February 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?

Red Tesla Model 3 LA Auto Show

MAR 1 2018 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 31

We’ve completed yet another month of 2018, and soon enough, we’ll know just how plug-in sales panned out, along with a better forecast of the year ahead.

January got off to a slow (and a bit scary) start, but deliveries were still higher than that of 2017. For February, we should begin to see better results, especially since Tesla Model 3 production is ramping up and 2018 Nissan LEAF stock is growing (although it will likely be one more month before we see notable LEAF numbers and it seems Tesla Model 3 production is hitting some shaky ground as of late). New offerings like the Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai IONIQ PHEV are entering their first full month of sales, and others, like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Honda Clarity PHEV have had a few months to settle in.

Last Month’s Results – January 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

White 2018 Nissan LEAF driving

2018 Nissan LEAF

While 2017 plug-in sales fell just shy of the 200,000 mark, it was still an extremely impressive year as a whole. Hitting that mark for 2018 should happen well before the end of the year. However, there are several variables involved in determining where we might be by the end of this year. Will we see 300,000?

Be on the lookout for our upcoming 2018 yearly sales prediction post coming soon, compliments of contributor Josh Bryant.

The biggest variable is the Tesla Model 3. If you asked Tesla, the automaker would tell you it could clear the “multiple hundreds of thousands” mark on its own, but that potential has yet to be proven. Model 3 production guidance has been continually missed and pushed back, and now, the automaker is struggling to fill a multitude of Model S and X orders, along with potential ongoing Model 3 production problems.

Many of you have asked … What’s the situation with the all-new second-generation 2018 Nissan LEAFFortunately, it has arrived and is now being stocked nationwide. Unfortunately, inventory is small, and many of these first vehicles are already spoken for. A Nissan dealership rep told us that another larger round of vehicles will be arriving in the coming weeks and will be more widely available. So, it looks like it will be March before LEAF sales begin more respectable upward momentum. Let’s hope February brings a pleasant surprise, but it’s unlikely.

Then, there’s the story of Chevrolet’s plug-in siblings, the Volt and Bolt, neither of which had a stellar January. We can expect the Volt’s downfall to continue, but how low can it go? The Bolt didn’t fare terribly in January. In fact, sales were up a touch from last year, but it could have been so much more promising. We can only cross our fingers that February begins forward momentum.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt driving

Will the Chevrolet Bolt step back up to the plate this month?

With January a bit on the scary side, what will February bring? What confidence might it secure for the year as a whole? What questions come to mind?

Questions entering February:

  • Now that the all-new 2018 Nissan LEAF has arrived, has inventory grown enough to spawn decent sales numbers?
  • After the Chevrolet Bolt’s somewhat weak showing in January, will it redeem itself this month?
  • The Chevrolet Volt continues to struggle to maintain sales now that the Bolt EV and a handful of PHEV rivals have arrived. It has seen deliveries drop year-over-year for ten months in a row. Will strong sales in February finally end this streak?
  • Will the Tesla Model 3 prove more sales growth and stay at the top of our scorecard for the second month in a row, despite potential production concerns?
  • How much will Tesla Model S and Model X sales be impacted by the continued rise in Model 3 deliveries? Musk says orders are very strong. Will this make a difference?
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales tripled from its first U.S. sales month to January. Will we see such continued growth into February?
  • Will the Toyota Prius Prime continue to impress?
  • In the continuing battle of “new 2018 offerings that disappointingly aren’t stocked so well”, which will manage to come out on top – the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Volvo XC60 PHEV, Volvo S90 T8 PHEV or the Mini Countryman Plug-In?
  • Will Honda manage to boost inventory for the Clarity PHEV and secure a more significant sales boost than was reported in January, meaning it may find a new home in our recaps for next month?
  • How will the Honda Clarity BEV fare?
  • We’ve removed the VW e-Golf from our recaps due to weak sales. Sales dropped again in January. Will this month sing a familiar tune?
  • How will the Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai IONIQ PHEV perform in their first full month of U.S. sales?

Stay tuned over the course of the next few days for the answers to these questions and many more, as we report February 2018 EV sales in real-time, beginning on Thursday, March 1, 2018, with the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Bolt/Volt sales at 6:30-7:30 AM PT (9:30-10:30 AM ET), and finishing with Ford and BMW’s plug-in data on the afternoon of Friday, March 2, 2018.

Categories: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

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31 Comments on "February 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?"

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Verch
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Verch

Last chance for the Bolt to climb back to the top?

Paul
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Paul

No, Model 3 is on its way to 10 times the volume.

WadeTyhon
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WadeTyhon

Nah, not much chance of that. Model 3 should (hopefully) be creeping up on 3,000 this month.

There were not enough Bolt EVs in inventory to beat the Model 3 this month. Best case scenerio for the Bolt should be about 1,500 or 1,600 this month. Probably a little less.

Nix
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Nix

It definitely is the very last chance, as GM’s window of opportunity is closing to capitalize on Tesla’s delayed ramp-up.

Seven Electrics
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Seven Electrics

For your statement to be true, Model 3 production would have had to increase substantially in February. My bet is that it did not, but we’ll see!

Ziv
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Ziv

If Tesla is going to avoid selling the 200,000th US sales vehicle in June, and thereby lose the credit 3 months earlier than otherwise, they need the 3 to ramp up slowly. Tesla needs to sell the 200k’th car in early July to gain an extra 3 months of full credit, so you can bet that the 3 sales in the US will rise slowly over the next 5 months.
Tesla has sold 165,000 cars in the US, so they only have 34,990 left to sell until the end of June. They sell around 5,000 S and X models a month (if you average out the ups and downs over the past couple quarters) in the US. Do they push S and X sales abroad? Or do they slow the ramp up of 3 sales? I would guess that they do both. Getting the full credit for the rest of 2018 and the half credit for the first half of 2019 would be a huge gain for Tesla.

Bonaire
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Bonaire

All they need to do is help European and Asian “first-day” Model3 reservationists get theirs in Q2. Make-em and ship-em. Just make sure they don’t need to re-engineer any parts and the first 8000 or so in the USA will do that. They can just about stop delivery of Model 3 in the USA and still deliver thousands in other countries in Q2

Roy_H
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Roy_H

+1

We will all be keeping a sharp look-out for sales to Canada and Europe! Although some Americans will be disappointed in not getting their Model 3 until July, it will mean that all first week reservation holders will qualify for the full tax refund. And hopefully many more.

Ziv
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Ziv

Bonaire, I think you and Roy are right. The Canadian and European reservation holders are going to see their deliveries move up just a bit earlier than they otherwise would have seen. 3 deliveries in the US will probably not exceed 3,000 per month while, possibly, S and X deliveries in the US might taper off just a bit over the next couple months. Coincidentally, the Canadian and European deliveries may go up by a similar amount.
With the 3 numbers building, Bolt prices holding at around $32k and the Leaf inventory rising, this year will be an interesting three way race for the $30k-$50k BEV market.

scottf200
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scottf200

Yes, last chance. Lot of competition and brand loyalty (to many brands). Example, I can’t believe the loyalty to LEAF after the GEN 1 battery issues and how they treated their customers but there are a bunch of brand loyal owners and they are cranking them out all over the world so lots of testing and validation.

bro1999
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The Bolt doesn’t need to climb back to the top. Sales will probably not increase too much over last year’s number. Once 2020/2021 come and GM’s next gen BEVs (that are actually profitable) are launched, look out!

Bonaire
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Bonaire

Everyone acts like there will be “one winner” and that isn’t a healthy way to build a wide-spread marketplace. Single-sourcing anything in a business world is fairly dangerous.

jelloslug
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jelloslug

Just around the corner!

Ziv
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Ziv

Bro, have you heard any word on when the possible Buick CUV (possibly built on the Bolt platform) might show up? I am still hoping late this year, but I haven’t seen anything of late. If Buick can build a CUV with at least 200 miles of AER and keep the price under $45k (preferably under $40k but…) by late this year, they could have a hit on their hands.
But if it doesn’t turn up until late 2019 and it is over $45k, they may be too late with an overpriced, under-ranged product.

Nix
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Nix

Prediction: The volume of grumbling and hand-wringing over the best selling EV’s in the United States will continue. As if there were some deep problem with “only” building and selling the more EV’s than any other company in the US.

Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

Presumably you’re talking about Tesla’s production?

Well, it’s a pretty easy “prediction” to make that the serial Tesla bashers will keep changing their tune to match latest events, as they always do. No matter what happens, they’ll figure out some way to twist the latest facts and latest news into something negative, in their ongoing attempt to tear down the good name of Tesla Inc. They’ll do it even if their latest FUD directly contradicts the FUD they put out last month!

Currently, I think the most eye-rolling claim from FUDsters is that Tesla’s failure to get the automated battery pack assembly line(s) at Gigafactory One operating on time, was all part of some pre-planned nefarious scheme by Tesla to get everyone excited about the Model 3 rollout some months before Tesla was actually ready to start full-scale production.

Because sure, it was Tesla’s evil plan from the start to fall on its face and embarrass itself by such a huge failure and several months of delay. NYA HA HA HA HA! 🙄

(Hopefully the “sarcasm” tag isn’t needed here, but you never know…)

Tesla Hater cultists apparently confuse Elon Musk with…

comment image

R.S
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R.S

I am neither a hater, nor a FUDster, but I do think they gave out overly optimistic predictions, knowing fully well they won’t keep them.

I mean the car’s software isn’t even done yet, rear heating seats are still missing, despite being built in. And there are still several small issues that are being worked out.

That’s ok, since right now only the early adopters have their cars. The mass market customers will want to have a finished UI.

Why did they do it? Because it’s easier to always wait 3 months longer, than being told to wait a year longer, once.

BUT I do think we are close to finished now. The invitations already have gone out to non owners. And that’s the important thing.

Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu
“I am neither a hater, nor a FUDster, but I do think they gave out overly optimistic predictions, knowing fully well they won’t keep them.” I think it’s safe to say that Tesla did not spend billions of dollars towards building out Gigafactory One, nor buy a German auto parts maker months earlier than they wound up needing to, while “knowing fully well” that they would have several months of delay between June-December 2017. To suggest Tesla did this as part of a “plan”… well, you’d have to believe those in charge of Tesla were either insane or deeply stupid. I think Elon has established a pretty clear pattern of being overly optimistic and ignoring practical limitations, starting back when he was just the investment manager at Tesla, even before he took over the company. But I don’t believe he’s either insane or stupid. “I mean the car’s software isn’t even done yet, rear heating seats are still missing, despite being built in. And there are still several small issues that are being worked out.” I think Tesla doesn’t ever consider a car’s software as being “finished” at any point. It’s always a work in progress, with more upgrades coming.… Read more »
bro1999
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That’s the “beauty” of the way Tesla advertises their UI. Instead of calling it “unfinished” like it really is, they can say it’s “evolving with regular updates”. Tesla is very good at spinning the truth. I still think Sean Spicer is a consultant for them after he left the WH. 🙂

Mark Hegg
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Mark Hegg

The constant harping that any negative view of Tesla’s position is ‘hating’ and no other company can match Tesla’s ‘vision’ is simply emotional nonsense. The numbers are the ONLY thing that matters! If Tesla pulls it out it will be decided by the numbers. Right now there’s no argument that the numbers aren’t on Tesla’s side. If they pull it out the numbers will show it – and right now there’s no argument that it is accumulating fast. What ever someone thinks about Tesla pulling it out – doesn’t matter compared to the numbers. There’s no doubt that low initial production means costs rise due to more borrowing. Period. Either Tesla changes the numbers significantly or they don’t. If that hurts somebody’s feelings is absolutely irrelevant! End of story. Get over it! You don’t matter in this equation!

Bonaire
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Bonaire

Someone gives such wilds predictions in order to prepare road-shows in order to then get lots of financing money from wall street on the back of the stories. That’s what you do. If you don’t meet those measures, they are sometimes “long forgotten” and other times “considered fully” on the next round of finance talks. It may be why they went to this Trucks situation in Q4 of 2017 where you cannot show any prior history regarding it but now have deposits from known-companies so there is new reason to get wall street money for some new capital expenditure to make the trucks. However, in past finance raises, they used the money for operations rather than primarily for the thing they got the money for. The GF1 money from Feb 2014 was long gone and the GF1 is only at 30% of the stated 10 Million sq ft floor space designed right now.

Seven Electrics
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Seven Electrics

Ironically, you are the most negative person on this site, by far. You basically troll yourself.

Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

I’m quite happy of being accused of trolling by people who actually are trolls. So, thank you for the compliment.

Judge a man by the reputation of his enemies. — Arabian proverb

Scott Franco
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Scott Franco

In silicon valley, I am seeing more M3s on simple commuting, which tends to indicate they are not just doing demo drives.

Chevrolet is really odd. I went in for the one year service on my Bolt, and looked around for other Bolts. Plenty of them in service bay and behind the dealership. Gone was the Bolt from the showroom floor. In the front for show/sale there were three of them in the corner side by side.

I see more and more Bolts on the street here. I think Chevrolet has decided that people who buy the Bolt knew what they wanted when they came on the lot, so why bother to work at selling them.

Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

Well, if GM isn’t ramping up production on the Bolt EV any at all, which is my understanding, then there seems little point in advertising the car. They can’t sell any more of them than the rather low volume (as compared to GM gasmobiles) they’re making. If demand for the car already matches or exceeds supply, why bother advertising at all?

SparkEV
Guest

“people who buy the Bolt knew what they wanted when they came on the lot”

This was true when I got SparkEV, and I barely did couple of hours of internet research. Of course, my engineering background allowed me to understand things lot better. Typically, people who get Bolts are technical crowd almost like Sheldon Cooper while car sales people are like, ummm, not as much.

ziv
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ziv

When I went to Koons Tysons last year, they had the bright orange Bolt in the big window, with the new Corvette behind it and partially out of sight. I have to go back and see what is up front now that the Bolt isn’t the new kid on the block.
The funny thing was that even though they are marginally savvy about electric cars, they admitted to ordering exactly half the Bolts with the DCFC option. They simply didn’t have a clue if it was going to popular or not.

Threader
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Threader

We can’t get enough Bolts outside of USA. GM clearly doesn’t want to make more than 30,000 a year. I see no proof other wise.

Spoonman.
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Spoonman.

Honda and Mitsubishi seem to be stocking their new (to USA) PHEVs very thoroughly. I live in something of a backwater in Pennsylvania, so if I see a lot of a model here, I figure it is truly available nationwide.

The Honda dealership on the nearby “auto mile” (Lehigh Street if you know Allentown) has seven Clarities, and the Mitsubishi store across the street stocked 3 Outlander PHEVs until apparently selling one recently. I think Honda needs to offer some incentives to move Clarities at the rate they’re stocking them, at least including the tax credit in a lease.

One of the Outlanders was bright red, displayed at the most prominent corner of the dealership, with extra “PHEV” decals on the doors.

So, I’m optimistic about Outlander and Clarity PHEV sales this month.

Meanwhile the Chevrolet dealership is still sitting on a 2017 Bolt Premier without DCFC. The Volvo dealership has moved one each of the XC60 and XC90 hybrids, leaving an S90 hybrid waiting.

Will
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Will

I thought the dealers were train on the bolts but order the ones without the fast charge. If i was the owners of dealers i would have fire myself or the gm that order those cars

ziv
Guest
ziv

Bolt deliveries came in at 1424 and the Volt at 983. Not outstanding numbers.
Here is hoping that the 3 is up and the Leaf is building up nicely.