July 2017 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
In July, 34 different models of plug-in vehicles were sold in the US, although one might believe that there was only one – as the Tesla Model 3 officially arrived on Friday, July 28th, 2017 – of which, InsideEVs was there live – check out the delivery party and first specs on the 220-310 mile Tesla EV here.
And while yes, the first 30 deliveries of the Model 3 was just a rounding-error for July’s overall plug-in vehicle sales results, the potential for 10,000, 15,000 or even 20,000 Model 3s to be sold in a single month in the US by late Fall is what really drives our imagination.
Living in the present day, the Model 3 ranked as the 31st best selling EV in July, and the ~100 anticipated to be delivered for August won’t get it much further up the list (perhaps top 22).
Overall, EV sales in the US once again surged ahead, setting a new high for the 22 consecutive month*, a significant feat as the traditional automotive market suffered one of its worst months in years, off ~7%.
For July, there was an estimated 15,607 sales in the US, good for almost a 20% gain.
With July’s total added into the year ~104,863 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold so far in 2017, which is up 35% from 2016, when 77,619 were moved.
As July was the first month of a new quarter, Tesla took the month off from delivering US orders (as they tend to do), allowing the other popular plug-in models to duke it out for the top spot.
And that winner, almost crossing the 2,000 sales mark for the first time, was the 238 mile Chevrolet Bolt EV (with 1,971) sales. July’s result was the 4th consecutive year-high for the Chevy, and with the Bolt EV going nationwide next month in the US, the plug-in looks to not only cross the 2,000 sales mark in August, but may well be on its way into the 3,000s before the year’s end.
Also of note: The Honda Clarity Electric, despite reportedly not going on sale (lease) until August 1st, actually delivered the first 34 copies in July.
On the fuel cell side of things, the Toyota Mirai sold (leased) 82 copies in July, while the Honda Clarity FCV notched and identical 82.
Questions for July (with answers in brackets as they come in):
- The Tesla Model S and Chevy Volt have been having a back-and-forth battle for best selling plug-in this year. Could the Volt take back the title in July? (No, 2017 lows kept the Volt a couple hundred of the pace in our estimation)
- Can the Toyota Prius Prime shake its inventory woes in the US and finally breakout? (Nope, low inventory still equals contained sales)
- The next generation Nissan LEAF will debut at a special event in Tokyo on September 5th, but can the ‘old & busted’ still crack the 4 digit level in June? (yes indeed, as sales were still up 20% year-over-year in July)
- In the battle of “new offerings that aren’t stocked so well”, who will manage to sell more – the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid, or the new Mini Countryman Plug-In? (Sales respectively: 43, 22, 75 … so the Mini takes the win)
Editor’s Note: This list is compiled in real time as we track down the numbers, starting the morning of August 1st, through the early afternoon of Wednesday, August 2nd. So if you are seeing this note, the work is in progress…and check back again for the data on all your favorite EVs soon!
Last update: Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 – 4:25 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 Recap For Major Models:
(limited to vehicles with ~500 sales/or potential for 500 sales in a given month)
While the spotlight early in the year was firmly on its stablemate – the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and now the Tesla Model 3 media frenzy has taken over, few have noticed the car in 2nd place on the US sales list.
Hint: It’s the Chevy Volt
With that said, July was a month the Volt would probably like to forget, as the 1,518 sales represented the plug-in’s worst result of the year, and off 35% from a year ago.
Still, if there was one story to highlight with the 2017 model year Volt in July, it was the inventory level that the 53 mile, extended range car finished its production run with. As the lights came down on production in Hamtramck, Michigan, the Volt crossed the 5,000 mark for the first time (at least while in its gen 2 trim) in late June, before falling back to about 4,300 entering August.
To us, that seem like a lot of 2017 model year inventory with the 2018s about to arrive. Does this mean there will be a production slowdown for the Volt on the 2018s for a time? Or possibly larger discounting will being offered to increase sales and blow-out the 2017s? It’s hard to say for sure. But we can tell you that 2018 model year production is kicked off in July. The 2018 MY Volt is mostly unchanged from the 2017 edition (details).
Chevrolet Bolt EV:
Getting a handle on sales demand and the appropriate inventory level for GM’2 238 mile car has been a little difficult to say the least. A limited state-by-state roll-out can do that.
Coming off June’s highest sales level (with 1,642 copies sold), GM promptly extended the Summer shutdown at the car’s Orion, Michigan plant….and then posted the 2017 sales high in July, with 1,981 sales in limited release!
And although, there was north of 7,000 copies at dealers or in transit (good for 110+ days worth of stock), GM noted the shutdown was Sonic petrol car related (as sales of the subcompact have cratered over the past couple years).
The story of Bolt EV inventory was so prevalent, GM even broke cover and made a statement, pointing out that:
“There are only 7,000 Bolt EVs in dealer stock or in transit. Divide that by the number of Bolt/certified dealers and we have roughly 6 per store. That is hardly overstocked.”
Given the sales trends – 4 consecutive months of new 2017 highs, GM’s story that the extended shutdown was based on the poor performing Sonic, and not the Bolt EV checks out.
Further to that, GM surprised the market and opened up nationwide orders in June (a month early), with the first copies set to arrive in August.
Hopefully adding in 32 more states to the mix next month will help the Bolt EV continue to set new year-highs for the rest of the year – we look forward to be able to report a sales month for the 238 mile EV that starts with a “3”.
News flash: The Nissan LEAF is old. There is no EV on sale in the US today as old as the LEAF.
In August, the LEAF turns 81…as in 81 months old, and despite that it continues to sell in respectable numbers – albeit with some heft discounts put on the hood (sometimes up to $10,000 off).
For July, Nissan LEAF sales actually improved by 20% over a year ago, as a respectable 1,283 copies were sold!
Yet, in just a little over a month from now, the 2nd generation LEAF will finally be revealed in full at a special event in Tokyo on September 5th (6th locally in Japan)!
As for the 2017 MY LEAF, that rolls on…and on…and on. Nissan had about 2,000 in stock heading into August, which in our opinion is just about “right-sized”, as the company moves to an orderly wind-down of the grandfather of the modern day all-electric vehicle.
For the year, 8,531 LEAFs have been sold, a gain of 24.4% over 2016 when 6,856 were moved through the first 7 months.
Production of the new LEAF kicks off in late Fall, with the first copies of the 2018 LEAF reported to arrive in the US in December (think early 2018 for anywhere not America).
Toyota Prius Prime:
After setting a new high of 1,618 sales in March, Prius Prime sales continued to defy the almost non-existent inventory at the dealership level so far – selling 1,908 in May!
For July, that limited supply chain as caught up to the Prime, as sales were roughly on par with June, as 1,645 Primes were delivered last month.
The two most interesting things to take away from the Prius Prime’s arrival and sales so far in the US?
- Inventory…as in there isn’t any to speak of.
- Sales…for 2017 so far, the Prime sits in 3rd spot
On the inventory front, the Prime hit a 3 month low in June, averaging just 700 in stock, and entered July in pretty bad shape as well.
With that said, there may be some hope to see the plug-in Prius flex its sales muscle soon, as the inventory levels rose slightly at month’s end, and entered August with almost 1,200 copies in stock; not a high number, but the highest it has been so far in the US to date.
Yes, the Prius Prime is here, and it might just be your 2017 plug-in sales champion for the US. The Toyota not only features its own unique look, but 25 miles of all-electric range.
How high could sales go? It really is hard to say, we speculated before the model’s arrive last year we felt it could touch 4,000 or 5,000 units…and given that estimate was just eclipsed in May (5,369 sales) in the Toyota’s home market in Japan, it seems like a realistic number now more than ever.
When an amount of inventory arrive to fill the demand void? It’s hard to say, but perhaps by year’s end after the 2018 model year production is well underway in Japan this Fall.
Why the high acceptance? 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.
Oh BMW i3, you break our hearts! We had such high hopes for the i3 when it was introduced in 2014, but it has been mostly downhill ever since the launch.
Once upon a time, the blame for the low and bipolar nature of the BMW i3’s sales, was because of the introduction of a new, longer range (94 Ah/33 kWh) version.
For the first ~9 months of 2016, low sales was due to the older generation not selling well in advance of the 2017 model year’s arrival in September. Then it was reported “limited initial supply” of the i3 in the Fall to blame for the lower-than-previous results…but what is it now?
For 2017, things started rough, with just 182 sales logged in January, and 318 in February. Fortunately, the tune changed drastically in March (which given the i3’s track record is not all that surprising), with 703 sales made, a 118% gain over March of 2016. Then in April and May, any momentum was lost – back down to 516 deliveries in April and 503 in May, 567 in June.
Sales improved slightly in July, with 601 sold, but that number is still massively lower (59%) than the 1,479 (of the 22 kWh version) sold a year ago. For the year, 3,593 i3s have been solf, off 13% from last year when 4,359 had been sold through the first 7 months.
Quite frankly, the i3 as it stands today is likely too expensive for plug-in vehicle buyers, so if BMW wants to sell the EV in volumes like it did in the past, 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%
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.
This might be one of the first months where the Tesla Model S isn’t the EV of interest on the sales chart, but that doesn’t mean things were not happening with Tesla’s most popular offering to date.
Specifically, July seemed to be the one of the herky-jerkiest (technical term) months in terms of customer production and sales.
Was it the start-up of Model 3 production? Was it a focus on international propduction and orders? Was it battery supply issues? Was it building out new inventory?
Probably a little of everything. What we do know is that very, very few actual customer orders where delivered in the US, and we feel this is one of the few months that pre-built inventory sales far out-stripped custom orders, as the removal of the 60 kWh, 90 kWh and mostly recently RWD 75 kWh cars has put a lot of (relatively rare) steep discounts on existing stock.
For July we estimate 1,425 Model S sedans were sold by Tesla.
Will the Model 3 take away from Model S sales in the future? From what we can tell looking at new orders coming into the company in July, our guess is that the Model S could be facing a 25%+ drop in demand volume, something we aren’t seeing with the Model X (for obvious reasons).
Meaning that the shift of the Model X being the higher volume premium offering seems likely to us. With that said, if Tesla is selling 10,000+ Model 3s a month in the US, will the company care if the Model S drops a couple hundred units a month? We think not…we imagine it was expected.
Ultimately we will have to wait a bit (October/November) to see if this plays out as expected, as customer order/demand lag can take a few months to become apparent.
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.
Rather than repeat ourselves, many of the production quirks that afflicted the Model S were in play for the Model X, although there seemed to be more of a focus on building inventory vehicles of the X in July than that of the Model S; perhaps in anticipation of a future demand change between the two vehicles.
Our expectation for the second half of the year, and certainly for 2018 in the US is that Model X sales will outpace the Model S, a trend that we have seen coming closer and closer to reality as the excitement around the Model 3, and its first deliveries in July came closer.
Although it’s too early to put any hard number estimates on it, we have seen what looks to be a weakening in demand for the Model S in the second half in the US, while the Model X has been immune – which just makes sense as a premium utility vehicle and a mid-size car are not natural combatants inside Tesla’s virtual showroom.
Like the Model S however in July, we saw more inventory sales than customer orders in July (as Tesla generally delivers very little to the US during the first half of a quarter, instead focusing on international deliveries). For the month we estimate Tesla sold 1,650 Model X utility vehicles.
Tesla Model 3: It has arrived!
Just ~16 months after orders opened, and ~10 years since it was first announced (then known as the “Bluestar”), the first Model 3s were delivered on July 28th, 2017! One can check out the full delivery ceremony, and all the newly released specs (220-310 miles range, 0-60 mph in 5.1-5.6 seconds) on our full recap here.
As with Model S & X sales, Tesla is not planning to release monthly Model 3 sales in the US at this point time. Until then 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).
Thankfully, we don’t need Tesla’s disclosures this month, as the complete delivery volume of the month took place live at the July 28th delivery event in Fremont, California, as the first 30 cars were delivered to Tesla employees/stakeholders in the US.
The same can basically said for August sales, as the production volume as already been foretold at about 100 units. Basically, there is no “real” mass production of the Model 3 happening in July or August, these are specialty cars that are being monitored closely on the line before it is ‘turned up to 11’ (aka “Hell” in CEO Musk’s words) in late September.
Rolling into September, Tesla targets upwards of 1,500 Model 3s to be produced – which could prove tricky to forecast if they all come right at month end…that is, where it not for the fact that all the Model 3s in Q3 are going into the hands of Americans, and Tesla reports Q3 numbers a few weeks later… and thereby pretty much tells us the exact number of Model 3 sales for September.
Nonetheless, we of course will be reporting on the day to day happenings, and ups and downs of Model 3 production as we hear about it.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid:
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/on/off/quasi-on start for the Pacifica Hybrid as it relates to deliveries. Then there was QC holds, then launch delays. Finally, the Pacifica Hybrid officially arrived on “Earth Day” April 22nd, 2017, and customers enjoyed a good 3-4 weeks of arriving inventory…until the wheels fell off (not literally).
By June 10th a nationwide recall was announced, and all 1,677 Pacificas sold in the US and Canada had to head back to Chrysler to get a faulty diode replaced that could cause lost of power when in operation. We won’t get into all the details from there (check out our June sales report for more info).
Long story short, Chrysler put a stop sale on the van, and pretty much wrote off the end of the 2017 model year with the 2018 season kicking off in August.
As far as we can tell (because Chrysler is as transparent as a brick), that stop sales has yet to be lifted, and many customers (and dealers) are waiting to be able to move what remains of the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid.
The recall note discloses this issue, and we have yet to hear differently:
“Chrysler has not yet finalized its remedy plans for this recall. The recall is expected to begin on July 24, 2017. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is T34.”
As an odd disclosure bonus, the recall gave us absolute clarity on Pacifica Hybrid sales through June 9th so far (1,368), and it appears a few have trickled out since (perhaps just a quirk of reporting). We’d like to put a big zero for July sales, but autonomous Waym0 production seems to still have continued in June/July, so we will estimate that 125 were registered – but only as captive fleet sales, non to the public.
Arriving on the US market about a year ago was the BMW 330e, which is the plug-in hybrid version of the company’s high selling 3 series offering.
And while the 330e (from $44,695 including DST), physically arrived in April 2016 in a token amount, and it took BMW 9 months to begin to stock the vehicle even marginally. A process which has finally started to take hold.
Finally in May and June, some decent inventory arrived, and sales followed, as the 330 sold 475 and 499 respectively.
Unfortunately, the 330e fell back in July, but not by a lot, as 387 copies were sold – good enough to keep it moving up the sales charts into 13th (passing the VW e-Golf this month)
On the inventory side, the 330e peaked at around 750 cars in July, before falling back to around 600 entering August as the 2018 model year approaches.
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:
After selling between about ~400 copies a month in Q1 (387, 400 and 414), Audi slipped in Q2, and now into the start of Q3.
For May Audi moved 294 A3 e-trons, before increasing to 324 copies in June.
Unfortunately, that May-to-June gain was pulled back in July, as just 218 plug-in Audis were sold – the worst result for the car since in was introduced in 2015.
To be fair, some of this drop (or perhaps most of it) can be attributed to some poor planning/thin end of year inventory of the Sportback, as only around 200 copies were available during the month to be had before the 2018s arrive shortly.
In 2016, 4,280 copies were sold…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 79 consecutive months of record year-over-year sales in the US.
The A3 e-tron has a low price inside Audi’s lineup. $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.
Also a reason for decent sales numbers on the A3 e-tron…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.
Ford Fusion Energi:
The refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion Energi (details) was a fairly big hit in 2016, showing marked improvements throughout the year.
Heading into 2017, the Fusion Energi crossed back into “4 digit land” in March, as 1,002 Energis were moved in March…joining a club of just 5 other at that level. A level which the company returned to in May…but could not maintain, as just 707 copies were sold in June, and an near equal amount in July at 703 deliveries.
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; the Fusion Energi often won the crown for the “most stocked” EV in the US … before Chevy got crazy with the Volt and Bolt EV.
With that said, Ford had been struggling to keep production on pace with demand (or they are managing inventory lower)…after having almost 3,000 in stock in mid-June, by the start of August that number had fallen by about 800 units, as the industry-wide Summer shutdown/changeover to MY 2018 was underway.
Congratulations Volkswagen, you win our “jackass of the year” award…and its only August!
After a rocky start with continued dieselgate fallout, the longer range 2017 e-Golf was promised to the US after production started in Germany in late 2016.
Well, guess what? All we see is the “old & busted” 2016s still clogging up dealer lots; which pretty much means (at least to us) the 2017 edition will not be a real thing in America.
Despite the lack of 2017 -Golf, the older model continues to sell decently enough, moving about ~300 copies a month on average this year, but with some incentives on the hood to drive sales.
In July specifically 308 copies of the 2016 edition of the e-Golf were sold. We wonder just who is lining up to buy a 2016 model year car…but apparently they are.
As noted, some additional sales help is on the way – eventually, as Volkswagen is offering an upgraded range on the original e-Golf platform (see our review of the new model here). When the 2018s will arrive in the US is still unknown.
The 2017 (or 2018 if you will) 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 got underway earlier this year, and arrives….next month (again).
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. And in June AND July…we finally did.
Last year…for just one month, the plug-in C-Max manged to step out of the Fusion’s shadow for the first time, and sold an all-time best 1,289 copies – 17% more than the Fusion Energi.
But over the past two months, that trick has been repeated back-to-back, as the C-Max Energi sold an impressive 936 copies, 33% more than the Fusion Energi (707) in June, then again 844 to 703 in July (+20%),
Will the C-Max Energi ever get its due as a top-selling plug-in model for the US? Probably not. Especially as we just spotted the new Ford Escape Energi plug-in out testing in the US in June…a model which, along with a Focus Energi (a trademark application for which we recently uncovered), basically signifies the end of the C-Max Energi.
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 full 12 months.
For most of 2016, the Fiat 500e was a consistent performer, but 2017 results have really seen those results ratcheted up (amazing what ~$100 lease deals can do!)
It is interesting to note that sales this year peaked in January (of all months) at an estimated ~752 sales, but the sales have stayed exceptionally high year-over-year to date.
We had expected that sales would dip in the Summer (as they have in the past) with 2017 inventory thinning out ahead of 2018, but that doesn’t seem to be the case as upwards of 500 were in stock heading into August (which was more than the 500e entered the month with).
For July, we estimate that 475 all-electric Fiats found a home (mostly in California) during the month. As for the 2018 model year, we have not yet heard when it will arrive, but it will be unchanged.
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 BMW SUV has seen sales as high as 876 units in 2016 (August 2016).
2017 started out a little lackluster for the X5 plug-in, as inventories stayed frustratingly low (insert this complaint for almost all BMW plug-ins found in America), but May managed a 2017-high with 433 sales and BMW followed that strong performance up by doing “one better” in June – selling 488 X5 40es, before settling again in the mid 400s in July (at 433 sales).
For July, inventory of the popular plug-in SUV deepened slightly to north of 500 units.
Check out our first drive review of the 13 mile AER BMW x5 xDrive40e here.