January EV Sales Rise 70% In US, As Chevrolet Bolt EV, Volt and Toyota Prius Prime Soar

FEB 3 2017 BY JAY COLE 85

The Chevrolet Volt showed that it is still a force to be reckoned with in January, eclipsing all-time sales records for the month!

January is supposed to be the weakest and hardest month of the year in the US to sell plug-in vehicles.

Apparently someone forgot to tell that to GM and Toyota.

Despite still being production-limited from Japan, the new Toyota Prius Prime let it be known it would be competing for “Plug-In Sales Crown” For 2017 In America

Heading into the first month of 2017, the best result any one model had ever accomplish during January historically was 1,252 sales (achieved by the Nissan LEAF in 2014), but that changed in 2017 as two models bested the number…one by a lot, while a 3rd offering just missed the old benchmark.

For the month, an estimated 10,615 plug-ins where sold, good for an impressive gain of 70.6% from the ~6,221 moved in 2016.

If one was to apply that gain to every month in 2017, we would see a year end total of some 271,000 EVs sold in America (vs 159k sold in 2016).  Here’s hoping!

Leading the way was GM’s original plug-in vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt with 1,611 sales – a 62% improvement over 2016’s result, and almost 30% better than the former January record holder.

Not to be outdone, two newcomers finished in 2nd and 3rd place:

  • Toyota Prius Prime – 1,366 sales (which also represented almost 20% of overall Prius sales)
  • Chevrolet Bolt EV – 1,162 sales in its first full month on the market

Graph below: A look at the sales by model for each plug-in offering in the US (for a more details model-by-model look at the numbers, check out our full January sales recap here):

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from January 2017

The Chevrolet Bolt EV sold almost 1,200 copies in its first full month of availability in January

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. General Motors – 2,778
  2. Tesla Motors – 1,650
  3. Toyota – 1,366
  4. Ford – 1,135
  5. VW Group – 898
  6. BMW – 841
  7. Nissan – 772

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In January*

  1. PHEV – 5,857 – 55.2%
  2. BEV – 4,758 -44.8%

(*) estimated

The full monthly recap by individual plug-in (all-time) can be found on our Monthly Scorecard here.

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

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85 Comments on "January EV Sales Rise 70% In US, As Chevrolet Bolt EV, Volt and Toyota Prius Prime Soar"

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David Murray

Wow.. The landscape is definitely going to change this year, especially in the top 5 selling models.


Yeah, the top selling 5 models pure EV list will be hard to predict in order for the year end results. The Bolt looks to be tough to beat!


Don’t forget the Model 3 coming in 2H of the year. Will know more on Feb 8th when Tesla gives us numbers for 2017.. I expect Model 3 to be in the top five if not in the top spot.


“Don’t forget the Model 3 coming in 2H of the year”

Well, if you (still) believe in Elon Musk deadlines and predictions.

Tesla so far kept few of those, same for ramp-ups.

The Model3 could be delayed well into 2018 for meaningful volume shipments…


I will be thoroughly impressed if Tesla can deliver even 5,000 Model 3s this year. Seriously doubt it will be top 5.


Does this mean that we have seen the last month of EV sales below 10k?
How the standings will be is very hard to say already but I do expect to see some changes this year, will be exciting to see how it turns out.


It’s easy to think the Bolt and Prius Prime numbers could be higher due to pent up demand, but the Volt’s surge is a bit surprising. Indeed, it is at least conceivable that some folks might be pulled in by the Bolt EV and then switch to the Volt once they get to evaluate both. Who knows?


GM have significantly increased Volt inventory the last two months.


Actually DHAM is coming off of a 3 week shutdown which has hurt Volt inventory (some of the other cars made at DHAM have not been selling well).


Nero, I am not sure how accurate Cars dot com is, but they have had the Volt at 5220 to 5260 for a couple weeks. Maybe Chevy slowly shipped Volts off the lot?
And the Bolt and the Prime have had rising inventory at just about the same rate. Right now there are 950 Bolts and 975 Primes.


Prime inventory is limited to both coasts still. In the middle of the country, supply doesn’t exist yet.


So the Prime had 7 or 8 states to sell in last month and the Bolt had just 2 states. And I found Primes in nearly every state between MA and Virginia, so Primes may actually be in more than 8 states.

By late this month the Bolt will be up to 5 states.



The Prime is apparently available only in a limited area of Virginia (possibly only DC area). A dealer in SW Va. told an acquaintance of mine that Toyota won’t let them sell it.


Expect that is the case.

Customer excited about the Bolt, go in drive it, like it, then get cold feet due to pure electric and adopting such a big change.

Then find out there is also a 50mile range BEV with a gas backup! “Wow cool, I can drive all electric for commuting and such, and not be scared”.

Expect lots of Bolts to sell to new Volt owners next year as they realise they don’t drive as much as they think.


Volt also has lease deals available that the Bolt does not.


Yeah, Volt pricing is pretty good right now!

But I’m sure the Bolt is creating a lot of new awareness and renewed interest as well.


That assumes a GM dealer who will sell that lease.

Larry Al

You mean expect many dealers to persuade prospective Bolt buyers to the ICE-containing Volt.


Yeah yeah, we know: the top-selling plugin in the US is insufficiently “pure.”


If you ask me to choose between the Prius Prime and the Volt, I would choose the Volt.
The performance of the Volt is not a surprise for me.
I hope that GM will have the will to sell more Bolt.

David Murray

The more likely scenario is they walk into a dealer to buy a Bolt EV… except there aren’t any in inventory. But then they find out about the Volt and buy that instead. We’ll know for sure when the Bolt EV inventory gets fully stocked nationwide. Then again, the Volt is still cheaper so that may also draw people over.

Josh Bryant

Spot on. I was coming here to post exactly that.

I am eating my shoe for all the negative comments on the Volt/Bolt naming. It is paying off for them right now.

That is why GM sells millions of cars worldwide and I post things on blogs…

Eric Cote

“That is why GM sells millions of cars worldwide and I post things on blogs…”

Haha! That one made me LOL. 🙂

Bill Howland
Well I just now put $5000 down payment on a BOLT that will be in the first batch to be shipped to NY State. $400 for the royale blue metalic. $1100 for side lane alert and heated seats No fast charging, cloth seats, non-premier. Spoke to dealership about the 32 amp AV wallbox with 25 ft cord – dealer claims they can’t sell it to me, I have to go through AV, and AV says exactly the opposite, so I’d think in the end the dealer CAN sell it to me. Dealer’s price at the parts dept is $866.76 which is an improvement over the $999 I previously stated. Again, if buying through Aerovironment, they can only sell the 30 amp version which they want $699 for. (I don’t need a wallbox myself as I have the 6 year old one already – I was just researching this for IEV’s readers who might be interested in taking the ‘package deal’ from the dealership). The dealer initially told me $866.76 is the installed price – but I told them that just can’t be right because it could cost upwards of $3000 to install the things in a difficult installation, such as… Read more »

Thanks Bill, good info – I’m (obviously) committed to the em-tres or I would be pursuing a Bolt, but think I just found a Volt for my daughter (Really affordable!) unless you have an offer-I-can’t-refuse on your retiring Volt, lol.

67k, but Purrty Gray, I think she’s gonna.. sh..irt, hehe — you are definitely one of the Many voices that has had me looking for her grad,shyt job, good job Volt present (We’ll fund so she doesn’t have a loan type deal with ahem significant discount).


Maybe if GM actually advertised the Bolt as much as they advertise Trucks, SUV and Camaro……..


That is not likely to happen. Even though by most logical thinking it seems it should. I mean they roll out the J.D. Powers awarded stuff, but it’s all ice. I suppose they do advertise the Volt in select markets, but they are not going to spend to much money to market a car, The Bolt, they really only want to sell in specific amounts in specific areas.

Oh, a spinner, shiny!


Didn’t GM use two Superbowl ads to advertise the Volt back when it was a new model?

I think it’s unfair to castigate GM for not advertising the Volt. I think they did try hard to advertise it when it was new; a Superbowl ad is the most expensive mass advertising ad there is. I submit that disappointing (until now?) levels of Volt sales have little to do with lack of advertising.


I don’t think GM don’t want to sell Bolt, but at the moment EV sales over-all are low. Advertising would be targeted at education about what an EV can do.

All those other products are in well established markets where every manufacturer has an offering, so the advertising is to sway you to their product.

If all of a sudden every manufacturer had EV’s and people suddenly stopped buying SUV, trucks, etc and started wanting EV’s, then I think you would see a sudden shift in advertising effort.

Even Tesla will start advertising once EV’s are commonplace and their sales get taken by their opposition. At the moment they are the only game in town, but Bolt has changed that, as will Leaf 2.0 and any other EV’s that come along.


They sell around a million trucks a year, so if they spent as much to advertise a car they target around 3% as many units in sales, they would be over-spending by around 97% on advertising per unit sold.

I’d just be happy if they spent 3% of their truck advertising dollars on the Bolt. So far it seems that they are relying on social media and car shows.

Texas FFE

It’s more like seven or eight million considering their total sales are around nineteen million world wide.


Thank you for pointing out the reality, Nix.

Yeah, I’d like to see a lot more advertising of PEVs (Plug-in EVs). But it would make no sense to heavily advertise products with such a small market segment.

Michael Will

…but what if advertising actually changes the size of the market segment 🙂 The real reason they don’t advertise EV’s is because they make more money with the high margin gas guzzlers and only sell compliance vehicles to offset the regulatory side of it. If they went all in advertising EVs they would have to talk about all the bad things that you leave behind when switching from ICE to EV. So they hope to just flood the nieche of buyers that is already lost to the ICE market with their product and keep the rest of the people in the dark about what they are missing.


Michael — you are right. So let’s say 4% of GM truck the ad spending, instead of just the 3% that would put it on parity on a per-unit basis.

That would be 33% higher advertising spending per unit sold. Go much higher and you start spending too much per car to find each individual buyer. That individual buyer would have to end up eating high advertising costs as higher car prices to pay for the higher ad spend.

Sadly, I’m guessing GM isn’t even at 1%, and is actually well below their trucks on a per-unit basis.


That would make no sense. You don’t need to advertise something that is already selling as well as you hoped. The Cameron hasn’t sold well this generation. It needs a push.

Tesla doesn’t advertise their EVs. What’s the problem?


Hmmm, well, Tesla doesn’t use paid mass media advertising. But they do advertise, in many ways, including a very successful campaign of media manipulation to generate free advertising… such as all the Tesla-related articles at InsideEVs.

Eventually, EVs will need advertising just as much as gasmobiles currently do, and for the same reason. Until that happens, just remember that the most effective form of advertising is that done in person. So for those who own a plug-in EV and are happy with it, please do continue to brag about it to friends, relatives, and neighbors! And offer test drives whenever possible. That’s going to convince a lot more people to make an EV their next car than a paid Internet banner ad.


They don’t need to. Production will be sold out easily.


There are only 2 months in all of 2015 that beat last month!


The increase in the 2017 Volt is not surprising since it’s a improved model, also the Bolt has received many positive reviews and awards and is first to the long range more affordable category. Pent up demand finally has a few more and better choices.
The Prime is pretty good too, from what I’ve read.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

A coworker of mine has one. He seems to like it. Says it fits his needs because it’s all EV both ways (charges at work also) and the ICE doesn’t pop on like everyone says.


Has one, what? A Prime or a Volt?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

A Prime.
I’ll take him up on his test drive offer later.


Prius has taken a long time to get brand recognition and evolve to the PHEV. It will sell well because the public perception is that it is a good, economical car to own. Volt hasn’t been on the market as long, but it will gain a reputation if it can last the distance. Once people gain knowledge about EV’s and infrastructure build out, then they will gain a reputation and become increasingly in demand.


The Prius Prime also should be very easy to sell. Toyota dealers already have had people coming in to dealers to look for a Prius hybrid for a long time, and it won’t be hard to convince this audience to spend less (after the tax credit) for a better PHEV car that saves even more gas. Sold! 50K a year in sales should be eminently doable. On the other hand, the Volt/Bolt buyers are going to be a much smaller number of plug-in early adopters, and have to be able/willing to pay significantly more than a comparable ICE model. It’s harder to make the use case over the comparable ICE model (and Chevy salesman wouldn’t try).

Norry Sponse

I’m glad to see all the models doing well. I’ve had a Prime for a week and in 40 years of driving it is quite likely the best overall car I’ve ever owned. My round trip commute is covered in EV-Power mode with room to spare, and in that mode it is very fast from the start, as well as smooth and refined.

The smaller battery is a negative if your commuting range is longer, but 77% of commuters under 50 miles (84% of all drivers) have a commute less than 25 miles so carrying the extra battery weight for 50-ish miles results in inferior gas mileage in for HV trips. It’s also $3000 cheaper than Volt even after incentives and has the legendary Toyota reliability. But both cars have a market.

I have reservation for a Tesla 3 but will get my money back. Would be great to have, but considerably more expensive and with questionable reliability.

Taylor S Marks

That 271K total deliveries in the US in 2017 prediction is with no Model 3 deliveries. I’d imagine that the Model 3 should bring it above 300K total easy, for total Y/Y growth nearing, or even shattering 100%.


300k Tesla Model 3…haha…that’s a joke. They will deliver maybe 5k this year.


300k = 271k + possible 29k TM3, which even then is very optimistic, your 5k I see as much more realistic!


We need someone to leak information about how Tesla factory upgrade is progressing so we can assess if M3 is on track for 2017 delivery. If they started production as late as August, that would be easily enough time to build several thousand cars before the end of the year. I guess when their Configurator goes online will be a good indication.

I prefer the big grand-daddy of leaks that is coming on the 22nd. Tesla usually puts their good-faith estimate of units they will build into their SEC filings. Tesla’s SEC filings where they will likely put a target number for 2017 production down on paper and make it official has been announced today: http://ir.tesla.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=1010226 Tesla Announces Date for Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Financial Results and Webcast PALO ALTO, CA — (Marketwired) — 02/02/17 — Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) will post its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2016 after market close on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. At that time, Tesla will issue a brief advisory containing a link to the Q4 and full year 2016 Update Letter, which will be available on the Tesla IR website. Tesla management will hold a live question and answer webcast that day at 2:30pm Pacific Time (5:30pm Eastern Time) to discuss the Company’s financial and business results and outlook. What: Date of Tesla Q4 and full year 2016 Financial Results and Q&A Webcast When: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Time: 2:30pm Pacific Time / 5:30pm Eastern Time Shareholder Letter and Webcast: http://ir.tesla.com (live and replay) Approximately two hours… Read more »
Someone out there

70% increase is amazing! Then consider the roll out of the Bolt EV to all states, the upcoming 2 gen LEAF, possibly the Tesla model 3 and maybe even more models, we might have a fantastic year ahead of us!

David S.

How many Pacifica hybrid have been sold? I’ve read about a couple new owners on a Pacifica forum.


Only just been released. No January sales.

Robert Weekley

The Chart says the Pacific is expected to start deliveries in February! Can it Beat the Bolt EV’s 1st Month? Can it Beat the Prius Primes 1st Month? Inquiring minds want to know!


Over on PacficiaForums, there’s been a couple of people that have received one.

So the total isn’t 0, but it’s unknown how many actually got sold.

Get Real

I contributed to that number BTW by leasing the really excellent Chevy Bolt to join my Volt in my garage and be fueled by my Solar PV!


Exactly the same here!

Jean-François Morissette

Jay, a challenge for 2017: a list of all the expected new models in an article. You failed to do it last year, maybe this year you can manage to do it!


Big 2nd on that

Josh Bryant

Outlander PHEV, for the 4th year in a row…

David S.

Off the top of my head
New models:
Tesla Model 3
Hyundai IONIQ EV and PHEV
Kia Niro PHEV?
Honda Clarity BEV and PHEV
Volvo 40 series BEC and PHEV
Mercedes-Benz B-class ED
MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 PHEV
Updated models:
Ford Focus Electric
Volkswagen e-Golf
Smart Fortwo ED
Nissan LEAF


Let’s hope that Jan. continues to be the weakest sales month in 2017…..

Texas FFE

The number of advertisements of Bolts for sale in MA, MD and VA grows every day. We could see a pretty good jump in Bolt sales in February if inventories in California don’t grow and we start to see deliveries in the east coast states. I’ll jump the gun and say GM will sale around 2,000 Bolts in February or pretty much every Bolt they produce.

Brian J Grier

While I like the look of the Volt better, if I had a spare $45k (car,options plus taxes) I would order a Bolt right now.


would love to see an article on how much you think the market will grow in 2017! (Is 70% realistic? Do you expect more or less?)


Car sales vary a lot from month to month. Basing expectations on a single month’s sales usually leads to disappointment.

Let’s remember that PEV (Plug-in EV) sales numbers are mainly driven by the top few sellers, and that those sales can be greatly affected by promotions and discounts which won’t last the entire year.

Last year’s year-on-year increase in North American PEV sales was about 37%, and this year looks to be even stronger. So an increase of 50-60% might well be in the works. I certainly wouldn’t say that 70% is impossible, but that would be double what it was last year, so that’s a pretty high bar to reach. Unless the Model 3 starts selling in large numbers, I doubt we’ll see a year-on-year increase of 70% for 2017. And since I’ve predicted that Tesla won’t be able to perform volume production of the M3 until next year, then I personally don’t think that will happen.

Texas FFE

These are very exciting times. I feel we are on the cusp of a new age. Just like the Ford Model T heralded in a new age in transportation in the 20th century, I feel the Bolt is heralding in a new age in transportation in the 21st century.

I have felt for years that 2017 was going to be a big year for transportation and now that 2017 is here I feel even more strongly that this is going to be a very important year. There are a lot of things happening but the introduction of the Bolt I feel is the pinnacle. I’m just glad I’m here to see these changes.

Texas FFE

That being said, any car model in this market has to sell in the hundreds of thousands to be relevant. Even if the Bolt sells close to forty thousand it really can’t be considered relevant. The Ford Model T sold over two million in one year but the Model T was really many different car bodies on a single Model T frame.

Will variants of the Bolt ever reach numbers of the Model T? Will sales numbers of the TM3 ever be considered relevant? Is this the beginning of a sustainable future or just fruits of a doom political agenda?

Sales of the Ford Model T so dominated auto sales that at one time, the Model T had 90% of the auto market. I think it’s safe to say that no PEV (Plug-in EV) will ever capture that market share. Not the Bolt, not the Model 3, not anything. The auto market is much more mature now than it was in the 1910s and 1920s, so the possibility of any company capturing a lopsided majority like that would be far, far more difficult. There will be too much competition from other auto makers. Furthermore, neither the Bolt nor the Model 3 are sold at a true “Everyman” car price, as was the Model T, and later, the VW Beetle. Both the Bolt and the Model 3 are better described as “semi-affordable” rather than “affordable” or “everyman” cars. It’s possible the Model 3 will eventually come down in price far enough to be considered a true everyman car, but frankly I doubt that will happen. Perhaps the first true “everyman” PEV in the first-world car market will come from BYD or some other foreign auto maker penetrating the North American market with a lower-priced PEV, or perhaps some future model from… Read more »

>It’s possible the Model 3 will eventually come down in price far enough to be considered a true everyman car, but frankly I doubt that will happen.

I doubt the M3 will come down much in price also but it could still very well be the first “everyman car” if Tesla makes it the first fully autonomous vehicle.

Hank S.

Did he really say never? I thought that 5 years was is prediction cut off date. However, I can see Tesla/Musk saying that because it’s the strategy that Apple uses to avoid cheapening the brand identity. If Tesla wanted to make cheaper cars, it would make sense to do it under a different brand if at all.


Following that back to the source… you were right to question it. Elon’s statement was not nearly as absolutest as I have seen it paraphrased, so mea culpa for repeating the inaccurate paraphrase.

The actual quote, from July 20, 2016:

“A lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary, because of the third part of the plan described below.” Musk then went on to talk about his plan for lowering production costs using “physics principles”. Based on more recent statements, it seems that what he was actually talking about there was not basic physics principles, but eliminating human workers by increasing automation.

You can see his comments in their context here:


* * * * *

Contrariwise, not long before, during a talk in April 2016, Elon said “And there will be future cars that are even more affordable [than the Model 3] down the road.” (source linked below)

So perhaps by saying anything lower priced than the Model 3 is “unlikely to be necessary”, Elon is just trying to avoid something close to (if not quite) the Osborne Effect.


Josh Bryant

I have a 1911 Model T, but it is white with a red pin stripe. My grandfather restored them and took some creative license on this particular one.

I’ll see if I can find a picture to post.


Very happy to see the Volt do better, and better.


It took 9 months to break 10K in 2011. Now we are doing it in 1 month, and in typically the lowest selling month of plug-ins.


This is a GOOD thing! Excited to see what this time next year looks like!

I plotted the January sales vs end of year sales (we now have 6 points! laws have been changed with less data). The best fitting excel function was a 6th order polynomial! yes, well lets move on. Really there isn’t enough data to get a correlation but this is the internet so here goes: “Detailed mathematical modelling of data painstakingly collected over half a decade would suggest that based on Januaries sales figures we can expect sales of between 200,000 and 800,000 in 2017 in the USA” OK predicting the years sales off Januaries figures is a bit silly but I suspect that there is enough data in the plug-in sales charts to start to get some pretty realistic predictions going forward from here. I think it would be difficult to predict geographic distribution (i.e. like the sales numbers in the US) but perhaps you could start to look at predicting global sales with some accuracy 12 months in advance. If you are after me making a bet I would be going for 2017 ending with sales of between 200,000 and 250,000 dependent on oil price. If Trump gets his war by June, then I suspect we could see sales… Read more »

Woot! The EV revolution is accelerating!
🙂 🙂 🙂

I wonder if “buzz” about the Bolt EV is giving a boost to Volt sales? Maybe GM giving rather similar names to the Volt and the Bolt wasn’t such a bad idea after all!


psst! GM’s original plugin vehicle was the EV-1, imagine if they sold 1,611 of it last month after 20 years on the market! 🙂


Jay – there is a table below or even call it a spreadsheet but no graph.

Graph below: A look at the sales by model for each plug-in offering in the US (for a more details model-by-model look at the numbers, check out our full January sales recap here):


Plug in offerings are probably complementing each other. Bolt not so much, but, Prime vs Volt may sway buyers one direction or the other. Volt sales may also be influenced by Bolt hype.

Tony Seba is still saying ALL new cars will be electric or hybrid by 2025.


Why the sales for Ford Focus EV are so low? I heard that they improved the battery size for the car and can now go over 100 electric miles on a charge. I espected an increase in sales next to the Nissan Leaf with similar range.


It was reported on CNBC that the Bolt was only sitting on dealer’s lots an average of seven days before being sold or leased.


I’m really surprised at the Prius Prime numbers. Somebody explain to me why this vehicle, which hasn’t been on the market for that long, is almost outselling the Volt?

I know the Prime doesn’t have better electric range than the Volt, but is the other parts of the car that much better?