have been predicting since the beginning of this year that the 4th quarter sales would more than make up for a lackluster first three quarters.

But with the debut of the new Volt apparently delayed and also apparently in for a slow start, and with the new Leaf being only an interim upgrade with a much better one coming in just a few months, I question that 4th quarter sales will be strong enough to make up for sales being down the first three quarters.

I predicted at the beginning of the year that 2015 sales would be up only 10-15% over 2014. At the moment, it looks like even that may have been too optimistic.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but that’s the trend I see. And I doubt next year will be that much of an improvement, altho we can expect Tesla to continue to increase its year-on-year sales significantly. The Model X almost certainly won’t sell in significant numbers this year, but should ramp up to exceed Model S sales sometime next year.

I’m going to guess 115-120k this year. Something like 150-185k in 2016

Impressive analysis. Just one little thing I think wasn’t factored in. “National Drive Electric Day” is in September. The more people who drive EVs, the more EVs are sold/leased. Many people who wouldn’t normally encounter EVs in a personal way had an opportunity to satisfy their curiosity without pressure from salespeople. I also think the general public is noticing more charging locations. I’ve had more family & friends giving me ‘tips’ on locations they’ve spotted recently. Maybe the more chargers available, the less range anxiety is an issue. Of course, I always hold out hope we as a nation are getting wiser and realize cheaper gas won’t last for much longer.

If you talk to Chicken Little, he will always tell you that “the sky is falling.”

EV critics will always seize on the tiniest bit of negative news to slam electric cars.

Don’t be like them.

Here’s a good example. Sales of Model S are down year on year in Norway.

3,431- thru Aug/’14
3,116- thru Aug/’15

But in Sweden sales are way up:
141- Aug/’14
635- Aug/’15

And in Denmark:
276 Aug/’14
725 Aug/’15

Not to worry, gentlemen…

If slow U.S. EV sales persist past the first quarter of 2016, then go ahead and take a couple of aspirin and call the doctor in the morning.

Sales in Denmark are pushed high by the end of tax exemptions next year. You can’t call it substantially growth.