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

blue Tesla Model 3 front



The Tesla Model 3 is one of the biggest variables for 2018 EV sales (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

We’ve completed an entire month of 2018, and soon enough, we’ll know how sales will flesh out for the beginning of a new year.

Sadly, 2017 plug-in sales fell just shy of the 200,000 mark, though that’s not to say that it wasn’t an extremely impressive year as a whole. Hitting that number for 2018 will happen well before the end of the year. However, there are a huge amount of variables involved in determining where we might be by the end of this year. Will we see 300,000?

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt EV

One of the biggest variables is the Tesla Model 3. According to Tesla, the automaker could clear the “multiple hundreds of thousands” mark on its own, but that potential has yet to be proven. Keep in mind that many of those vehicles will eventually be bound for markets overseas.

We also have to consider the arrival of new models (primarily PHEVs) and make an assumption regarding how well they might be stocked, and inevitably, how well they’ll sell. Let’s not forget that strong results for one vehicle may adversely impact the sales of a competitor (point of reference: 2017 Chevrolet Volt sales following the arrival of the Toyota Prius Prime, and now the Honda Clarity PHEV).

Then there’s the all-new second-generation 2018 Nissan LEAF to consider. It’s already getting somewhat of a late start, however, once the ball is really rolling, sales should be impressive. But, “How impressive?” is the big question. We do know that pre-orders are high, but will lofty sales follow?

What will January bring for EV sales? What might it mean for the year as a whole? What questions come to mind?


The Nissan LEAF has arrived! … Well, sort of

Questions entering January 

  • The Chevrolet Volt has struggled to maintain sales now that the 238-mile Bolt EV has arrived. It has seen deliveries drop year-over-year for nine months in a row. Will strong deliveries in January end the streak?
  • On the other side of the coin, the Chevrolet Bolt EV is on a 10-month sales growth streak, will it continue into the new year?
  • Will the Tesla Model 3 prove “huge” numbers yet, or will we have to wait another month or more?
  • Will Tesla Model S and Model X sales be impacted by the rise in Model 3 deliveries?
  • Has the Nissan LEAF actually arrived, and, if so, in what kind of volume?
  • How will the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV fare in its second month (first full month) of sales?
  • Will the Toyota Prius Prime continue to impress after its strong year-end push?
  • In the continuing battle of “new 2018 offerings that disappointingly aren’t stocked so well”, who will manage to sell more – the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Volvo XC60 PHEV, Volvo S90 T8 PHEV or the new Mini Countryman Plug-In?
  • Will Honda manage to keep up with newfound demand for the Clarity PHEV and secure another significant boost, meaning it will find a new home in our recaps for next month?
  • The above question can also be asked about the Honda Clarity BEV. Will it eclipse 500 again?
  • Will BMW be able to continue its aggressive surge after its major butt-kicking in November and December? 
  • How will the Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai IONIQ PHEV fare in their initial (partial) 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 January 2018 EV sales in real-time, beginning on Thursday, February 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, February 2, 2018.

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48 Comments on "January 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?"

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“The above question can also be asked about the Honda Clarity BEV. Will it eclipse 500 again?”

Nope. None in stock.

And also the jaguar I-pace may be interesting

Not this month but this year

Another Euro point of view

I would however not expect more than a few thousands of deliveries in the US in 2018. Likely substantially less than 10K.

March 1st 2018 – sales start…as announced.

That’s when ordering opens, not deliveries. That probably won’t happen until the summer. Europe launch is first, with US getting them a few months later.

I think the Bolt EV will be the top seller for the month, but sales will obviously be down from the highs in Q4.

The Model 3 should hopefully move into the top slot by February or March at the latest.

Does anyone really expect less than 4000 M3 sales for January?

2000 TM3 if the trend continues.

For January, I think 1500-2000. 3,000+ next month. Then a huge push in March.

Just a best guess though!

Didn’t we have sales of 1700 M3s and reputedly an additional 800 produced in Dec but in the pipeline? And most of that was reputedly in the second half of Dec. If that is legit than Eltosho could get his 4K in sales. My guess is they are short of 4K. They always push harder at the end of a quarter and inventory and the pipeline are going to suck up some more of their Jan production.

The end of quarter push is not for Model 3 yet, as all are for US Sales still: none for Canada or Mexico, or overseas!

The overseas thing is what makes the variable appearance of a 3rd month in the quarter push in USA for Model S & Model X.

The end of Q push pattern exists in overall production. It is exaggerated for US sales but is not exists regardless of destination.

Per “Didn’t we have sales of 1700 M3s and reputedly an additional 800 produced in Dec” – that was produced in Q4, as reported by Elon/Tesla.

Sure, most were likely done in Dec. But not all.

Sure, most were likely done in Dec. But not all.

That’s a good point. We/I never saw a follow up on all the parking lots full of M3 stories.

I am basing my estimates on posts I am seeing by future owners around the net, such as on Tesla Motors club.

A lot of people received their configuration invitation in mid-January. And are getting delivery estimates for 4-6 weeks after that.

There were a lot of delays in December as we know. So if the delivery takes 4+ weeks from the start of production, the december delays would have continued to hamper January deliveries.

Tesla did hit some higher rates of production at the end of december, but they were brief.

But! Based on the large number of people who received configuration invitations this month, I think february or march is where sales really take off.

My guess is 2500 Model 3’s.

Just a bit less, at about 3,500 – ish. But 4,000 is Not totally impossible.

Figure something like 1st wk at 800 built, 2nd week 900 built, 3rd Wk: 1,000, 4th Wk: 1,100+! Equals 3,800+ built plus 800 in transit from Q4. So, I can see 3,000 to 3,500 deliveries is doable.

January is 4 weeks + 3 days …

If they got the production in order, they will sell more. There is no lack of customers.

If they by Feb/March don’t have control of the TM3 production – it will surprice me a lot. Now they have spent more time then some brands do on pre production testing.

It will also be critical, considering TMY is supposed to be for sale in 2020..


They did a big push at the end of the year to get as many out in 2017 (credits travel) as they could. but they didn’t maintain the final run-rate.

Tesla’s getting near to 200,000 US sales and given that battery production problems they’ll want to manage total sales so that they can extend the full tax credits another quarter.

I think the Model 3 production rate is the only real story of 2018. I want my Model 3.

I think everyone expects < 4000 for January. I estimate about 3000-3500 or so.

They held back about 1400 in December, perhaps to have a big January, perhaps due to QA issues. Tesla is about the news cycle and being #1 with Model 3 in January may be in their playbook.

Nobody expects 4000 M3 sales in January!

Model 3 sales for January: 1875

Nailed it! 😉

According to Tesla, the automaker could clear the “multiple hundreds of thousands”

Give us a break! The boy has cried wolf all too often. 🙁

When Tesla is making “Multiple Hundreds of Thousands” per year, as in 300,000+, they will still be a small OEM!

When they really hit their stride at 600,000+ per year, they will be probably be considered a ‘Mid-Sized Auto Mfg!’ If they get that in the bag by 2019, that will be fine!

Can they beat 1 Million a year Sold by 2020?

Proshe is selling about 250,000 cars a year. 300,000 is a really decent number in the premium segment.

Maybe look up the meaning of the word “could” 🙂

I don’t think you understand the concept of “crying wolf.” Tesla has always delivered, just not on the schedules it promises (and while it’s easy to fault them for over-promising, it’s kind of a necessary evil when you are publicly owned). Crying wolf is about failure to deliver.

Let’s not forget that strong results for one vehicle may adversely impact the sales of a competitor (point of reference: 2017 Chevrolet Volt sales following the arrival of the Toyota Prius Prime, and now the Honda Clarity PHEV).

The others may be cutting into Volt sales, but they’re still growing the overall market. The Volt and PP had about 40k total deliveries last year, which is well above the highest number of Volts that were ever delivered in a single year. With a whole slew of viable contenders now, the Volt likely will have a hard time returning to those highs (unless GM massages the MSRP) due to competition from the others, but the overall increase will continue to be beneficial.

Because GM now has the Bolt, that’s where they put the large incentives so they won’t sell and lease as many Volts.

The monthly scorecard is getting ungainly. What’s the chance you could start 2018 by splitting it into two lists: a BEV or “Fossil Free” list and a separate PHEV list?

If not, could you at least make it easier to differentiate among the different types?


Good idea!

The “Individual Plug-In Model Sales Recap” section is also not very useful IMHO. I think it should be removed…

Good idea.

Why not do this:

BEV sales:
model i
model ii

BEV Total

PHEV sales:
model i
model ii

PHEV Total
Plug-in Total


Inventories of most plugin models are still very low after the end of year sell off. I expect sales of most models with possible exceptions of the Outlander and Clarity to be low. I expect year over year sales to be higher but I think that’ Primary due to new Models.

Jean-François Morissette

Yup, although I expect a big year, it will still depend only on a few models: Tesla Model 3, the new LEAF, the Outlander PHEV, and maybe the Clarity PHEV. As well as maybe the growth from some important recent models (Bolt, Pacifica, Prime).

The introduction of many more minor models will probably just offset the decline of older ones.

In the end, it point out that we still need more choices, more categories to get some growth.

I’m expecting big numbers from Tesla, a negative news story from the Woz and a leaked news article on quality issues makes me think things have shifted up a gear. Not sure though, We might have bad press all quarter before the big ta da! Moment when everything is fixed.

Estimating a doubling in 2018 to at least 400,000 sold units. There are just too many good plug-ins out there. Gas prices are going up as well. The only limiting factor is production. This should get national mainstream media attention..

I just bought a Kia Niro PHEV. It was tough to find, and the first dealer I talked to said they wouldn’t bring it in without a pre order at full MSRP. Luckily I found a dealer within 60 miles that had it in stock and was more customer oriented. Love the Niro, easily hits my goal of my round trip work commute on EV only, around 24 miles. Even in the midwest miserable cold weather.

Does it have battery-sourced heat? I had thought it didn’t.

No, the gas engine runs long enough to warm up the radiator / heat exchanger, then turns off, and that cycles. The bonus while the engine runs (seems like it is idling as there is no tach in my model) they also send charge to the battery. Seems like a pretty effective way to warm up the cabin without draining the small 8.9KWh battery.

Tesla told analysts a couple weeks ago they would hit 1000/week by the end of January. Estimates are 600/week early in the month. Cars in transit should grow along with production, so I expect January to be:

3000 produced
2800 delivered

My 2018 guess for US: 330,000.

Problem is there are none in stock. I waited two years for a Outlander PHEV preorder. Gave up and tried to buy a Bolt, again none available in Canada. Decided on a preorder for an IONIQ BEV
been waiting since September, told might get it in May/June.

Checked out preordering a new Leaf2 was told it is sold out for all of 2018 in Canada.

Problem is availability not sales, at least in Ontario Canada.

. . . so for every 300 million EVs sold, the CO2 emissions will be reduced by 1%. ..