June 2017 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
We imagine the interest in June’s plug-in electric vehicle sales report is at a year-low right now.
And not because the sales were off (they weren’t), but because possibly the most anticipated EV launch of all times goes down in July, taking the focus off this month’s results. We of course are referencing the Tesla Model 3; of which the first 30 deliveries will happen at a launch party on July 28th, another ~1,700 in the eight weeks to follow, and up to 20,000 to be built in December alone. Whether or not those numbers ultimately prove true…will be for next months’ reports.
For June, the 2016 comps were high (~14,683)…but no match for 2017’s result.
During the month, an estimated 17,182 plug-ins were sold, good for a 16% gain over a year ago.
With June’s approximate total added in the whole, some 89,285 plug-in vehicles have been sold so far in 2017, which is up 38% from 2016, when ~64,552 were moved. We should of course note that EV sales in the US have now risen for 21 consecutive months*.
Obviously, with the Model 3 expected to start delivering in volume by September (~1,500 units) – up to 20,000 in December, and the addition of the 2018 LEAF to the US market in December, the 2nd half result should dwarf the first six month of 2017.
Leading the way in June however was two familiar faces – Tesla with its customarily “3rd month of a quarter” rush (although not the peaks we have been used too…perhaps some distraction with the Model 3’s arrival in July?), and General Motors, as the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EV combine to give GM the #2 EV maker spot again in June.
We should also note that Toyota’s monthly numbers are averaging almost 2,000 units delivered of late – off of just one offering, the Prius Prime, which lead all plug-in sales both in April and May.
Although, our real question surrounding the Prius Prime is “how high can it go?” As we recently seen in Japan, a rush of inventory (something not yet seen in the US), lead to more than 5,000 Japanese sales in May.
Could the US see a similar result? We will have to wait and see.
We do know that rush won’t be coming in June or July as inventory in the US was actually stretched thinner (if that is possible) to allow Toyota to roll out the car deeper internationally. Still, the Prime sold north of 1,600 units this month.
Also of interest: the 2018 Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4 Plug-In Hybrid arrived at a few dealers just days before the month ended (and refreshingly right on time). How will the Mini plug-in sell? Fairly well we suspect, perhaps as many as 300 copies a month in our estimation… that is, provided Mini decides to actually stock it (which is always a question when talking about a BMW-sourced plug-in for America).
Questions for June (with answers in brackets as they come in):
- Can the Chevrolet Volt hold off the Tesla Model S from re-taking the year to date sales lead? (nope, the Model S just edged out the Chevy, although we expect the Volt to retake the lead in July)
- Can the Toyota Prius Prime be the best selling plug-in for Q2 in the US? (nope…missed it by ‘that much’, losing to the Volt 5,346 units to 5,369)
- How will the Nissan LEAF do against year ago comps now that the company has announced the next generation LEAF will debut at a special event in Tokyo on September 6th? (pretty well)
- Will anyone remember the Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4 Plug-In Hybrid’s proper name when buying the US’ latest plug-in offering? We hate it. We know a handful actually arrived in June…but did any actually get sold? (indeed, almost a dozen!)
Of interest: The fuel cell Toyota Mirai sold 129 copies in June, good for a YTD total of 708, while the Honda Clarity FCV moved 49 copies (total of 294 YTD)
Last update: Tuesday July 4th, 2017 – 2:03 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)
The Chevrolet Volt has sold almost as many copies as any other plug-in for America through the first six months of the year (the Tesla Model S just edged it out in June)…yet, hardly anyone has noticed.
The spotlight early in the year was firmly on its stablemate – the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and now the Tesla Model 3 commands the market’s 100% attention.
Last month in June, 1,745 were moved – off 10%, a similar result to May when 1,817 were sold (also off slightly). Looking ahead, Chevrolet will need to sell a few more copies of the Volt to keep pace with its 2016 self, as 2,406 were sold in July of 2016.
Still, if there was one story to highlight with the 2017 model year Volt, it was the inventory level 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), before falling back to about 4,500 entering July.
Does this mean there will be a production slowdown for the Volt, or possibly larger discounting being offered to increase sales? It’s hard to say for sure. But we can tell you that 2018 model year production is scheduled to kick on July 10th, 2017. The 2018 MY Volt is mostly unchanged from the 2017 edition (details).
Chevrolet Bolt EV:
GM’s first long range offering completed its first full month on the US market in January, selling an impressive 1,162 copies in California and Oregon (the two states selected for the Bolt EV’s launch before going nationwide later this year).
Unfortunately, and despite added a ~dozen more states to the roll-out, the Bolt EV didn’t manage to crest much higher in the next four months.
Originally, we had
been told thought tight inventory was holding back sales, but by late April inventory moved deep into 4 digits, and headed toward 5,000 units in May – the result was 1,566 sales.
For June, inventory of the Bolt EV touched close to the 6,000 unit level, and again, Bolt EV sales moved higher – up to 1,642 copies, a new 2017 high.
With the Bolt EV clearly underselling even GM’s own expectations, the company now finds itself with way too much 2017 model year stock. To solve this issue, GM surprised the market and opened up nationwide orders in June (a month early), with the first copies set to arrive next month (August). Hopefully adding in 32 more states to the mix will help the Bolt EV set new year-highs this Fall!
It is no secret that the Nissan LEAF is aging, and that the US consumer is anticipating a new, 2nd generation model to debut at a special event in Tokyo on September 6th!
Stoking the anticipation during June, was some spyshots InsideEVs acquired of the inside of the next generation LEAF out testing mid-month…which then prompted Nissan to publish its own “teaser shot” of the new LEAF’s dash just ~12 hours later. We still like ours better.
Yet despite the anticipate for a new model, entering this month the LEAF saw gains in the past 9 consecutive months in a row, including a year-high in June with 1,507 sold.
Even more interesting, the ‘old and busted’ LEAF has managed to hold its own again the new Chevy Bolt EV, as sales were near dead-even going in June. (5,742 LEAF sales vs 5,950 Bolt EV sales)
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 1,819 copies in April, and 1,908 in May!
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. Never once as the Prime had 4 digits worth of stock on dealer lots yet in the US
- Sales…for both April and May, the Prius Prime was the most popular selling plug-in for America
As to that first count, inventory hit 3-month lows for the Prime in June (averaging less than 700 units for the month), as Toyota looked to fill in inventory at home and around the world, and the result showed in the US, with “just” 1,619 sold.
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.
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.
Sales improved slightly in June, with 567 sold, but that number is still lower than the 608 (of the 22 kWh version) sold a year ago.
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.
While April seemed to be the month of the 60 kWh Model S cars being delivered (as the base model was officially discontinued on April 17th), May had to be the 75 kWh month, as the former mid-grade trim level took over. And while one might think, “hey, why shouldn’t the 75 kWh model be the most popular as it is now the least expensive Tesla”, that really isn’t the reason why we state that.
It was the apparent near absence of 100 kWh production early in the month (as we also saw in April…which at the time we thought was a reflection of getting 60 kWh cars out the door). This lack of production meant very little high-end deliveries in the US for the company in May.
…but they came in June, according to our estimates, about 40%of the Model S sedans delivered in June were of the 100 kWh variety, about as high as we have ever seen.
With that said, we didn’t see the normal “end of quarter” rush in the US as we have had in the past. Yes, more deliveries were made in June (we estimate that number at 2,350), but Tesla for whatever reason wasn’t pushing them out the door as aggressively as would normally be the case.
Perhaps a focus on the Model 3, or having already bagged 25,000 sales in Q1 gave the company some breathing room to deliver a few less in Q2. Who can say for sure. What we can say is that we saw more than few pending deliveries that were expected in June get moved to July – again, an oddity for Tesla at quarter’s end.
Internationally, the early returns/impressions are that June volumes were decently in excess of April and May’s results.
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.
After a slow April (with the focus on the wind-down on the 60 kWh battery options), the Model X seemed to push back to the forefront with Tesla at its Fremont facility in May…slightly outselling the Model S even for the month.
Like the Model S, Tesla didn’t have the same drive/”end of quarter” panic to build and deliver the Model X as we have seen in the past, although estimated deliveries still peaked for the quarter during the month.
So, could the Model X make it two in a row in June outpacing its stablemate?
Early reports seemed like that would be the case, but a late month surge by the Model S gave it the win in our estimation, but it was close nonetheless. We peg June deliveries of the Model X at a still impressive 2,200 deliveries.
Our expectation for July looking at the orders and production ahead for the Model X, is that the sedan will once again widen the gap, as it would seem there are a fair number more Model S orders currently working their way through production at Tesla’s Fremont assembly facility today.
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).
Heading into May, everything was looking pretty swell for the Pacifica Hybrid, new customer orders began to arrive, dealer stock started to fill out…and then it stopped, as some “on road” issues were being reported (like not being operational, warning lights, etc). By mid-month the Pacifica Hybrid went back into the dreaded “additional quality check” hold and some of those patient customers from 2016 were forced to wait a bit longer for their 33 mile extended range van.
Some more vans did eventually rollout, but by June 10th a nationwide recall was underway, 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.
Nutshell: The whole launch was a mess front-to-back. Apparently at some point Chrysler decided they had enough of the 2017 retail model year Pacifica Hybrid, and suspended production for a time. Since then, there have been reports of some Hybrid production at the plant from mid-month to complete orders paced earlier in the year and for fleets – specifically about 500 units for Waymo (details).
Whatever they did (or did not) build since the recall, it wasn’t a lot … and who wants a 2017 MY Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid at this point? End of MY + roll-out “black eye” = pass (at least without a big pile of cash thrown on the hood). 2018 MY production of the Pacifica starts August 7th, 2017, so new model year copies should start showing up at dealers in late September.
Here is the official NHSTA recall on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifca Hybrid if interested further.
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). Anyway, we put June deliveries at 355 units.
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 adequately. A process which has finally started to take hold.
In April, 260 plug-in BMW 3 series cars were sold, but the real story was in May, as the car’s potential is starting to be realized as 475 were sold. Building on that strength, we are happy to again report that the 330e is finally hitting levels we expected the car to achieve when it first launched, as near 500 copies were sold in June (496).
On the inventory side, the 330e reached almost 900 units in stock in June, but the more recent strong demand forced that number back down exiting the month at around 650 cars.
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 a bit in April, moving 301 copies.
Moving into May, Audi maintained that lower level, with 294 sales of the popular plug-in; for June, sales rose, albeit slightly, to 324 copies.
For the year 2,120 A3 e-trons have sold, up 9% from the 1,942 moved through the first 6 months of 2016.
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 78 consecutive months of record year-over-year sales in the US.
Part of the reason for strong sales for the A3 e-tron is also the (relatively) low price. $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.
Well that, and 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 eked out a small gain in January, moving 606 copies, then got back to business in setting new personal bests.
Ford 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 just barely, with an even 1,000 sold.
Interestingly, and for no good reason we can find…other than lost sales to its stablemate (the C-Max Energi), the Fusion Energi pulled back some in June, selling 707 copies. Year to date, the model crossed the 5k market last month (5,057).
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 over the past few months; the Fusion Energi has 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 earlier this year…with “had” being the key word, as inventory surged ahead in May, crossing the 3,000 mark for the first time in several months and holding there in June, which could indicate higher sales ahead for the popular Energi model.
It had been hard to get a read on the sales demand for VW’s all-electric Golf for the most part of 2016, as as sales fluctuated quite a bit.
Heading into 2017 however, sales have normalized around the 300 level ahead of a new longer range version set to arrive imminently.
For April, 326 copies were sold, and somehow VW managed to best that in May, despite dwindling 2016 inventory, with 381 sales – a year-high. Unfortunately, May’s result just about depleted VW’s reserves ahead of the updated model, and just 232 were sold in June
As noted, some additional sales help is on the way, as Volkswagen is now offering an upgraded range on the original e-Golf platform (see our review of the new model here). With that said, we expected to see the new 2017 model in May, and it not only failed to appear then, but also was a “no show” in June.
We are just going to go ahead and assume (until proven otherwise) that VW has no intention of bringing the 2017 e-Golf to the US at this point, and will instead just being the 2018 MY version in a couple months time.
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…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.
In June, that trick was repeated, as the C-Max Energi sold an impressive 936 copies, 33% more than the Fusion Energi (707).
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 over the past few months of the year things really ratcheted up.
Heading into 2017 sales continued to remain robust for the 500e given the limited amount of inventory actually on hand (~300-400 units on average), peaking in January of all months at an estimated ~752 sales.
After a very strong first 5 months of the year, we estimate sales settled down a little bit in June with ~495 deliveries during the month. Look for 500e sales to dip a little bit over the Summer months as 2017 model year inventory things ahead of the 2018 model’s arrive this Fall (expected to be unchanged yet again).
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.
Check out our first drive review of the 13 mile AER BMW x5 xDrive40e here.