EV Sales Reach All-Time High In US For September, Almost 17k Sold

1 year ago by Jay Cole 74

As has often been the case of late, Tesla Motors lead the sales charge in September

As has often been the case of late, Tesla Motors lead the sales charge in September

We have to admit, reporting on plug-in vehicles sales for the United States was a bit of a drag in 2015. The lack of new models, and waiting on new generational upgrades, meant that sales were flat for most of the year.

2016 has been nothing like that.

Toyota Prius Prime looks to be ready to give the Model S a run for the sales crown in 2017, after being priced in the US from $27,100 + DST this month

After taking 2016 off, the new Toyota Prius Prime looks to be ready to give the Tesla Model S a run for the US EV sales crown in 2017, after being priced in the US from $27,100 (+ DST) this month

And for September, a new all-time record was set, with ~16,974 plug-ins sold during the month, good for a large 67% gain over 2015, when 10,134 vehicles were sold.

The surge in EV registrations, combined with a bit of a slump for the overall automotive segment in the US for September (1,435,689 sales), gave plug-in vehicles more than 1% of the new car market for the first time – coming in at 1.2%

For the full year, US sales have now crossed into 6 figures, hitting an estimated 110,171 plug-ins sold after 10 months, a 34% gain from the 82,404 sold through September of 2015.

Finding a reason for the surge this month was an easy task, as Tesla Motors in an effort to hit earlier sales guidance, delivered a record 24,500 cars in Q3, with the bulk of them (about ~7,500 according to our estimates) happening in the US during September.

In so doing, the Tesla Model S achieved an all-time single month plug-in sales record in the US, selling more than 4,300 copies.

A few other models also reached new 2016 highs during September, including the Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model X and Volkswagen e-Golf.  

However, a few dogs still weighed the market down and prevented sales from passing the 17,000-level for the first time; most notably the under-stocked BMW i3, whose updated 33 kWh battery option (good for 114 miles in the BEV configuration, and 97 miles in the PHEV version) failed to arrive in volume before the older 2016 models ran out of stock.

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers NA-X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers NA-X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from September 2016

After 2 years of availability on the US market, the Kia Soul EV crossed into "the 200s" for sales for the first time in the US in September

After 2 years of availability on the US market, the Kia Soul EV crossed into “the 200s” for sales for the first time in the US in September

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla Motors* – 7,550
  2. Ford – 2,423
  3. GM – 2,352
  4. Nissan 1,316
  5. BMW – 1,085
  6. VW Group – 1,000

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In September*

  1. BEV – 10,771 -63.5%
  2. PHEV – 6,203 – 36.5%

New Year Highs Set In September By Model (previous 2016 high in brackets)

  • Tesla Model S* – 4,350 (3,700)
  • Tesla Model X* – 3,200 (1,860)
  • Nissan LEAF – 1,316 (1,246)
  • VW e-Golf – 529 (454)
  • Kia Soul EV – 217 (153)
  • Mercedes S550e – 41 (36)

(*) estimated

The full monthly recap by individual plug-in can be found on our Monthly Scorecard here.


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74 responses to "EV Sales Reach All-Time High In US For September, Almost 17k Sold"

  1. MikeG says:

    Almost 2/3 of those cars sold last month were BEV (64.2%). It will be interesting to watch the trend of that metric.

    1. R.S says:

      Tesla makes up 44.4% of all sales, so other EVd only make up less than 20%. Without Tesla, PHEV:EV would be the other way around.

      1. danzorr says:

        That comparison assumes that if tesla owner’s didn’t by tesla’s they’d buy gas cars and be completely out of the EV equation.

    2. pjwood1 says:

      Given Tesla’s footprint within the ratio, I think its fair to say that Autopilot may be skewing things. What’s the next best PHEV autonomous drive option?

      It wouldn’t surprise me if someone bought a Tesla and didn’t care, or feel threatened by electric drive, but just wanted AP.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        It would be surprising if absolutely nobody was attracted to the Model S or X because of the Autopilot features, but I don’t recall seeing a single post on any forum — including the Tesla Motors Club forum — from anyone saying that Autopilot was the deciding factor in their purchase.

        I suspect the percentage is quite small. No doubt as cars become more fully autonomous, that percentage will rise. But at the moment, I think it’s generally a pretty minor factor in buying decisions.

        1. MDEV says:

          Yes the Autopilot was the factor I decided a Model X for me, two other friends too.

    3. SJC says:

      After 5 years one in 200 cars sold (0.5%) is a TRUE EV. At that rate we will be all electric real soon now.

      1. Bob5 says:

        Tesla alone is up 60% from 2015.

        2016->2017 will be up 200%
        2017->2018 up 100%
        2018->2020 up 100%
        2020->2022 up 100%
        That’s 40 fold gain from 2015 sales.

        After that it will go 10 fold again in a few years. Just watch this unfold. Tesla will take 40% of world sales.

  2. jelloslug says:

    Sales through September almost beat total sales for all of last year. That is something right there.

  3. PJ says:

    I’ve noticed that each year you have a chart for excluding the first one, there have been 6 new models added. Will this be the first year to break that streak. How many new models are you planning on entering in the charts this year.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      In theory, we will still be adding:

      Hyundai IONIQ BEV (not PHEV)
      Chrysler Pacific Hybrid
      Kia Optima PHV
      Chevrolet Bolt EV
      Toyota Prius Prime

      There are a few others that “could” arrive, but they are fast slipping into 2017 (like the Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid)

      1. PJ says:

        Is the IONIQ PHEV now expected for 2017?

        1. Jay Cole says:

          The roll-out is apparently all kinds of messed up behind the scenes for the IONIQ plug-in.

          We don’t believe there will be a 2017 MY IONIQ plug-in hybrid at all…but that it will arrive as a MY 2018 sometime around next August (2017).

          1. PJ says:

            Dam, well that sucks. Will they increase sales of the BEV version to offset sales lost on the PHEV version. How much sales do they need to meet regulation

            1. Jay Cole says:

              No, nothing will change.

              Hyundai would only require BEV sales to accumulate ZEV credits for the future, but for the short term, they already have access to more than enough of those (if needed) via ~2,500 Kia Soul EV sales.

              Given the company’s fleet mix (the IONIQ BEV and hybrid), and the fact they already are selling 200-300 Sonata plug-in hybrids (and the Optima PHV is arriving), the essentially don’t need to sell any IONIQ plug-in hybrids. Ever.

              Just by way of sales projections, the company stated earlier they have a PTS to move 77,000 IONIQs (between the 3 models) over the first year of the car’s availability: 15,000 of which is heading to their domestic market (SK), with the balance heading to North America and Europe.

              Given you are then talking about 62,000 sales internationally for 3 trim levels, with the standard hybrid likely making up the bulk of them…the ultimate sales trickle-down projection for the IONIQ PHEV in the US when it arrives has to be something like a couple hundred a month one assumes.

  4. PJ says:

    Also I think we are going to hit at least 150k this year. At the beginning of the year I thought this year would hit 150-180k but the first few months made me think this wasn’t going to happen. But the last few months have been great. I now definitely think we will hit my low target for the year.

  5. Emc2 says:

    One more record is missing. With overall US sales of 1.4 million light-duty vehicles the plug-in segment passed the 1% market share of new car sales for the first time ever.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      That’s a good point Emc2, will add a note in about that. /thanks!

      1. Kdawg says:

        And also the record I mentioned below, of 500K accumulative.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Well, we did kinda cover that one last month, as pat of August’s EV sales results.

          U.S. EV Sales Surge In August To Nearly 15,000, Now Past 500,000 All-Time

          Those fringe/outsider EV sales in the US that don’t make the “classic” sales list each month tend to pile up over time (like 117 CODAs, 1,700 Fisker Karmas, 124 McLaren P1s, etc) and have accumulated for another ~5,000 sales.

          …but there is no exact right answer there, it’s really a discretionary decision on what you want to include in the count, and when you want to start the count

          ie) from the Tesla Roadster debut, or from the start of mass production in December of 2010, etc

        2. Kdawg says:

          Also, we almost hit 1% in June of 2016 (it was 0.99557%)

          15,063 plugins out of 1,512,996 total sales.

      2. fasterthanonecanimagine says:

        A related milestone: Half a percent of all light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S. in September were Teslas – 1 out of every 200! That’s f…..’ impressive.

        1. Get Real says:

          Good point faster…. .

          I’m sure that zzzzz, tftf, sven and all the other haters, shorters and cynics are gnashing their teeth over this!

    2. Dave says:

      That’s a bit more of a subjective statement. Is the Model X a car? Or an SUV? Depends on how you divide up the market. Statistics.

      There are no plugin pickup trucks yet, that’s for sure.

      1. PJ says:

        The 1.4 million light-duty vehicles includes all SUV, crossovers, pickup trucks. All the vehicles that people buy are light-duty. Non light-duty are garbage trucks, 18 wheelers, big construction trucks. If I’m wrong on this I hope someone will correct me

        1. Emc2 says:

          You are 100% right.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:


          We don’t see the term “light duty vehicle” used a lot on InsideEVs or in car review magazine articles and websites, but you certainly do see the term used in statistics related to the automobile industry, and in academic studies of automobiles and the automotive industry.

          The difference between a “car” and a “light truck” is rather arbitrary anyway. Is a vehicle which is variously described as a CUV or an SUV, like the Tesla Model X, a “car” or a “light truck”? The distinction may be important for getting license tags and it may make a difference in insurance, but by any objective standard there really isn’t any line between “cars” and “light trucks”.

      2. Mikael says:

        A car is a car… Most often carrying 1-8 people, having most commonly 4 wheels and an engine/motor and drives on roads.

        No matter if you call it a hatchback, SUV, sedan, compact, CUV, limousine it’s still a car. In the US you even call one of your models of cars “truck” even though it’s just an oversized car and used like a normal car.

        A real truck is not something you would drive back and forth to work or drop your kids off in (or even have your kids in unless it was a “bring your kid to work”-day).

        1. wavelet says:

          Unfortunately, people in the US do use real trucks as personal vehicles. Not trailer or semi-trailer rigs, to be sure, but still some pretty heavy pickups:
          Ford F350/450/550:

          and there were even 6-ton pickups:
          The INternational XT:

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            You found an exception to his general rule, but I think it’s still a good rule of thumb.

            “All generalizations are false, including this one.” — Mark Twain

      3. Ocean Railroader says:

        The Tesla model X weights almost 6000 pounds which is a lot more then most regular large pick up trucks. So it really won’t be out of the question to list the model X as a truck or SUV.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Google says “5,271 to 5,381 lbs” for the MX curb weight.

  6. Dave says:

    Wa-hoo! Tracking towards almost 1% of all vehicles sold in the U.S.A. (that would be around 175,000)

  7. SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD says:

    Noted a bunch of new X in San Diego this past week.

    Can’t wait for these two to evaluate: Bolt EV and the Pacifica to replace our aging CR-V and Odyssey.

    Wonder if Spark EV will continue or not.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      I thought it was pretty much unanimous that the Spark EV would be discontinued as the Bolt launches. Current inventory is very low and not being replenished.

      1. SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD says:

        Makes me wonder what kind of deal I can cut for these when coming off lease 😉

        Those Leaf deals make good references.

      2. SparkieVee says:

        My Spark EV lease ended Saturday. The bank wanted almost $13k for it, so instead I bought a new one. I knew they’d all be gone soon and couldn’t be without one.

        As more come off lease, the prices may drop, but they may not because a new one with tax credits keeps a cap on the price for now but won’t once the new ones are all gone.

        1. JustWilliamPDX says:

          In your shoes I would do the same! But my lease doesn’t end until July 2018…

    2. JustWilliamPDX says:

      No gen 2 for the Spark EV planned at this point. Those remaining in inventory are it.

  8. speculawyer says:

    I’m very happy to see all those German PHEVs with way-too-small batteries wallow at the bottom of the sales chart. They don’t deserve to sell well. Go pure EV for high-end luxury cars and at least put in a decent sized battery for PHEVs.

  9. JIMIJON says:

    Pure EV or Nothing!

    1. Ziv says:

      What a stupid comment. Like 99% isn’t good enough, we have to be perfect to be good enough? This evangelistic sort of temperament is sad.

      1. przemo_li says:

        Some PHEVs can only ride few dozens meters without ICE kicking in…

        There are PHEVs and PHEVs….

        1. Ziv says:

          I hear you, but I wouldn’t have bought an electric car if it wasn’t for the Volt. And I have used 33 gallons of gasoline in 37 months. This all or nothing mentality makes the electric car world look like a bunch of religious zealots.
          “MY WAY OR NO WAY!”

          1. david_cary says:

            Well my household has burn zero in the last 20 months. Which is better?

            But really – the original comment was about very limited PHEV’s, not the Volt.

            If you get frustrated with extremists, good luck having a position on anything. If you don’t expect extremists on an internet forum, you are misguided.

            Enjoy your Volt. Too small for many of us and very frustrating drivetrain because of GMs attitude. So good and so horribly underused. Makes you wonder about GM doesn’t it?

  10. Kdawg says:

    Something else to note, we broke 500,000 plug-ins sold in the US last month.

    My accumulative total is at 512,056.

  11. Someone out there says:

    Any guesses how this year will end? I’m guessing 154k.

    1. Kdawg says:

      I wonder how many Bolt EVs GM will get out the door before the end of 2016?

      1. ffbj says:

        Not many.

        1. Raymond J Ramirez says:

          But more than what you expect. I will predict at least 3,000 Bolt EVs will be sold by Dec 31st, 2016.

          1. przemo_li says:

            “Sold” or “delivered”?

            Sold 3k may well be the number.
            Delivered? No way.

            Bolt is still not in sale, and if GM had that big stocks already they would start early.

      2. Phr≡d says:

        couple thousand? thereabouts, just from new-kid-on-the-block action, MHO.
        December could be Very good to GM.

      3. Kdawg says:

        I’ll average your two guesses

        (not many + 2000)/2 = ~1000

        1. ffbj says:

          Don’t pursue accounting as a career.

  12. PJ says:

    What do you think the chances are that we hit 17k after 740e and 350e numbers are in?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Unfortunately, despite the physical arrival of some of those cars into the US, some hold-ups have prevented first registrations/sales from being recorded.

  13. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    And these are only the September numbers. InsideEVs editors have been predicting even higher sales numbers for the 4th quarter this year.

    Today I am very happy to be an EV enthusiast!

    Up the EV revolution!

    1. Tom says:

      Plus 154k….

  14. Ocean Railroader says:

    I was right we were going to have a all sales record.

    I suspect that these floods of EV’s hitting the road are going to have some effects on the ethanol markets.

  15. Nix says:

    This is very good news, and I was feeling happy.

    Then I remembered this story:

    “Electric vehicle sales and production will double in China in 2016, according to recent reports. This refers of course to both all-electric vehicles (EVs) and also to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

    Given that over 300,000 electric vehicles were said to be sold in China in 2015, that means that sales are expected to top 600,000 in 2016…”


    DOH!! Even while steaming ahead, we’re falling behind. Darn it!

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Count it in either kWh of batteries, or gasoline-powered miles replaced with electric-powered ones, and I think you’d see a different story. In China, there is no bright line between low-speed NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) and fully highway-capable PEVs (Plug-in EVs). A lot of those EVs sold in China are pretty slow, short-ranged microcars; others are cars that can legally travel on the highway, but can only get up to about 50 MPH.

  16. David Murray says:

    If fully stocked, I could easily see the Bolt and Prius Prime grabbing 2,000+ sales per month each by December. So that should add 4,000 more sales to that month. Plus hopefully the i3 should be restocked by then with the new model. I’m thinking December will be a great month for EV sales.

    1. Jean-François says:

      Do you think they will really add 2000 sales each, or that they will get 2000 each, but cannibalize some other existing models?

  17. ModernMarvelFan says:

    What is even more amazing is the fact this is achieved while the gas is still relatively cheap.

    That is amazing.

    But to keep it in perspective. It is really Tesla that is holding up the flagship. Without Model S/X, the sales aren’t really growing that much…

    1. przemo_li says:

      As expected.

      Panasonic is bigger then any other battery manufacturer and they serve almost exclusively Tesla.

      Others have huge numbers of models to server from smaller capacity.

      Thus with Tesla we see relatively huge absolute increases.

      For others “moooore mooooodels” seal some of that, and smaller capacity decrease numbers still.

      But it is growing still.

  18. Emc2 says:

    Yes indeed, look at this piece precisely about EV sales and gas prices based on InsideEVs figures published today by the UCS


  19. Chris B says:

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Ford seems to be making the smartest play here. With minimal investment they have decent sales numbers for the Energi twins and are building up EV experience. They appear to be keeping just enough of a toe in the water so they will know how to ramp-up when EVs actually become popular (don’t kid yourself, they aren’t), w/o sinking a ton of cash now. If Chevy’s Bolt stagnates at 2K cars a month like the Volt, that will also likely confirm Ford’s play…unfortunately.

    1. David Murray says:

      I agree that their plan seems to be the least risky and giving the most return (in this case, green credit and ZEV credits) I would love to see Energi cars across their whole line up. But I also wish they had something more exciting for the EV enthusiast.

      Just a case in point. I recently attended the Drive Electric Week event here in Dallas a few weeks ago. There were like 130 EVs there and I do not recall seeing a single C-Max Energi and there was only 2 of the Fusion Energi cars. Yet, I have seen these cars driving around town, and the definitely sell them here. So the point is, people buying these cars are not EV enthusiasts (at least not yet) because EV enthusiasts probably do their homework and buy something else.

      Now that the Prius Prime is coming out with 5 miles more range than Ford… I think Ford needs to add more range to theirs. On the bright side, at least the Energi cars aren’t slow like the Prius Prime. 11 seconds 0-60 is pathetic.

  20. sharkvolt says:

    I don’t think the Bolt will stagnate at 20k sales/year.

    I think, since it gets $7500 fed credit, and $2500 rebate from California, plus it gets White HOV stickers, which never expire, the Bolt sales in California alone will approach 20,000 in 2017. The only limit is going to be how many GM can put together and get out the door.

    I have already ordered mine, and I don’t even need HOV stickers!

    1. Emc2 says:

      Unfortunately, white HOV sticker do expire, in 2019, just the yellow ones did for hybrids in 2011. In addition, GM already is above 100,000 plug-in sold, so, the federal tax also will expire, tapering after the 200K cap. So, you better buy your Bolt soon!

    2. przemo_li says:

      It will stagnate at whatever capacity GM can possibly by from LG.

      Car looks nice, handles, well, have lots of room (for the size & price), and the market is big enough to fit both Bolt and Model 3 and few smaller competitors too.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        That’s my prediction, too. The question isn’t how many cars GM can make; it’s how many batteries LG Chem can supply to that one customer out of many, and how many EV powertrains an inexperienced company — LG Electronics’ new automotive division — can supply.

        If GM contracted for 25k-30k in the first year of production, then it seems very unlikely indeed that they’ll exceed that. In fact, I think it’s entirely possible that there will be significantly less. We’ve seen the problems experienced by a new company struggling to producing a defect-free car, at Tesla; will LG Electronics’ new division be able to avoid having similar problems?

        We’ll have to wait to find out the answer to that question.

  21. Bob Nan says:

    This is the 1st month that BEV sales crossed 10,000. Its great.

    Hope by December, the entry of Ioniq and Bolt will ensure that 10,000 mark is crossed on a monthly basis.

  22. James says:

    I’d be curious to see some discussion of EV sales trends without including Tesla. I suspect they would not show that much progress year over year. I would argue that current Tesla sales have more to do with their cars having become status symbols, than with increasing acceptance of EV’s. If Tesla is able to meet their future goals, they might be able to translate the brand cachet they have acquired with their current models into a mainstream EV market; but I agree with many industry analysts who say that’s a big “if”.