Electric Vehicle Sales Flat In February For US, BMW And Ford Surge

MAR 4 2015 BY JAY COLE 30

Ford's Family of evs Rebounded In February To Help Stabilize The Month

Ford’s Family of EVs Rebounded In February To Help Stabilize The Month

The BMW i3 took Everyone By Surprise In February With Strong Sales (Image: 2015 NAIAS - Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

The BMW i3 took Everyone By Surprise In February With Strong Sales (Image: 2015 NAIAS – Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

Heading into February for EV sales in the united States, we knew it would be a tough month, with lots of headwinds to face.

  • Record cold temperatures,
  • Wind-down of the current Chevrolet Volt before the launch of the 2nd generation 2016 model (details) in the fall,
  • Wind-down of the current Toyota Prius PHV, also with a scheduled relaunch of the next gen in the fall,
  • Thin inventories on the VW e-Golf, Ford Energi products and the Mercedes B-Class ED

Then there was some strong comparables to February of 2014, when an estimated 7,341 plug-ins were sold.

Thankfully, it did not turn out to be the bloodbath it could have been, as BMW surprised everyone by almost taking over the sales lead for the month with 1,089 deliveries that came seemingly out of no where.

The Only Plug-In  To Set A new 12 month high in February Was The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

The Only Plug-In To Set A new 12 month high in February Was The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Not to be out down, Ford ended a bit of a tailspin of their own, and notched improved months with all 3 of their plug-in offerings (Focus EV, Fusion and C-Max Energi); cumulatively, no one sold more EVs during the month than Ford.

During the month, the Nissan LEAF sold the most EVs with 1,198 sold, and once again took over the top selling spot overall in America. (full story)

In total, we counted 6,951 plug-ins sold for the month, down 6% from a year ago – which again could have been much, much worse.  For the year, and estimated 12,998 have been sold, almost dead-even with 2014 when 13,021 were moved.

Editor’s Note:  Full model-by-model recap and 2014 sales chart can be found on our February 2015 EV Sales Report Card – Updated: 11:17 AM, March 6th, 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, Now Estimated Based on 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, Now Estimated Based on Rebate Data

Some Other Point Of Interest From February:

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Ford– 1,246
  2. BMW – 1,202
  3. Nissan – 1,198
  4. Tesla – 1,150* (North America)
  5. General Motors – 939
  6. Toyota – 397

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In February*

  1. BEV – 3,532 – 52%
  2. PHEV – 3,256– 48%

New 12 Month Highs Set In February (previous high in brackets):

  • NONE

Looking ahead:  Many of the ongoing problems facing the industry in February continue into March, while the year-over-year comps get much tougher to beat (9,650 sold in March of 2014).

On the bright side, Tesla is delivering a lot of 85Ds in America right now, so some damage should be mitigated by the California-based automaker.  However, to show an improvement next month, one of the main players will have to surprise us.


Categories: BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Kia, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen


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30 Comments on "Electric Vehicle Sales Flat In February For US, BMW And Ford Surge"

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That’s a good spin on some bad data. Your the best


Not sure if that was a dig or a compliment.

But if you ex-Volt/Prius out of the equation (both of whom have been abandoned for all intents and purposes – especially on the Prius PHV), the rest of the market was up 15.3%.

I think the assessment of the situation is fair. I am open to other opinions though, (=


You can’t “ex-out” anything in a market always made up of many players.

One idea is to have the charts split. Show BEV and PiHV in separate rows and total each, then grand-total both sets. Since there is generally a near-religious “bent” saying PiHV/EREV “are not electric vehicles” then they may actually look better to some if split-out. But tell Ari C. out of Virginia his Volt is not electric and he will show you his 60,000 all electric mile driving history without using gas (on purpose).

No certainly the results as a whole have to be respected.

But when the #1 and #3 selling EV (at the time they were cut a drift) both go on virtual hiatus until the new model comes out, there is some extraordinary circumstance that need to be mentioned.

Same for when we hit September 2015, and especially into this time next year, when the industry is showing abnormally large 50-100% growth numbers. At that time, we will point back in the same way to mention how the comps are especially week due to the same extraordinary circumstances.

Just an effort to keep the narrative on track/balanced, so its not “ZOMG what is happening, the sky is falling” now, and “ZOMG the EV demand is doubling” a year from now.

I am beginning to wonder if late 2015/early 2016 will be a breakout time frame or a slight improvement. The Volt comes out this year and the Gen II Leaf will probably be out by the summer of 2016, but given the glut of oil and the law forbidding the export of any of it without refinement, we may have a longer than normal drop in gasoline prices. And the drop in gasoline prices is coming right when the North American light duty automotive fleet average mpg is at a record high. It used to be a LOT cheaper to drive a BEV/EREV than a gasser. Now the Prius is very close to the same price per mile as a Volt and not that far from the Leaf. I recognize that the price per mile doesn’t take into account the electric grin, but it does lose one of the motivating factors that used to bring people into the electric garage, so to speak. Back in 2008 when I started following the Volt on Lyle’s site, I thought that by 2012/2013 the true price (not MSRP) of the Volt would be as low as it is today and the price of… Read more »

Just my own opinion, it looks like the improvements will be significant and almost baked in/unavoidable…the same way the next 5 months will be unavoidably flat-ish.

The year-over-year comps are fairly low starting in September…around the same time Volt 2.0 and Model X are ramping out.

And the Prius PHV (when stocked mid last year) was selling 1200-2500 a month) on the long-in-the-tooth version. This time next year we will have a new/better and promoted model.

Add in the ~12 other plug-in models scheduled out for next 12 months on top and I think it is almost impossible to be showing small gains. There is room even for a couple major releases to fail/be delayed.

However it turns out, it will be a fun year to watch…not as ‘fun’ as 2016/2017, but what can you do?

I hope you are right, Jay! I have been getting kind of curmudgeon-like in my outlook lately. I thought electric cars might start slow and then take off after a couple years of production. But it hasn’t happened yet. I am glad that you are fairly positive, you have a better feel for the auto industry than most.

I love certain things about my Volt but the smallish size of the car and the relatively high price are two issues that haven’t gone away. Losing the positive push of car buyers towards electric cars due to high gas prices seems to be a bit of the problem, but the main issue still seems to be the simple fact that packs cost a lot of money even with the reduction in price per kWh that we have seen over the past several years.

I think when electric cars sales pass 1% of car sales it will be an important milestone and it can’t come too soon!

And thanks for fixing the typo in my first comment!

I honestly think we will have a flat whole-year. There is no real (meaning REAL) magic happening later in the year. Yes, X and V2. But otherwise, not much. BMW and Ford do appear like they have traction but isn’t BMW limited to about 1000 per month ongoing for a while for imports to the USA?

I will bet a beer or two that full year compares at the end of the year do not break 10% in-total.

I think this was a well written article. For me, I liked the more analytical approach with the ways you cut the data.

It makes sense that the current crop of 2011 technology with a few minor improvements is slowing in sales.

I want a 200 mile ev so I’m not going to be on the market for an upgrade until generation 4 electric cars come out.

The Kia Soul EV and the BMW i3 Rex are interesting choices if I didn’t have the Rav 4 EV and of course the ev dreamcar Model S is always on the top of my list right out of reach.

Toyota and GM taking breath isn’t such a bad thing as they are both pretty committed to reducing emissions.

The thing that I am most disappointed with is Leaf sales. I hope Nissan has something in the bag to push the sales forward. I feel like they are cruising a little bit at the moment. I wish they would do something exciting in the US – 7 seater electric mini-van, re-badged Zoe for the US, an electric pathfinder, an infinity with a 48 kWh battery, a massive price cut, something….. something that injects a bit of panic into the market.

Why no mention of the strong superbowl marketing campaign by BMW in favor of i3? It’s ridiculous to claim the surge in sales “came seemingly out of nowhere.” If we are going to complain about how Chevy fails to market their current gen Volt, I think we should give credit where credit is due. BMW did a fantastic job marketing the i3 and made it seem like it was the only car they sold for a solid week or two. When was this marketing campaign launched? Hmm… THE FIRST OF FEBRUARY. It should be no surprise that sales in February were nearly double that of January.

As someone who doesn’t watch football, I say “what superbowl ad?” It may have been informative, but…

I have seen i3 billboard signs on roadways. That is not cheap either. But the SuperBowl ad definitely has a big expense associated.

It would be interesting to know how many BEVs have been ordered. My order for a Ford Focus Electric was placed on Nov. 22, 2014. Still waiting…

Wow. It’s almost as if FORD doesn’t want to sell an EV.

What the?!? Get a different dealer, the one your dealing with is entirely and utterly incompetent. Cars.com shows 124 available nation wide. Call the next nearest dealer and have them ship you one from someplace. Absolutely zero reason to be waiting 5 months for a FFE, ZERO.

I hate to say it, but this may give some credence to Ford’s claim that they are “very well established” with their hybrid and electric cars.


I have to say, I’m disappointed that it seems like Ford will happily sit on their Energi cars as they are for the time being. They have so much potential, and could become great cars, if Ford would invest a little more. But it seems like they want to ride out the current iteration for a normal 5-6 year life cycle.

In about 3 years, I will be in the market for an affordable PHEV family hauler. As it is, the CMax is the only thing that comes close. Many more people are in the market today. It is such a huge missed opportunity!

Yeah, but considering Ford sold more cars with plugs on them during February than any other manufacturer, it is hard to pick on them too much. Granted, I agree they could greatly improve the Energi cars with some effort.

If someone on CNBC was allowed to say that “Ford leads the pack in electric car sales in the USA” – they’d be let go. It’s Tesla or nothin’ in terms of EV news there.

With sales this soft, you almost can’t blame most manufacturers for sitting on the sidelines or just keeping a “toe” in the water. If you have that toe in, you will likely be reasonably well positioned to ramp up once the market has shown a real interest in EVs (may come with the advent of 200 mile “affordable” EVs – who knows).

Exactly, it appears they are no idiots after all. They will probably step up around 2018 and do it very well with Tesla occupying a cosy niche market of 50 to 100K cars sold per year if all goes well.

As for Tesla sales in Europe, I just checked Norwegian and Dutch January sales which are the bulk of Tesla sales in Europe, Norway: 71 sales in January (VW e-golf: 879), Netherlands: 110 (VW Golf GTE: 905), if that trend continues in Feb. & March they will have to sale lots of model X later in the year to reach their 2015’s 55K sales target but as they are production constrained I guess there is nothing to worry about.

January in Europe, and for Norway, was mostly just trickle-off. Deliveries are mostly batched there.

Tesla put a very large quantity of freshly made P85Ds (after US production) “on the boat” in January, those started to get delivered in late February.

Numbers will be much, much higher in Norway for February (but no where else due to the delays in how the cars avoid the import tax with re-assembly). You will see the P85D affect elsewhere in Europe in March – and again in Norway during that month as well.

Indeed, as for Norway it makes sense since they need the AWD (harch winters). Anyway we will soon see as full quarter numbers for those 2 countries will be available in about 6 weeks from now. Still as I see the e Golf versions selling at a ratio of 9 Golf for one Tesla I can’t help to think that Tesla is starting to face some competition, and that from a car with a low tech battery, what when VW will start using the 154 Wh/kg battery they use for the Audit e-tron (same group) ??

How long before the i-MiEV is dropped into the “other” category?

Had Mitsu had not decided to re-introduce the model (2016 Model Year..there was no 2015), it would be there now.

2016s arrive this month, but I did talk to the Misu exec about the car (and the planning behind it) and he said they weren’t anticipating on marketing it any differently than the 2014…so I think that means will will start seeing that 20-40 monthly sales range again soon-ish.

It serves a purpose as the ‘cheapest EV you can buy’ but they really need to make some improvements. At least bump the battery size up to 20 or 24KWH. 16KWH is just not practical for a pure EV.

We can not discount Gas price drop as one important factor for lagging EV sales. Even 2014 Feb had bad weather. So blaming weather alone is not a solution.

Slight error on the chart: at the lower right you have the January total (in red) rather than the cumulative total.