February 2019 U.S. EV Sales Low: Tesla Model 3 Saves With Dominance


We report the best February ever for U.S. EV sales, but it was a close call.

Based on automakers’ sales reports and our estimates, we report a total of 17,239 plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in February, compared to last year’s 16,845 and last month’s 17,040. The number may be a bit higher since we’re still unable to secure sales data for the new Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid (plug-in). Moreover, keep in mind that we are now somewhat in the dark regarding GM and Tesla estimates with the new year and current situations. Bear with us as we work hard to get more information.

As expected, the year is off to a slow start for EV sales. If it wasn’t for massive year-over-year Tesla Model 3 sales growth and the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and Tesla Model X dialing up deliveries compared to last year, we may not be reporting an increase. As the year moves on, we expect sales results to ramp up significantly.

We do know that Tesla is focusing all Model 3 production for overseas markets, so healthy U.S. delivery numbers this February (5,750) are impressive once again compared to last year’s 2,485. As the situation levels out, we should see U.S. Model 3 deliveries rise. Much like the Model S and Model X, Tesla will focus Model 3 production efforts more on the U.S. market as the quarter wears on.

In addition, Tesla announced the launch of its $35,000 Standard Model 3 last week, which will only be sold in the U.S. initially. With its two- to four-week delivery estimates, we may see many of those vehicles in owners’ hands by the end of the quarter. However, we feel that the first quarter will remain somewhat low, as it’s a huge task to shift deliveries to foreign markets and begin U.S. production of a new variant. Still, in comparison to Q1 of 2018, Tesla’s sales growth is monumental already.

The automaker sold a whopping 8,325 EVs in January 2019 based on our estimates. Last January, that number came in at just 3,375. To put it in perspective, Tesla sales in January 2019 accounted for nearly half of all plug in sales (17,040) in the U.S.

The trend continues in February 2019, with 7,650 Teslas delivered, compared to last February’s 4,585. Based on our research, so far, Tesla’s Q1 U.S. deliveries are ahead of last year by an impressive 8,690 units. Once again, the automaker’s U.S. sales make up close to half of all plug in sales on our shores.

No matter how you look at it, naysayers will have a very difficult time spinning the above information. Tesla continues to make incredible strides when it comes to U.S. EV sales. As anyone can clearly see, month-over-month sales are not a metric that paints the true picture. This is precisely the reason all other automakers report year-over-year gains or losses, in addition to why several automakers are moving to quarterly sales reports.

Honda made notable strides in 2018 with its Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. It outsold its number one rival — the Toyota Prius Prime — in October and December. January brought another win for the Clarity PHEV, and now it appears February proves the same. Honda sold 1,213 Clarity Plug-In Hybrids in January. Sadly, Toyota has decided to stop reporting Pruis model splits, so we only have an estimate of Primes delivered. According to our research, Toyota sold 1,205 Primes in the U.S. in February.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV was the only other plug-in model to eclipse the 1,000-mark last month, with a respectable (estimated) 1,225 deliveries. Sadly, many other models are down even further than anticipated.

With that being said, which month this year will be the first to join our top five list? Let us know your guess in the comment section.

Top Months for U.S. EV Sales to Date (estimated):

  1. December 2018 – 49,900
  2. September 2018 – 44,544
  3. November 2018 – 42,588
  4. August 2018 – 36,347
  5. October 2018 – 34,074

We’ll close out the month with the usual final data points and another look at our completed sales chart.

Other Statistical Points of Interest from February 2019

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* – 7,650
  2. General Motors* – 1,841
  3. Honda – 1,213
  4. Toyota* – 1,205
  5. BMW Group – 1,110

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In February*

  1. BEV – 10,229
  2. PHEV – 7,010

*Based on estimates due to the lack of U.S. monthly sales reporting by Tesla and GM, as well as Toyota Prius (Prime) and BMW i3 (BEV + REx) splits, and multiple automakers refusing to provide information related to individual EV sales.

Tesla Model 36500575012,250
Honda Clarity PHEV119212132,405
Toyota Prius Prime*112312052,328
Chevrolet Bolt EV92512252,150
Tesla Model X95011002,050
Tesla Model S8758001,675
Nissan LEAF  7176541,371
Chevrolet Volt*6756151,290
Ford Fusion Energi5575731,130
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid**4365891,025
BMW 530e*376414790
Kia Niro PHEV*279505784
BMW i3 (BEV + REx)  255350605
BMW 330e*216185401
Jaguar I-Pace  210186396
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron*175210385
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid*150160310
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV133157290
Mercedes C350e*140145285
Volkswagen e-Golf  164118282
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV*95105200
Volvo XC60 PHEV*90100190
Mercedes GLE 550e*9295187
Porsche Cayenne S-E*6595160
Fiat 500e**  7287159
Mercedes GLC 350e*7472146
Honda Clarity BEV  7868146
smart ED  8358141
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV*7354127
Mini Countryman SE PHEV*5063113
BMWX5 xDrive 40e*7138109
Volvo S90 T8 PHEV*354580
Hyundai Sonata PHEV*47175
BMW i8234770
Hyundai IONIQ EV343266
Kia Optima PHEV*301141
BMW 740e*61420
Mercedes S550e*81018
Hyundai Kona Electric*01616
Cadillac CT6 PHEV*819
Mercedes B250e  123
Kia Soul EV011
Ford C-Max Energi000
Ford Focus Electric  000
2019 U.S. Sales Totals17,04017,239000000000034,279
2018 U.S. Sales Totals12,00916,84526,44319,62324,30725,02929,59836,34744,54434,07442,58849,900361,307
2019 Worldwide Sales*
2018 Worldwide Sales*82,00081,000141,000128,450159,346160,894144,975175,362206,500214,800237,553286,3672,018,247

Above – 2019 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers. *Estimated Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Monthly or Quarterly Totals. ** Estimated (Based on State/Rebate Data and other reports). BEV models are designated with the icon.

Categories: Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, Sales, Tesla, Toyota

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45 Comments on "February 2019 U.S. EV Sales Low: Tesla Model 3 Saves With Dominance"

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I like the format of the chart! It makes it nice and clear what the overall numbers are in comparison to previous months. The battery icon is a nice touch.

Seems like the streak of YOY increases may be in danger in March. Being the last month of a quarter Tesla May increase by 8k but would need help from others to match March 2018. The Last month of the full federal incentive for the Bolt May help but may not be enough.

Wow! I was one of 16 people in the whole USA to get my hands on a Kona in February! I wonder how many others were sold in MD. I know NJ sold a few too.

Congratulations! I hope you have many years of happy motoring with your new car. 🙂

So do you like it?

What did one have to do to get one of the 16 Kona’s?

Production of the Ford C-Max Energi ended 17 months ago, and not a single unit has been sold in the past 5 months. At what point do you simply remove them from the table?

Ford Focus Electric also hasn’t been produced in 10 months, and it’s been 2 months since it last had a sale.

Seems like it’s time to just remove those two models from the table…

There are still four new C-Max Energis listed on AutoTrader…

Could be the odd straggler in the back of some dealer lot waiting to be sold, or maybe a demo being driven by a salesperson – not worth tracking them.

Why not go one step further and remove all of the models where the manufacturer isn’t really trying at all – say run rate less than 1000/yr. Why give them any credit?

That’s too harsh. Just remove the models that aren’t sold anymore.

As long as we’re throwing out requests. How about a separate listing for buses and one for commercial vehicles.

My guess is that 35K plug-ins will be sold in March.

Let’s hope so. I hope the tax increases are not cutting into sales.

Sad the increase was so small but at least it is still bigger than last year I assure next February will have a bigger increase(cause there is 29 days :P).

Obviously Model 3 being diverted to Europe isn’t helping US sales, but regardless I was hoping for a better showing from the other automakers.

They sell every model 3 ordered in America. That’s all that was ordered.

No, Tesla backs off on domestic production early in every quarter in order to get most of the quarter’s global units on ships and into customer’s hands so that they can be counted as sales at the end of the quarter. If you look at Tesla’s monthly sales data from about 2014 onwards, you will see this trend stand out plain as day.

Impressive sales for model 3 in the US. The growth is just out of this world, to make things better the new cheaper variant will make it even bigger.

They sold tens of thousands last December? These numbers are awful?

No no, the number is amazing, read the article, there’s no way of spinning these numbers as negative.
Over 20k in December, 6.5k in January and now 5.7k…

Alex… Being satirical I’m sure. I agree the U.S. numbers are troubling – no negative spin required. Comparing February 2019 to February 2018 is valid normally – but not for a Tesla that was in the early stages of Model 3 “production hell” with the current Tesla.

Tesla needs to focus on international sales growth – especially China. The U.S. is entering a phase where they will lag the industrialized world in EV sales – so U.S. sales are going to level off beginning this year. The rest of the world will grow quickly – the US will not. They cannot build the Chinese factory soon enough.

Gee, let’s see… total US sales of all plugins is 34k. Total Tesla sales is 16k. So, Tesla vehicles made up almost 50% of the total plugin sales so far in 2019. Yep, they’ll be bankrupt any minute… there’s no demand… end of the world…

No, this is a normal quarterly pattern for Tesla. There are many thousands on ships to global markets. There is absolutely no reason to panic whatsoever. Domestic March sales will be in the vicinity of 36k, at least. If about 20k or less, then it might be time to question demand.

You also have to bear in mind that the December push was a one-time situation, where the tax credit would be cut in half if you didn’t take delivery by 12/31. I expect an above-average spike in June 2019 and December 2019, when the tax credit halves again, then goes to zero, respectively.

December 2018 EV sales are NOT a reasonable datapoint from which to extrapolate future expectations.

Cumulative US sales of Model-3
2017: 4,975
2018: 139,782
2019: 12,250
Total: 157,007

Probably it has overtaken Model-S sales and is behind Volt.
2.3% YoY increase and this is probably the lowest increase. What took Ford so long to report on just 1 model.
If they sold out all Focus-EV and CMax-Plugin, then those 2 entries can be removed. Why sitting there with 0 sales.

Meanwhile paying $35,000 for a Model-3 that goes 220 miles is much better than paying $44,000 for BMW i3 that goes 150 miles.
And Model-3 can seat 1 extra passenger than i3. So how will i3 compete now.

Maybe i3 Brand Loyalty? Lack of (Competing) Information? More advertising? Better Cash Discount offers?

Leasing deals. REX Engine. City parking. And comfortable sports sprinter ride character.

The BMW has a lot nicer styling.

Maybe baught by BMW dealerships, for clients waiting for their ICE car to be serviced. It would explain so many i3 are needed 😉

BEVs beat PHEV handsomely and thats nice to see.

March 2019 will be a return to the the top 5. Domestic Model 3 numbers will be huge.

The real news here is that someone found a new B250e to register!

As desperate as Linux vs Windows on desktop.

Tesla sale have dropped 400%. I can see why they are making so many desperate moves. They need to make BETTER cars and offer BETTER service for that amount of money.

What you don’t see is all of the Model 3s being diverted out of the US market to International markets for the past few months.

If Tesla sales dropped to zero, that would be 100% drop. Don’t know how they dropped 400%. Production is being diverted to Europe and China. It’s not like they are slowing down the production line.

Not very inspiring sales at all for any models. Home sales are really down as well as gas car sales. Everyone is saving up to pay their extra taxes.

I see a lot of resentment brewing in the USA. Only 1% can afford EVs and 90% is starting to resent that fact. We need millions of inexpensive EVs that the masses can afford. It only takes one signature to regulate EVs out of existence. Vote blue. If you tell someone driving a $700 Ford Exploder they can get a used EV for as little as $5000 you might as well be trying to sell them a ticket on Space X.

The average new vehicle purchase price is now above $30k in the USA, so I don’t buy the ‘only 1% can afford EVs’ argument. A Tesla can now be purchased for around (or even below) the average new vehicle price (after federal and state tax incentives). Tesla is addressing this concern.

Maybe for Fox News desciples, perhaps, there is resentment brewing, but for the rest of us with some sense, we know that the perception you outline is not accurate at all.

Are there any figures for overall EV sales internationally? I am curious at the relationship of the overall Tesla production numbers in relationship to US sales. The drop of after exportation to Europe and China began was dramatic in the US sales numbers. Are the lower US numbers for the 3 representative of a drop in US demand as well and hence the introduction of the 35K 3 – The stock market seems to view it that way while most of us understand that a large number of cars a now being diverted to international markets.

Please don’t forget: There was a rush at the end of 2018 to get the full $7500 federal tax credit – so it made sense to order in time to take delivery in 2018 if you were a potential buyer ‘on the fence’ in the 4th quarter. Plus, many folks want to buy EVs at the end of the year to get the tax benefit sooner – without waiting up to a year or more.

so do you know where the federal tax credits are for the 3 is it 3500 or are they all expired?

Exactly – Dec.2018 was a one-time, historic moment. There will be smaller relative spikes in June and December of this year, for the same reasons, but December 2018 is not a normal datapoint suitable for extrapolation.

No. Look at Tesla sales going back to 2014 and earlier. Domestic sales always dramatically outperform on the 3rd month of the quarter due to diverting substantial production overseas early in the quarter. That way, hopefully all those vehicles will reach their owner’s hands in time to be counted as sales in that same quarter. Ever since Tesla went public, and ever since Tesla started shipping globally, this has been what they have always done.

It is waaay too soon to freak out over Model 3 demand, domestically or globally. If domestic March sales falls under about 25k or 20k, then it’s time to turn a skeptical eye. For now, everything is cool.

Do we know if Subaru as actually sold any Crosstrek Hybrids? I’ve contacted a couple dealerships in CA with no luck and the dealers did not sound optimistic about getting one.