EVs, The First Million

DEC 30 2013 BY MARK HOVIS 37

So it’s the numbers season once again as we look to tally the EVs (plug-ins) sold in the US market. It is pretty clear that 2013 EV sales are just shy of the 100,000-units sold mark this year, an impressive 45% increase over 2012. This puts the growth curve well ahead of the hybrid curve that started in 2000.  

EV vs Hybrid Sales the first 30 months

EV vs Hybrid Sales the first 30 months

During the first 30 months of hybrid sales, around 3,000 hybrids per month were sold. The EV market is nearly triple that at around 9,000 plug-ins per month.

So, the question begs to when we hit the one million EV milestone? Yeah, I know, it makes the chief editors cringe to talk about such things, but tis the season. First, lets take a stroll down memory lane.

The original proposal was put forth in 2009 coming off a failed attempt of the EV1 and RAV 4 a decade before and with only the $120,000+ Tesla roadster available. Still, the proposal needed a number and there it was. One million EVs on the road by the end of 2015. Now, this prediction was so full of holes, it was a pretty easy number to discredit.  CBS pounced on the prediction and even was bold enough to make their own. So, it was quite incredible when CBS made equally bad predictions with an extremely low number of 310,663 by the end of 2015 that was equally easy to discredit. Politics! We don’t care so much about that, we just want to talk numbers.


New reports do not only focus on sales per vehicle and that is smart with the explosion of available choices. It is also wise not to predict around models only when the number of vehicles on the list are still ebbing and flowing at this point.  Some anti-EV predictors will certainly point to slow sales with the Plug-in Prius and Chevy Volt, though the Volt will be once again the number one seller.

Can I have a piece of your EV pie?

Can I have a piece of your EV pie?

The fact is the “EV pie” is both growing in size and giving up slices to additional models at the same time. The Plug in Prius has given up pie  to the substantial sales of the Ford C-Max Energi and the Volt has certainly given up some of the pie to the Ford Fusion Energi and will give up some more to the BMW i3 in 2014. Meanwhile the overall pie continues to grow in size and add more competing slices. Please visit the graphs at the top of this site provided by contributor kdawg to see more (or click here). So new predictions offer other methods such as a percentage on the annual growth of the market as a whole. Currently that percent was given by Navigant as 17%. Using their number, this would put the one million happening just short of 2018.

We also look for a shorter milestone of the first million EVs sold and that is the first global million. Although shorter in duration, it is much more complex. Will the Indian government take an active role in 2014 or will it be 2015? Will Tesla find success in China? Will global battery demands constrain the market? If the US million makes it by 2018, the global million should make in half this period.  

1,000,000 EVs sold vs 1,000,000 EVs on the road

Exactly how many are they?

Exactly how many are they?

These are two different numbers. Almost every report deals with new EVs sold, but it does not tell the whole tale of the EV evolution. As CNG vehicles rise, do you not think they count conversions on their scorecard? Of course they do and they should.  It has to do with what people are driving and what infrastructure is needed.

So what about the number of EV conversions? We would truly love to know this number.  I tried to contact a few conversion shops to get a feel for this number but there just isn’t any clear path to the math. Bottom line, this number is large enough to most likely put the 1,000,000 EVs “on the road” over the line with ease by 2018. As others have recently posted, 2-3 years off the original projection that was made before most of the first models even hit the road is not too bad.

Proof enough for this enthusiast that EVs are here to stay and will be a dominant force in years to come. So as we close the sales count in a couple of days, we salute our EV conversion brothers and sisters who we have no measure of counting. We know you’re out there and we acknowledge you on the road to the electric highway.  For the rest, we here at InsideEVs will be watching every step of the way.

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37 Comments on "EVs, The First Million"

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I don’t know if 310,663 by 2015 is “extremely low”. Then again, I count time the old fashion way, and when I say “by 2015”, I mean by the time 2015 gets here, not by the time it’s over. The latter would be “through 2015”.

Anyway, if we’re sitting at just under 160,000 as of November 30th, adding another ~160,000 in 13 months (through December 2014) is perfectly reasonable.

Hey Brian, the story should read more clearly, CBS’ prediction was for 310,663 by the end of 2015 – which as you point out, makes a pretty big difference. Will clarify the story some. Thanks!

That makes more sense. It also matches the president’s terminology, as I believe he was also talking about 1 million through the end of 2015.

It is interesting to add up all of the compliance cars. If you count the Focus (which is debatable since it is for sale in non carb-states) then all of the compliance cars together is around 9% which is about as much as the lowest selling plug-in that is not a compliance car (the C-Max Energi). But if you don’t count the focus, then all of the compliance cars together don’t even equal the sales of one low-volume production car.

“NBC pounced on the prediction and even was bold enough to make their own. So, it was quite incredible when NBC made equally bad predictions with an extremely low number of 310,663 by 2015” NBC should be CBS: per link and story: http://insideevs.com/cbs-goverment-1-million-ev-project-has-fallen-short-stalled-failed-cbs-is-wrong/ NOTE: While annual EV numbers were publish in the DoE Report they came from the auto manufactures. Some manufactures like Nissan and Tesla are within a year of 2012/2013 predictions, so were way optimistic (some of which are no longer in business). There are also manufactures/models no listed (Fiat, BMW, etc). It would interesting to revisit the chart of EV models with real data from 2011-2013, & what we know for 2014/2015 models. We’d probably find that 2017/2018 is still the timeframe. Looking further out to 2025, we have the ZEV states (following California zero emmissions mandate) of 10% ZEVs in 2025. (California has stated 3.3 million ZEVs needed to meet 10% target). “New reports do not make the same mistake of listing sales per vehicle and that is smart with the explosion of available choices.” I think it is poor judgement to ignore sales per vehicle, particularly if it is based on real sales data. Many… Read more »

Here is an important question for kdawg. To date are there more EVs sold or more graphs made for EV sales? 😉

Very nice, thanks!

I don’t know. Maybe I should make a graph to compare them. 🙂

How about statistics for REAL EVs (not hybrids).

Based on these figures, my gas powered ranger qualifies as a plug in hybrid, since it is possible to charge the onboard battery via the trailer connector.

How far can the ranger drive with just energy from the battery? PHEVs typically have a min. 6-10 range using only the electric motor.

For BEV stats, in US there are over 100,000! This 50,000 Volts, 40,000 LEAFs, 16,000 Model S’s, iMiEVs, 1200+ Roadsters, plus other models. There will always be some debate with vehicles like the Volt that have ~40+ mile EV only range. (is enough that many owner achieve over 90% EV only miles)

If one is a BEV hardliner, they may discount 1/2 of the Volt numbers; but all this does is move the 100,000 BEV milestone to 2014. What difference does +/-1 year make in the bigger picture? The accumulated numbers in EV growth over the next 3-5 years are much more interesting. 😉

Good article Mark H. As I have said before a graph is worth a million words. How many times do we see reporters taking one whole paragraph of words to explain something when you can say it all with ZERO words and ONE graph.

I guess the question is what product is not out there yet that could give this upward trend even more ooomph. I think a 48 kwh Leaf would be good….but GM needs to get on the stick. There are so many ways they could expand the Voltec line up. They also could get their 200 mile EV out there. Tesla model E is also the next biggy coming up for another shot in the arm for expanding kdawgs plt to higher ground. I really like being part of this.

Thanks Mark. I really enjoyed the article and the graphs.
Just to make the whole thing even more beautiful: maybe you mean something else, but I would calculate the sales increase in this way: about 96,000 in 2013, 52,581 in 2012 means an increase of more than 80% over 2012: (96,000-52,581)/52,581=0.82 (82%).

If you want to see the sales percentage changes, go to the “market share” tab at Kdawg.com.

1/2 million plugin vehicles is a nice round number and may be achievable by the end of 2015.

If we get to 1/2 million by the end of 2015, I’ll call it a moral victory…

That’s most likely the most feasible right now the main thing holding us back is the battery production and the low ranges of many of the EV’s.

Add to that price, and unknown long term battery reliability.

Please use an y-axis with logarithmic scale for exponential developments.

Extending Dave-Phoenix’s logic, Look at Cumulative Sales: [Hybrid Cars Dashboards and estimates]
2010 2011 2012 2013?
Plug-ins 345 17,813 53,172 95k? [that’s 79% growth]
Cumulative 18.1k 71.3k 166k?
If Plug-in sales grow about 80% in 2014, 70% in 2015, 60% in 2016, and 50% in 2017, we’ll be over 500k cumulative by the end of 2015, and over 800k by end of 2016, and over 1M by end of 2017. Any other guesses? Slower growth puts the 1M mark into 2018.
Do EVSE sales keep up with these numbers?

“This puts the [EV] growth curve well ahead of the hybrid curve that started in 2000.”

“During the first 30 months of hybrid sales, around 3,000 hybrids per month were sold. The EV market is nearly triple that at around 9,000 plug-ins per month.”

The hybrid growth curve is actually way ahead of the EV growth curve. Shouldn’t we start counting EV sales from February 2008 when the first Tesla Roadster was delivered to Elon Musk? It appears that you start counting EV sales in December 2010 when the Leaf and Volt went on sale. If you use February 2008 as the starting point, then the 30-month mark would be July 2010. As of July 2010 monthly EV sales were probably less than 100, and a total of less than 1,900 EVs had been sold in the 30-month period.

Setting a goal of one million EVs is a good thing. It matters not what the final number is in 2015. The question you need to ask is, did having the goal lead to more EV adoption and eventually more EVs on the road than would have been the case without the goal? Did it help to have the goal? If we reach that goal, does it mean the original was too soft? If your purpose of having a goal is to stretch you into acheiving greater things than if you didn’t have the goal then what’s wrong with not acheiving the goal. Also, step back and survey whether things are improving. If things are improving, even though you didn’t meet your goal, but you acheived more than if you did not have the goal, then what’s the problem? Many people are too willing to let the politicians and other controllers steer them away from common sense. We try hard, we set goals that stretch our abilities, we make thing improve and we move forward. That’s not the message from our fearless leaders unfortunately. Their’s is a message of consumption and debt, and a life of labor by the masses,… Read more »

Right now there are some 400.000 EV’s (Cars with a plug) worldwide and this year global sales should reach 200k.

Adding 250k in 2014 and 300k 2015 (A conservative approach), we should see the first million in the beggining of 2016, sooner if jackpot markets (China, India, etc) really takeoff.