Electric Vehicles Sales In US Surge Almost 50% In March, Led By Fiat 500e, Tesla Model S

APR 3 2015 BY JAY COLE 34

Yes, you read that headline right.  March sales were up almost 50% from last month (49% to be exact) thanks to strong performances by the new-to-market Tesla Model S 85D (AWD – non performance version) and the Fiat 500e.  Overall, an estimates 10,341 EVs were sold in March.

The Tesla Model S 85D (like the one we spotted at the NAIAS this January) Lead Tesla To A Yearly High In March

The Tesla Model S 85D (like the one we spotted at the NAIAS this January) Lead Tesla To A Yearly High In March

While Fiat doesn’t directly disclose sales, we can tell you than 1,223 Clean Vehicle Rebates were claimed on the 500e in March, that figure is 4.5 times the amount from last month.  Adding in sales from Oregon, we peg 500e sales at 1,310 units for March – a new all-time high, and obliterating any previous monthly number from Fiat.

That massive move jumps 500e sales for the year past not only the Toyota Prius PHV and the Ford Energi twins (C-Max and Fusion), but narrowly past the Chevrolet Volt into 4th overall for 2015.

Separately, Tesla had an incredibly strong last month of the quarter with the new Model S 85D.  We estimate 2,450 were sold in North America, while overall for the quarter Tesla announced they had beaten their own worldwide forecast of 9,500 Model S sedans sold by more than 500 with 10,030 sold in Q1.

Nissan sold near 2,000 LEAFs in March (1,817) which was 50%+ increase from February.  That result gave the LEAF the all-time sales lead over the Chevrolet Volt by a margin of 76,407 to 75,231, but not enough to hold off the Model S from taking over the top spot for sales in 2015 for the US (~4,450 to 4,085).

We should mention that were it not for Fiat and Tesla stealing the show in March, the Ford family of EVs would have taken the spotlight, selling a cumulative 1,692 cars, up 36% versus the 1,242 units sold in February.

On the not-so-good side of the ledger, the Chevrolet Volt fell to just 639 cars sold, and the Prius PHV stayed well below the norms of 2014 with just 473 cars sold – both cars are in limbo waiting on 2nd generation, 2016 model yet to arrive.

Overall, this month’s strong result turned overall year-to-date sales positive by a slight margin – 3% (23,339 vs 22,671)

Quirky stat of the month: The total estimated BEVs (all-electric vehicles) sold in March matched the total sales from February almost exactly – 6,949 to 6,951

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 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 Rebate Data

Some Other Point Of Interest From March:

Ford Is Expected To Compete For Most EVs Sold In April With Their Surging Fusion and C-Max Energi Products

Ford Is Expected To Compete For Most EVs Sold In April With Their Surging Fusion and C-Max Energi Products

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla Motors– 2,450*
  2. Nissan  – 1,817
  3. Ford – 1,692
  4. Fiat – 1,312*
  5. BMW – 1,065
  6. Toyota – 477

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In March*

  1. BEV – 6,949 – 67%
  2. PHEV – 3,392– 33%

New 2015 Highs Set In March (previous high in brackets):

  • Tesla Model S – 2,450* (1,150)
  • Fiat 500e – 1,310* (315)
  • Ford Fusion Energi – 847 (603)
  • Ford C-Max Energi – 715 (498)
  • Volkswagen e-Golf – 195 (181)
  • Chevrolet Spark EV – 151 (119)
  • BMW i8 – 143 (113)
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid – 72 (71)
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 10 (5)

Looking ahead:  Against a year ago’s results, April is the only (relatively) “easy” comparable to beat until September with 8,895 plug-ins sold in April of 2014.  Look for a win next month and flat to lower result the next four months, until the 2016 Chevrolet Volt and 2016 Tesla Model X lead September and the foreseeable future higher.

The full monthly recap by individual plug-in can be found on our March Score card here.

*-estimated

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

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34 Comments on "Electric Vehicles Sales In US Surge Almost 50% In March, Led By Fiat 500e, Tesla Model S"

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And this is with gas prices recessed. Imagine when/if the summer brings higher gas prices.

The Iranians are lining up takers full of oil as we speak (write) in anticipation of the end of sanctions. Expect gas prices to go lower.

They will have to wait for a few years …

The deal is already done. The Chinese and the Russians were a key part of it, and last time I checked they don’t wait for congressional approval. The Iranian deal simply becomes one of the many “defacto accords”, that is, everyone abides by it even though it was never signed.

It’s not a signed deal. It’s the framework -for- a detailed deal, to be signed. In other words, it’s an agreement to make an agreement, and no sanctions against Iran will go away until some time after the actual deal is signed, and that won’t be for months.

The idea that the Iranians have oil tankers lining up to export oil for sale… is a bit premature.

It’ not an idea, it’sa fact. All 17 Iranian state-owned supertankers are waiting at their docks, loaded to the gills.

electric-car-insider.com

In any case, total storage capacity in the US is at an all time high and there is a genuine shortage of places to store the stuff. Rail shipment delays are occurring because rail tankers cars are being used to store the stuff and clogging up side yards.

I knew that Fiat would turn in a good number this month, but I had no idea it would be that big. It just goes to show you what a good lease deal and social media can do to sales. The viral spread of the $85/mo lease deal on Facebook (and later stories on GCR and InsideEVs) really did it for Fiat. My wife and I talked about getting her one, but we just couldn’t take it seriously. We’re looking at e-Golf now but decided not to pull the trigger in March.

What are the “Other” sales? 1 Fit EV, 10 Porsche 918, and what is the last 4 units to make 15?

Pull the trigger already, I pulled it in 2012 when I leased a Leaf for $328 per month and have no regrets.

I love seeing the sales numbers, keep them coming.:)

@jay cole

I like the table but something I’d like to see is a BEV only version of the table or some sort of color coding to show BEV vs Plug in Hybrids.

Yesssss! I second!

I like the idea too, but I guess you’d have to break out the i3 Rex (or just live with the critics who would split those hairs – and how do you classify the Volt ??). But, excepting those problems, a BEV only graph would be best totally separate. You could make it interactive, which you could do with simple button link that filters to BEV only.

Incidentally, when I did that, I got 7321 BEVs for March, but maybe your stat quirk comment was made before your stats were complete.

Always nice to see sales surge ahead, but in this case the sharp rise over February may be largely due to delayed sales cause by the harsh winter keeping people from getting out to look at new cars, plus the work stoppage at West Coast ports.

Previously, InsideEVs predicted about 25% growth in PEV sales this year; I personally predicted weaker sales, in the range of 10-15% increase over last year. I’ve learned that the car market is too volatile for any single month’s sales to be an indicator of annual sales, and I certainly will be watching so see what happens over the entire year.

Pretty much true, though while ice did well in February ev’s tend to do worse in the Winter anyway. Good numbers but just a monthly jump.

Wow.. this is shocking news for Fiat. Aren’t they losing like $10,000 or something for every one they sell? Why are they now motivated to sell more?

Jay hi,

1. Can you add the year-over-year change to the article? That’s the standard metric for auto sales (and sales in general). Seems like we’re just about +7%, escaping a 2nd consecutive yOy decline by virtue of the incredible Fiat numbers.

2. Speaking of which: do you have any on-the-ground accounts and confirmation that indeed the 500e was on fire last month? Sorry to be on the skeptical side, but it comes with my job…

3. If indeed these are the #s, might we hear a different tune on EVs from Fiat head honchos soon? I mean, if they’re “losing so much money” on each one, why work so hard to sell more than you need for the minimal ZEV threshold whatever it is? Or is the threshold that high?

Anyway, your monthly scorecard never ceases to produce surprises… thank you for all the hard work! I couldn’t help notice it now takes 3 full days to squeeze the #s out of all EV makers.

Has it ever been released how many they will make? Maybe the reason they are pushing them so hard now is so they don’t take as long as Toyota did (30 months) to move all 2,600 RAV4 EV’s that Toyota needed for compliance.

Maybe Marchionne wants to get these all over with in less than two years? Great number for one month though!

It could be a push to pile up credits before the Bolt and LEAF gen 2 go on sale.

It’s a real shocker to me that the Fiat 500 EV did very well at over a 1000. Maybe the car company is starting to get serous realizing that the leaf was gaining ground.

The sad news today is that I think Nissan is going to lose a minimum of 1000 Nissan leaf sales month in Georgia. Also a lot of used EV’s are going to flood the market as people in Georgia try to dump them off to avoid that large $200 dollar a year tax.

Georgia won’t lose all Leaf sales. Keep in mind that the Leaf still sells in states that have no or little incentives. But, yeah, sales will slow.

Why would $200 a year cause anybody to dump an EV in exchange for an ICE that would make them spend many times that on gas?

I expect EV sales to spike before the credit expires.

how did they sell over 1,000

Makes me wonder if there was some large fleet sale.

Mike I. says: The viral spread of the $85/mo lease deal on Facebook (and later stories on GCR and InsideEVs) really did it for Fiat.

Wtf? I’d given up on march, fantastic news. I think it’s great to see another name near the top. I’d love to see fiat take the fight to nissan but I just can’t see it. I’d love to be proved wrong, it would be amazing to see good solid numbers from nissan, fiat, BMW, tesla, Kia and VW month in month out. Not every month would need 1000+ but if there was a group that big one could have a bad month and another woul step up.

Also if the 500e can make it in the US maybe there’s room for Zoe?

PRAISE THE LORD

Anecdotally, the 500e is one EV I spot very frequently around San Diego. I feel like it’s pretty even between the LEAF, Volt, Model S and 500e.

The statistic that strikes me and is very encouraging is that even though March was still a relatively cold month, BEV sales exceeded PHEVs’ 2 to 1.

I think there are many factors that are at play here. And without a doubt the two main factors was the weaker Chevy Volt sales, which is easily explained, combined with the unusual high Tesla and 500e sales. I’d say this is an anomaly and not representative of the usual BEV/PHEV split. In fact, I predict we’re going to see a good deal more PHEVs being sold over the next few years than BEV. I suspect Volt Gen-2 will take a big chunk of that, but many other manufacturers will be bringing short range PHEVs to market soon. And when the Outlander PHEV arrives, expect big sales on that one too.