February 2017 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
After finishing 2015 mostly flat, the US plug-in electric vehicle market entered February of 2017 having set monthly gains in 16 consecutive months, an impressive stat to be sure. Of those 16 months, the last 8 months has seen sales really take off, averaging just over 50% per month.
However, the very recent trend has been stronger still, a record setting December logged some ~24,785 plug-ins sold, and when combined with January’s results, plug-in sales were up a combined 78%. So how does this month stand up to that kind of competition?
February 2017 continues the up trend – make 17 months* of EV sales gains.
For the month an estimated 12,049 sales were made, which was 55% more than a year ago.
Definitely the ‘surprise’ of the month was that the 75-month-old Nissan LEAF outsold the brand new Chevrolet Bolt EV – despite the Chevy having more in-stock inventory on hand for the month. The world has truly gone mad.
Coming in a close second was the Chevrolet Volt managing to hold of a surging Tesla Model S assault for first overall in sales this month, while the new Toyota Prius Prime is still the 2nd best selling EV in Amercia so far in 2017.
Questions for February (with answers in brackets as they come in):
- Can the Chevrolet Volt hang on to the top sales spot overall again this month? (yup)
- Who will win the battle of the “new major offerings” in February – the Chevrolet Bolt EV, or the Toyota Prius Prime? (the Toyota running away)
- Can BMW finally fix (or at least standardize) the 18-month string of bipolar i3 sales? (big no)
- Will the start-stop launch of the Pacifica Hybrid restart before February’s end? (nope)
Also of note: The fuel cell Toyota Mirai sold 110 copies in February
Last update: Thursday, March 31st, 2017, 1:28 PM
*On year of monthly sales improvements: We know someone is going to look at the chart and say, “hey, only ~11,467 sales were made in May of 2016, when 11,540 were logged in 2015! What gives InsideEVs?” What gives is – through an odd scheduling quirk, only 24 selling days were reported in May 2016 (versus 26 in 2015)
Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers. (Previous year’s monthly results can be found on our fixed Scorecard page here)
Individual Plug-In Model Sales Run-Down:
Someone forgot to tell General Motors last month that January and February are awful months to try and sell electric vehicles in.
As for the Volt, it only previously accomplished the feat of selling the “most plug-ins for January” ever, moving 1,611 copies.
How to follow that up in February? How about selling a personal record, 1,820 more cars in February?
For 2016, 24,739 Volts were sold vs 15,393 last year, a gain of 61%, passing the Volt’s previous all-time record for most sales in a year from 2012, when 23,464 were sold.
Also of interest, due to waaaay too many new vehicles being produced at GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan facility (Buick La Crosse, Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Impala…and yes, the Chevrolet Volt), the company extended its winter shutdown of the plant to ~3 weeks – running into early January.
That excess volume was evident with the 2nd generation Volt, as national inventories touched 6,000 units for the first time ever (by our count) in December, before falling back down to around ~5,500 despite the huge sales result during the month. For January, the inventory mitigated a little more, but still at a historically high ~5,200 units, with February also averaging ~5,000 cars.
Chevrolet Bolt EV:
GM’s first long range offering completed its first full month on the US market in January, selling an impressive 1,162 copies in California and Oregon (the two states selected for the Bolt EV’s launch before going nationwide later this year).
Unfortunately, and despite added 3 more states of availability in February (Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia joined California and Oregon), Bolt EV sales fell to 952 moved during the month.
And the sales slump didn’t have anything to do with inventory, as it steadily grew over the course of the month, ending several hundred units higher than the month prior and rapidly closing in on the 2,000 unit mark.
GM also gave us a mini-update on the new roll-out schedule for the Bolt EV:
- EVs are currently in transit to California and Oregon markets
- a number of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia will see first deliveries this winter
- Bolt EVs will arrive to more dealerships in additional major metro markets throughout the first half of 2017
- nationwide at certified dealers mid-2017
It is no secret Nissan is struggling with the first generation LEAF in the US as it ages into a much needed upgrade shortly.
Yet despite that, the LEAF has now seen gains in the past 6 consecutive months in a row (more on that below).
For February sales were up 11% at 1,037 copies, which incredibly put it ahead of the brand new Chevy Bolt in the sales race for the month.
Previously in January 772 were sold, after moving 1,899 in December…which was actually the high water mark for 2016, after selling 1,457 copies in November.
How rare have sales improvements been before this current run? September through December’s gains were the first for the EV in America in 20 months (you’d have to go back to December of 2014 to other year-over-year increases).
During 2016, 14,006 LEAFs were sold, off 19% from the 17,269 moved in 2015.
As mentioned earlier, we should note that the entry level price to the 30 kWh/107 mile edition of the LEAF was lowered with the 24 kWh trim level’s removal – the 30 kWh LEAF now has a starting MSRP of $30,680 + DST.
During December, average stocked inventory of the LEAF crept a little higher, averaging around ~2,000 copies – which is where it stayed during January, but still not far off historic lows. Basically, until the inventory improves with the upgraded and future edition, it is impossible for Nissan to perform much better than it has of late.
Toyota Prius Prime:
Finally, after 18 months of waiting the first generation Prius plug-in has been replaced. Enter the all new, much improved Toyota Prius Prime (details) which arrived on US dealers lots on November 8th.
Since its arrival the Prime has exceeded sales expectations, especially so in January as 1,366 were moved during the month – making the 2nd generation Prius PHV the second best selling plug-in for America during the month.
For February, the Prime continued to set a high bar, moving 1,362 copies…and unbelievable staying ahead of our estimate for Tesla Model S sales for far this year.
We should note that Toyota is pretty fortunate to have the Prime in its “Prius stable” as overall the sub-brand sales have been off considerably. For January, and despite the inclusion of the Prime’s sales (making up close to 20% of the total), overall Prius sales amounted to just 7,829 units – off 16% from a year ago, and well below previous norms.
It is no wonder then that Toyota has said the plug-in Prime is the future of the Prius lineup. Might we see a day this year where the plug-in outsells the traditional hybrid (which sold just 4,553 copies in January)? You never know, it might happen.
Yes, the Prius Prime is here, and it might just be your 2017 plug-in sales champion for the US, once Toyota’s Japan-based manufacturing facility can catch up to its worldwide demand; Toyota has briefly crested ~1,000 units in stock, but has had difficulty staying above the figure so far – making current sales just that much more impressive.
The Toyota not only features its own unique look, but 25 miles of all-electric range.
But most importantly, the plug-in Toyota is priced right – from $27,950, which after the $4,500 federal credit is applied gives the Prime an effective price of $23,450, a price-point that is actually more than $1,000 cheaper than the base hybrid version…which should eventually translate into very strong sales once the EV is well stocked, as the standard version of the car can sell upwards of 10,000 units in a month.
When it comes to plug-in vehicle sales in the US, no model was more disappoint, or more unpredictable than the BMW i3 in 2016.
As an example, the BMW i3 sold 629 copies in November, 442 copies in October, 391 copies in September, 1,479 in July, 608 in June, 814 in April and 182 in January.
Unfortunately, it looks like we are in for a repeat in 2017. Although January numbers were statistically improved by ~109% over last year….January of 2016 was a train wreck (with 182 sales), meaning that just 382 copies were sold this month. Yet somehow, BMW managed to do ‘one worse’ in February, logging 318 sales.
Quite frankly, the i3 is way too expensive for plug-in vehicle buyers, so if BMW wants to sell the EV in volume, it is going to have to sharpen its pencil…and by a lot.
For 2016 overall, BMW sold 7,625 i3s in 2016, compared to 11,024 a year ago – off 31%
Disappointing for future numbers, BMW closed out December with only about 600 units of i3 inventory – which we thought would be the new low, but that number managed to sink even a bit further in January – and stayed flat in February.
Truthfully, BMW’s inventory managing of its electrified fleet over the past year (now 7 strong worldwide) as been about abysmal as possible, as the company has potentially left 10s of thousands of sales behind globally thanks to an unpreparedness to produce plug-ins to demand levels. The only question that remains is whether or not it was/is intentional.
Earlier in September we got all the US EPA specs on the new 33 kWh i3 REx (details), namely 97 miles of all electric range, backed up by 83 miles of petrol abilities – for a total of 180 miles of driving range; numbers that most US customers didn’t seem all to please with (considering the 22 kWh 2016 version had a cumulative 150 mile rating).
Fortunately, we have been able to have the opportunity to have a long term/first hand review on both trim levels.
- BMW i3 (33 kWh) BEV – read InsideEVs’ own Michael Beinenson’s 1,000 mile report here
- BMW i3 (33 kWH) REx – read InsideEVs’ own Tom Moloughney’s first drive comparison here
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales (apparently because the public can’t handle the concept of regional allocations and delivery lead times)… so we never know for sure what the monthly numbers total up to until Tesla’s quarterly (or annual) updates add more clarity, but we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening.
To come to an estimated monthly, number, we don’t simply take the quarterly estimate given by Tesla and divide it by 3 and hope it all works out…it just doesn’t work like that in the real world. We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, the first hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself when available – and the number is what it is (see below)
Revisions/disclaimer to accuracy of prior estimates: The 2016 Model S chart has been adjusted (via US Q3 data leaked directly from Tesla) by 469 units in Q3, and 525 units in Q4. The 2015 chart was adjusted (one time) by 498 units to compensate for confirmed full year numbers. The 2014 sales chart was adjusted (one time – again after the end of the full year of estimates) 611 units to compensate for full year numbers. While past success is no guarantee of future results, InsideEVs is quite proud of its sales tracking for the Model S over the years.
That being said, we only estimate this number because Tesla does not, and to not put a number on Model S sales would be to paint an even more inaccurate overall picture of EV sales. Despite our fairly accurate track record, we are not analysts, portfolio managers and we do not own any positions in Tesla the company.
Most of the attention this month surrounding Tesla came via its fourth quarter report (which one can read about here), more specifically the news that the upcoming, less expensive Model 3 was on track to start production in July, and will/should reach volume production sometime in September.
With that said, we still have to go about the business of reporting on what is happening with the Model S, and for February normally operating procedures when it comes to production seemed to change somewhat.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact the company expected to shutter production for a “week” in February (we calculate that started about Feb. 18th), but Tesla uncommonly seemed to turn on the domestic production taps early this quarter – specifically in the second half January into February.
The end result is that more US sales were made than we expected. We are unsure if this means that Tesla is worried about an extended down time for the Model 3 tooling, or if March production will be scaled down, or it is just looking to get ahead of things for once (or worst case, international orders are soft).
Regardless the reason, we estimate that 1,750 Model S vehicles were delivered in February.
Tesla Model X: Like the Model S, Tesla does not itself report Model X sales, so we do our best – with all the data at our disposal to estimate monthly results for North America as best we can (For more info on that, check out our disclaimer for the Model S)
Historical accuracy/Sales Update (Oct 11th):
Tesla recently leaked US sales data for Q3 2016 put US deliveries at 5,428. Our own Q3 estimate was 5,800 for North America, which includes Canada (which ended Q3 with 389 registrations for the quarter), meaning 5,787 were actually sold – and not to brag…but that means we were only off by 13 units in Q3.
Previously in Q2 2016, Tesla reported 4,625 Model X deliveries…our estimated scorecard got within about ~55 units of the actual number (accounting for just a handful of international Model X deliveries). In Q1 we where within ~200 units.
Like its sister car, the Model S, the X had to deal with a plant shutdown for a week in the second half of the month to prepare for the upcoming Model 3.
But unlike the Model S, the Model X did not seem to share in the increase late January/early February domestic production boom that seemed to have occurred as a result.
Why did this happen? The most likely reason is that Tesla looked at its order books and decided to pull resources from the lighter selling Model X to assist in the new tooling for the Model 3 (although that is just speculation on our part).
The end result was that the current Model S to Model X sales ratio of 4:3 was broken in February, as we estimate that just 800 Model X SUVs were moved during the month.
While this report isn’t focused on international sales, Model X international sales seemed to be stronger than normal for this time of year (as a result of older Q4 production), especially as it relates to first RHD deliveries of the Model X (which our own Alex Wai attended the launch of in Hong Kong ~ 4 weeks ago). In fact, international deliveries of the Model X may oultimately outpace the US for the first time ever in February.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (aka Pacifica plug-in):
The much anticipated plug-in extended range passenger van arrived in January, albeit in stealth, stuttered… and very limited in fashion.
Due to some odd quirks with production timing and plant scheduling we have had a on/off start for the Pacifica Hybrid as it relates to deliveries.
Here is the nutshell version:
Production kicked off as expected November 28th at the company’s Windsor, Ontario plant, and it seems a truck or two of inventory/orders managed to get out before Christmas shutdown – which resulted in reports of handful of January 2016 deliveries.
Unfortunately, inventory over-stock gripped the domestic automakers in North America, and many plants where given an extended shutdown (up to 3 weeks in some cases) – this included FCA’s Windsor plant.
The result was that the re-start of production of the Pacifica Hybrid was pushed back several weeks, compounded by a subsequent quality control hold, parts issue in late January/early February. What we can say is that a fair number of Pacifica Hybrids have been built in February, but then penned up awaiting on QC. Various reports suggest that the plug-in van should start re-arriving, and in volume, by early-to-mid March.
So sit tight, they are coming.
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV:
Since the XC90’s debut a year ago, the plug-in SUV has found a consistent selling range in the ‘100s’ range over 2016.
And while it pulled pack in January (with 96 sales) and February (83 sales), the result is not all that unexpected given the difficult environment of the month.
The plug-in XC90 closed out 2016 by selling a strong 204 copies.
The Volvo XC90 T8 (details) plug-in is rated at 394 hp, and gets 14 miles of estimated range (0-12 in pure all-electric mode) via a 9.2 kWh battery, and is the first to offer a standard 240v/120v dual charging cord set. Pricing starts at $68,100 in the US.
Check out a recent electric range and efficiency test drive video review on the XC90 T8 here.
It will be interesting to see how much demand there is for the first extended range PHEV in America once it really gets its footing (and some decent inventory).
About ~18 months ago we naively added the plug-in Mercedes C350e to our sales recap, boldly proclaiming it to arrive in the Fall of 2015 – as promised by the company.
Then it was “early 2016”, then “Spring 2016”, then…well, you get the picture. At some point we just gave up, and if it happened to arrive and sell…we would report on that AFTER THE FACT.
Well friends, that month was December of 2016, as the C350e not only appeared, but it sold a very healthy amount of cars – some 171 copies!
With that said, and despite January being the ‘coldest’ of months to sell a plug-in, the C350e sold in an even higher amount during the month (a very rare occurence), moving 210 plug-ins for the month! For February, things normalized to more of what we had been expected as 51 were moved, but who can say what future sales results will bring.
Arriving on the US market last Spring was the BMW 330e, which is the plug-in hybrid version of the company’s high selling 3 series offering.
The 330e (from $44,695 including DST), physically arrived in April in a token amount, and it has taken BMW 8 months to…still, not stock it very well.
BMW noted in July that sales globally have gone so well that the 330e is effectively sold out for the remainder of 2016 (same goes for the just released 740e)…meaning the US will only get its rationed allotment of cars for quite some time.
That said, production and allocation to the US has slowly started to climb…and that has shown to a degree with sales. Sales peaked at 240 units in 2016 (Dec), but fell back to 129 in January, and 144 in February.
Ultimately, whenever BMW is able to build inventory, we expect the 330e to easily be able to see 500+ units per month.
As for the specs, the final EPA ‘real world’ range rating of just 14 all-electric miles (via a 7.6 Kwh battery – 5.7 usable) was a disappointment for some hoping for a number closer to 20, but with a 75 mph top speed in “Max eDrive”, it is a capable offering (featuring a 2 liter turbo inline 4) and should satisfy the traditional BMW crowd and be a strong seller.
The electric motor develops 87 hp with maximum peak torque of 184 lb-ft, when combined with the petrol engine, the total output jumps to 248 hp, with a peak torque of 310 lb-ft, allowing a sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph.
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron:
Audi had defined the word “consistent” when it comes to plug-in vehicle sales in 2016, dutifully selling the low 300s each month.
That is at least until December when it broke out of its normal pattern and a very impressive 589 copies.
Now the Audi e-tron looks to not only repeat that consistency, but improve, as a just as an incredibly impressive (considering the month) 400 plug-in A3s were sold in February, after moving 387 in January.
Overall, 4,280 copies were sold in 2016…a not insignificant contribution to the US plug-in vehicle sales scene. That said, Audi is still certainly not in the “big boys” category for EV sales, but also is definitely not in the “also rans” either.
Quirky fact not really related to EV sales, but certainly aided with the arrival of the A3 e-tron, the Audi brand has now set 74 consecutive months of record year-over-year sales in the US.
Part of the reason for strong sales for the A3 e-tron is also the (relatively) low price. $38,900 gets you the Audi badge, 8.8 kWh of battery – good for 17-odd miles of real world driving…and federal credit of $4,158, which is significant because this brings the e-tron package down to within $3,500 of the base MSRP of the A3.
Well that, and you can’t get the “sportback” version of the Audi in any other trim level in the US. Check out our own early/pre-delivery review on the Audi A3 e-tron here.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED (B250e):
Perhaps it has because the bar has been continually lowered for the B-Class ED (now actually named the B250e), but the 56 sold in February, and the 53 sold in January seems like a more than reasonable amount vs demand for the city EV these days.
Previously in December 54 were sold.
The B-Class has a bit of a rough go since its entry to the US. The original model year run (2014) was extremely short, the 2015 edition came late and without much fanfare or inventory, and the 2016 edition was hit early with a stop sale (which has now been resolved) then was cut-off at the knees with a lack of a “stock inventory” program by Mercedes.
It appears now that Mercedes has decided to make the B-Class a limited offering in the US until a new, longer range model arrives in the future (more on that below).
Last Fall, we also heard news (via a normally very reliable source) that Mercedes was about to get serious with the B-Class ED, giving it an estimated 300 mile (NEDC) ~225 mile EPA range upgrade in next generation trim, while also removing the Tesla drivetrain/components to bring costs down.
Then in August we saw the B250e sister car in China get a new 62 kWh battery pack (likely good for close to 200 miles of real world range), that might foreshadow what Daimler has in store this autoshow season for the all-electric B-Class.
BMW took the lead for “most plug-ins” offering in the US in September, as the 740e (details) joined the company’s lineup.
At least we thought they did…but by month’s end we found ourselves asking, “Where the flip is the 740e?” Truthfully, BMW’s apathy to producing and delivering cars as promised in the US sucks the life out of us writing these reports sometimes.
Did BMW deliver any 740es in September? No. October? Nope. Did it arrive in November? Once again, no. Thankfully, some actual “real life” inventory arrived in December…and then a blistering 18 were sold in January!
For February things improved somewhat, as 35 were sold.
Like the BMW 330e, the 740e is both a new plug-in product, and one that is in high demand. Even before the first copy was sold in the US, BMW has announced that all the global production for the 740e is spoken for in 2016…which means the US will be getting a token amount over the next ~6 months or so.
What will the demand ultimately be for the 740e? It is hard to say, but the $89,100 starting MSRP (less federal credit of $4,500) makes it near price identical to the 740i xDrive, and only a couple thousand more expensive than the “base” 7 series (at $81,500).
Given that BMW sells some ~1,000 copies of the 7 Series on average in the US, it is not unreasonable to think a few hundred of the 740e could be sold each month…that is once they are stocked.
Ford Fusion Energi:
The refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion Energi (details) was a fairly big hit in 2016, showing marked improvements throughout the year.
After selling a record 1,817 copies in November, the plug-in Ford took a bit of breather in December, selling just 1,099 copies, and in so doing relinquished the battle for #3 spot on the “US best seller list” to the Tesla Model X.
For January of 201,. the Fusion Energi eked out a small gain from a year ago, moving 606 copies this month (vs 581 in 01/16) before improving considerably in February – selling 837 copies.
Looking at the inventory in the past, it was easy to see why (and how) so many of the new Fusion plug-ins were sold over the past few months; the Fusion Energi has often won the crown for the “most stocked” EV in the US (before Chevy got crazy with the Volt)…but with that said, Ford has been struggling to keep production on pace with demand, and national inventories fell to around 2,000 units ending out 2016, and continuing at about that level into March.
Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e:
With all the fanfare of…well, absolutely nothing, the first GLE 550es quietly slipped on to Mercedes dealer lots in mid-2016.
The plug-in SUV then proceeded to sell around 20-30 copies per month until December, when the model broke out and moved 83 units.
We had assumed we might be in for quite a pullback in January, but a still strong 52 plug-in GLE’s were sold. A result that was followed-up with 59 sales in February.
We spoke with Mercedes about its GLE 550e, and as it turns out the SUV is available only as a special request factory order (by your local dealer, or by customer order)…and is not a “stock program” (think Ford Focus EV for a handy reference as to what this means).
Normally the sales recap would not be the place to go over the particulars of what a plug-in can do – but 99.9% of readers probably didn’t even know it existed until we mentioned it, so here goes…
Price: from $65,550
Engine: 3.0 L turbo, combined with electric motor puts out 436 hp
Acceleration: 0-60 in 5.3 seconds
All electric range: 10 miles (12 blended) – 42 MPGe
/now you know
Mercedes-Benz S 550e:
When it comes to plug-in luxury, the S550 reigns supreme! Having first arrived just over a year ago, the Mercedes S550e presents a level of refinement that was (and still is) previously unseen in the EV segment for the US.
That said, top of the line luxury comes at a hefty price…and only by special order.
Late in 2016, specifically in October, the plug-in Mercedes surprised…no shocked us with its results. After setting a new all-time high in September with 41 sales, the model did 4x better in October – selling an amazing 174 copies – which is BMW i8 territory.
Things got back to normal by year’s end, with a (still very impressive) 71 sold in December, followed by a solid 55 moved in January, and 51 more in February.
Despite its huge footprint, and pretty heavy weight (just north of 5,000lbs), the electric motor and turbo 6 cylinder still manage to zip the Mercedes to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, while giving the car 24 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway.
Currently, range is rated at 12+ miles with the Prius-like “electric + gas” tag, meaning you have to drive with a certain light-footedness to get the 20 miles on just electricity. The S550 has a 8 kWh battery on board, so expect about a $4,700 federal tax credit with your purchase.
NEW for 2017: The S 550e will be getting a new, larger battery – up to 13.3 kWh (details), which should give the massive tourer about ~20 miles of real world/EPA range. The plug-in luxury car will also be the first vehicle to offer a factory-installed wireless charging option in 2017, Mercedes notes this option will be made available on all new plug-in offerings in the future.
Hyundai Sonata PHV:
The Hyundai Sonta PHV just recently crossed the ‘full year on the market’ milestone, and the results to date we would call “ok”.
For February we estimate Hyundai sold 175 Sonata plug-ins as inventory appeared to tighten this month at local dealers.
Previously in December (under much more favorable conditions), we pegged 325 sales; a recent high, but slightly off the all-time high set earlier this Summer (~375 July).
(As always, Hyundai is not keen to split out a specific number themselves, so we have to go by what rebate and dealer information there is to go on).
The Sonata PHV should likely be an even better seller in the US that it is, as the Hyundai offers an attractive mid-size PHEV value. The Hyundai has been rated at 27 miles of range and pricing starts at $34,600.
The only issue has been the company is not fully inventorying the car (not a required offering for dealers), and while it is available to order in all 50 states, you could not actually find a “live” copy to go check out at your local dealership in many of them. Hyundai typically has no more than ~300 Sonata PHVs in open stock nationally the US every month.
With $4,919 dollar worth of federal credit also on the table thanks to the car’s 9.8 kWh battery, the effective $29,681 price-point (+dst) is acceptable; however, when factored into a lease, it makes the plug-in version of Sonata almost as inexpensive as the petrol version.
Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid:
In January, Kia introduced the Optima plug-in hybrid to the US market, the first new EV offering of 2017!
Unfortunately, like its sibling Hyundai with the Sonata PHV, Kia does not care to split out plug-in sales on the plug-in Optima, choosing rather to lump all sales together (as it also does for the Soul EV).
With that said, we will do our best to estimate the sales…which really should be all that hard as Kia doesn’t stock/sell them all that well outside of California, and there is a fair amount of data to be mined to get a fairly accurate read on how things are going for the Optima PHV.
For January, very, very few Optima plug-ins arrived in the flesh for the PHEV’s debut month, and we estimate that Kia sold about 40 of them during its debut month; for February inventory more than doubled, with sales estimated at 85 units.
As for the model specifically, it offers a lot of “extras” compared to its platform-twin Sonata PHEV – and for just $600 more (from $35,210). Things like standard leather, and a more aerodynamic profile…which apparently gives it an extra couple miles EV range (29 miles) despite having the same 9.8 kWh battery. In extended range mode, the Optimate PHV gets 40 MPG.
It had been hard to get a read on the sales demand for VW’s all-electric Golf for the most part of 2016, as as sales fluctuated quite a bit.
After setting a year’s best in August (with 454 copies sold), Volkswagen improved on that number again in September, selling 529 copies, before setting back down to 407 sales in October and lower still with 305 sold in November. However, things rebounded again in December with 443 sold.
For the first month of 2017 however, sales normalized somewhat, selling 332 copies, roughly equal to the 328 moved a year ago. For February, sales were up over 40% with 293 sold.
We should note that these sales levels are relatively strong considering a recently announced range upgrade coming mid-model year for the 2017 edition (January/February) and the “January blues” effect – of which the two factors have combined to pretty much keep demand in check (and inventory’s low) until that car’s arrival.
As mentioned, some sales help is on the way, as Volkswagen will have a first mover advantage of some sort upgrading the range on today’s e-Golf.
The 2017 plug-in VW will now feature a 35.8 kWh battery, increasing range to ~124 miles and debuted at the LA Auto Show in November (details – launch gallery/video). Production of the new e-Golf gets underway in December, and we expect to start seeing some copies arrive in the US for late January/early February.
Also of interest, VW outlined its plans passed the refreshed e-Golf from the Paris Motor Show in October, stating that the all-electric I.D. will enter production in about 3 years time, and will have 400-600 km (249-373 miles) of range. (We should note that estimate was given on the optimistic Euro/NEDC scale – in term of real-world/EPA estimated miles, we would expect 180-270 miles…still a pretty big spread)
Ford C-Max Energi:
If it wasn’t for the impressive results of the Ford Fusion Energi every month, we probably would look at C-Max Energi results a lot differently.
…at least that is what we had been saying for the past ~3 years or so.
But in December, the plug-in C-Max stepped out of the Fusion’s shadow, and sold an all-time best 1,289 copies – 17% more than the Fusion Energi for the month. How would the model start 2017? By selling 473 units – which we grant you sounds like a lot less, but is actually a 35% gain over a year ago.
For February, the plug-in C-Max continued to sell well, moving 639 copies – besting all prior year’s numbers.
Thanks to December’s surge, and the BMW i3’s sales malaise over the past four months, the C-Max Energi has moved past the BMW and settles in at the 6th best selling plug-in for the US in 2016.
Despite these results, we expect that the C-Max Energi will live only as long as it takes to introduce a Ford’s new “Model E” lineup in Spring of 2019 (offering both a compact car and crossover utility vehicle).
When it comes to sales, the BMW i8 (like its cousin i3) had a rough year overall in 2016.
After a couple decent strong months in November and October (173 and 199 respectively), the BMW supercar fell back in December to 133 units, and now has plummeted to just 58 copies sold in February.
For 2016, 1,594 i8s were sold, which was off 30% from 2015 when 2,265 where moved.
Looking ahead, the inventory situation with the i8 has has continued to weaken – perhaps as a response to the winter season. In December just under ~200 units were available for sale – a year low. For January, less than 150. February? Under 100.
What’s the reason for the large drop? Perhaps a new/upgraded edition is about to break cover? That makes the most sense to us.
Also of note: More and more whispers point to the fact that the next BMW i8 will not only have a lot more power on tap (up to 750 HP), but that BMW will be offering the 2nd generation i8 as a pure electric car – perhaps in order to better compete against the likes of the new Tesla Model S P100DL.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid:
The original Panamera S e-Hybrid was never able to recover from the arrival of sister SUV, the Cayenne S e-Hybrid…which is quite frankly a superior offering when it comes to “bang for the luxury buck”.
However, for November sales bucked the trend (perhaps with the last of the inventories on the car selling to make way for the new improved version in 2017).
During November 88 were sold, exhausting supply almost completely…leaving only 3 to be sold in December, 2 copies in January – a now one in February.
Basically, the upcoming refresh now can’t come soon enough. But it is coming…in April.
The original Panamera S e-Hybrid was never able to recover from the arrival of sister SUV, the Cayenne S e-Hybrid…which is quite frankly a superior offering when it comes to “bang for the luxury buck”.
However, for November sales bucked the trend (perhaps with the last of the inventories on the car selling to make way for the new improved version in 2017). During November 88 were sold, exhausting supply…leaving only 3 to be sold in December, and 2 copies in January.
Basically, the upcoming refresh now can’t come soon enough. But it is coming…in April.
The first generation Panamera’s replacement was announced this October – the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (yes, the name is just as dreadful), then in November a “Executive” model was added to the upcoming lineup – a feature that stretches the wheelbase even further for the comfort of those who care to be chauffeured.
Good news is that it gets AWD, twice the L2 charging speed (7.2 kW vs 3.6 kW), and a 50% larger battery that gives the Porsche 31 miles/50km of NEDC/EURO range…which translates to about 25 miles in the US (up from the 16 miles found in the original).
Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid:
While the first iteration of the Panamera S E-Hybrid struggled to prove viability, the Cayenne plug-in continued to put more butts in the seats over time.
Amazingly, Porsche only strengthened plug-in SUV sales in the US in 2016, despite added pressure from the likes of the BMW X5 plug-in and Tesla Model X in the plug-in utility class.
During January, the Porsche was one of the few traditional plug-ins to sell more vehicles in January than December, as 177 were moved (vs 152 in December). The number did however regress slightly in February, but a still fairy strong 121 copies of the plug-in SUV were moved.
There has even been enough demand of late for Porsche to introduce a premium “platinum edition” of the plug-in Cayenne.
When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat has been giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.
UPDATE: After initially have some issues getting data on the plug-in Fiat, more registration and rebate data is now available. That being said, the number is estimated. Historically, the average margin of error per month has been about ~40 units in those moments when some confirmed data leaks out (usually from a recall). For 2016, the yearly estimated total was adjusted upwards (once) by approximately 500 units over the first 112 months.
For most of 2016, the Fiat 500e was a consistent performer, but over the past few month of the year things really ratcheted up – thanks to deals such as this one on Black Friday ($49/month with nothing down*), and the 500e remains the most popular compliance EV that many can buy.
Heading into 2017 sales continued to remain robust for the 500e given the limited amount of inventory (~300 units) after a strong 2nd half of 2016, we estimate ~240 copies were sold in February. Without a solid restocking program after the winter factory shutdown, we could see an extended pullback of sales numbers heading into the next couple months – but hopefully not.
BMW X5 xDrive40e:
The BMW X5 plug-in had an unexpectedly strong debut in the US in 2016…and only get stronger over the year.
In fact, the electrified X5 easily won the award for “best newcomer”for 2016, which was topped off by the all-time best 876 sales that were made in August!
Perhaps not unexpectedly, subsequent monthly sales drop off a touch while the company attempted to replenish new inventory on dealer lots, falling to around 400 copies in the months that followed.
However for December, sales started to rebound, with BMW selling 569 X5 plug-ins for the month. Thanks to the “January slowdown” effect on sales of the US federal credit, inventories grew decently during the month to around ~500+ units, but adversely affected sales, with 262 sold in the first month of 2017 and roughly the same in February at 275 sales.
Entering March inventory has improved slightly to over ~600 units.
Check out our first drive review of the 13 mile AER BMW x5 xDrive40e here.
SMART ForTwo ED:
After selling 47 cars in November, Daimler set a new 2016 low with 40 sales in December, which they followed up by selling just 15 electrified smarts in January.
So if you want to say that the 22 moved in February was a ‘bounce back’, well then, go for it.
The sales malaise (and lack of dealer stock) is likely due to the anticipation of a new, next gen offering that arrives in in early 2017 with a new look, and a slight range increase – up to 85 miles.
That new model made its US debut at the LA Auto Show in November – of which one can check out all the specs and details in our “from the show” report – here.
Also of note, in February smart decided it would NO LONGER SELL GAS CARS, making it the first traditional nameplate (who had previously sold gassers) to abandon fossil fuels. One imagines that being an all-electric only brand will only help sales as it focuses on its new offerings.
The all-time record for sales in one month was set in December of 2014 when 351 were sold. The smart Ed ended 2015 with 1,387 sold – good for the 13th on the top selling plug-ins list for America.
Ford Focus Electric:
Another month, another nap for those interested in following the sales progress of Ford’s first all-electric offering. The Ford Focus is one of the longest available electric cars on the US market – and February marked the EV’s 60th month to log sales in America, yet it never strays more than ~100 units from selling 150 copies per month. Ever.
Seriously – never more than 100. It seems almost impossible…yet there it is…the Focus Electric, selling 100ish cars month in and month out.
With that said, February the company came darn close to snapping out of that pattern with the newly upgraded (at least when it comes to range) Focus EV set to arrive, as 228 of the older model was cleared out in February.
Before February, the model had sold between 53 and 198 sales per month in 55 of the past 56 months. With just one other month passing the 200 level (August 2014 – 264)./
The 2017 edition of plug-in Focus arrives in March, and gets a new, larger 33.5 kWh battery (up from 23 kWh) and a 115 mile range rating (up from 76). Also added is standard DC fast charging (CCS). But best of all, the price actually dropped by $50 bucks too – now starting from $29,120. This upgrade should finally snap the model’s long standing sales funk.
Full details can be found here, but here is to hoping we break those eternal sales doldrums soon!
Kia SOUL EV:
Kia seems to be emulating the Focus Electric with the plug-in Soul EV…and that is not a good thing.
Having never straying far from the 100 unit mark during in its first two years on the market, Kia broke with tradition entering year three! …and sold 217 copies last September!
Ok, it was not that exciting of an accomplishment, but it was a new all-time high for the brand.
Then things fell back to normal since and a new streak of 100ish sales has begun, most recently with 152 sales in February
Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US?
A note on the Kia numbers: Kia has decided to not split out data on the Soul EV from the regular petrol version, despite several attempts by ourselves to convince them it would be a good idea to do that. As Kia is one of the OEMs we don’t have a strong relationship with, we defer to our friends at HybridCars.com to provide the sales info.
The cute-ute from Hyundai/Kia has a more than decent 93 miles of range (with more 103 miles of range in the city), and a price tag of $33,700 (full details, specs and picture can be found here). We expect the advent of the Kia Optima plug-in and the upcoming 110-mile Hyundai IONIQ Electric to signal the end of the Soul EV by 2017.