March 2016 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales In US Hit All-Time Record High

APR 4 2016 BY JAY COLE 60

Tesla Model X Volume Production And Deliveries Made Their Long-Awaited Appearance In The US During March

Tesla Model X Volume Production And Deliveries Made Their Long-Awaited Appearance In The US During March…a little late, but still welcome!

Plug-in electric vehicle sales have been on the rise of late – setting 5 consecutive monthly records, but March’s result was a whole other animal.  It was a beast.

An Audi A3 e-Tron In Whatever This Color Is Makes An Appearance At CES In Las Vegas Earlier In January

An Audi A3 e-Tron In Whatever This Color Is At CES From January…whatever it is, it worked as a new record amount was sold in March

While the prior four monthly records have seen small year-over year gains, ranging from 3.8% to 12%, March obliterated all previous results for the month.

And in so doing, also set a new all-time record for the United States for any month.

In total ~13,725 plug-ins were sold, which is 32.7% more than a year ago, and also slightly better than the previous US high water mark of 13,699  (a record that had been set during the scorching hot EV selling environment of December).

Powering the move this month, as is months prior, was Tesla.

After struggling (and being distracted by) bringing volume production of the Model X online for the first two months of the year, the company not only started to vigorously deliver its all-electric SUV, but an extraordinary volume of Model S sedans were also moved in a failed effort to hit company guidance for the first quarter (14,820 vs 16,000 sales estimated worldwide).

However, you need more than just Tesla clipping at a high pace to set an all-time record – especially out of season.  And this month, Ford also came up big, setting multi-year highs for Fusion Energi sales (1,238 cars sold), while contributing almost 2,000 plug-in sales cumulatively to the total for the month.

Other notable happenings during March:

*- the debut of Tesla Model 3 (details, specs, reveal live stream) sparked hundreds of thousands of reservations in just the first 72 hours.  However it, along with the earlier reveal of the 200 mile Chevy Bolt EV (details), has cast a pretty long shadow over the current crop of city-ranged all-electric vehicles (10 models), all of whom look to be headed for a decent size fall-offs in 2016.   Long range BEV = good, short range = bad

*- relative newcomers, the Audi A3 e-tron, Sonata PHV continued to build on their previous success, while the surprise surge of the month came from the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid, moving a solid 244 copies

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from March 2016

"Hi! Remember Me?" - the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid From The Floor Of The New York Auto Show This Month (InsideEVs/David Ringgold)

“Hi! Remember Me?” – the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid From The Floor Of The New York Auto Show This Month (InsideEVs/David Ringgold)

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla Motors* – 5,850
  2. General Motors – 2,221
  3. Ford – 1,958
  4. Nissan – 1,238
  5. BMW – 734

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In March*

  1. BEV – 8,255 – 60.1%
  2. PHEV – 5,770 – 39.9%

New 12 Month Highs Set In March By Model (previous 12 month high in brackets)

  • Tesla Model S* – 3,990 (3,600)
  • Tesla Model X* – 1,860 (400)
  • Ford Fusion Energi – 1,238 (1,058)
  • Audi A3 e-tron – 332 (327)
  • Hyundai Sonata PHV – 275 (200)
  • Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid – 244 (172)

(*) estimated

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

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

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60 Comments on "March 2016 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales In US Hit All-Time Record High"

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Tesla is getting it done!!

Add our Model S to the March count!!






Ohhh, I’m jealous! I hope you enjoy your Model S.

Stephen D

Good news. Sales finally are starting to really tick up again. The 1year rolling average has been stuck at around 10,000 since December 2014.


I though the BMW 330e landed last month? Did it get 0 sales


My prediction: Apr sales will be even stronger with tax returns and BEV awareness brought on by Model 3. I suspect many will lease while waiting for Model 3 even just to get a feel for BEV.


Plus the Volt should be available nationwide as well. (March was the start of the national rollout, but many dealerships still did not receive their full allotment of ’17 Volts till late in the month).


If GM markets it right, they could sell the Volt as something to lease while waiting for the Model 3. It has enough electric range for most people, its better looking as the old one, although not close to the Model 3, and cheaply enough. But they would have to deliver that notion to the hundreds of thousand waiting customers.


For some reason, the “beast” of 13,725 plug-ins sold seems pretty small now. 🙂


Especially when the Silverado alone accounted for nearly 50k sales in March. =/

MTN Ranger

For the rest of the year, I’m forecasting strong PHEV sales (Volt, Ford twins, etc) and 100 mile and lower range BEVs will take a steep drop. Tesla will be steadily increasing S and X production as the year goes on. The end of the year will see a few dozen Bolt EVs. I’m also guessing towards the end of the year we will see the new Leaf at one of the auto shows.


Yeah, the Model 3 and the Bolt have really dropped the floor from the less than 100 mile range EV market. The Model 3 is a long time away but looks awesome. The Bolt is less than a year away and is a much better value proposition than the sub 100 mile EVs.


And by extension of the falling demand for new BEVs and PHVs, the resale price for older BEVs with their now inferior performance will be in the likes of my profile (small budget, short daily journeys). I’m looking to pick up such an aftermarket car once it is reality.


Why wait? Off-lease 2013 Leafs with 24k miles are available below $10k.


EV’s & PHEV’s

Two different stories !!

David Murray

I think Volt sales can still go much higher. I called every Chevrolet dealer in DF/W today asking about Volts and nobody had one in stock.


Both Classic and Friendly are showing some online.


The article says:

“In total ~13,725 plug-ins were sold, which is 32.7% more than a year ago…”

Glad to see that EV sales in USA/Canada are on the rise again! But with worldwide sales going up significantly last year, it seemed pretty clear that the downward USA/Canada sales last year were an aberration, not the start of a trend. And it seems pretty clear the hiccup was caused by would-be buyers deferring in anticipation of 200+ mile EVs which are coming soon.

It seems pretty clear that Tesla and GM will be able to sell as many Model ≡’s and Bolts as they make, and then some. Now, if Nissan and BMW will up their ante and start producing 200+ mile BEVs, they can get a seat at the table too. (Aside to Nissan: Put an active thermal management system into the battery pack, for heaven’s sake!)


Yeah, sort of goes under the what were they thinking category, in regards to the lack of thermal management. A put off for me in a northern climate, also not good in extremely warm areas either.


I’m lucky in that I live in an area where I can pretty much get away without any thermal management system. But I do occasionally take long trips to places where it would be useful (and do have a few days a year where it would be beneficial).

It really does seem like something that every EV realy needs. There should be cooling to deal with really high temps and there should be heating to keep the battery warm at times for better performance. This is especially true for cars in cold climates that are plugged in . . . use that AC electricity to warm up the batteries or keep them warm while plugged in. That will maximize range without using battery power.


VW eGolf also lacks active thermal management. As someone who suffers from waiting for slow DCFC of not thermally managed EV, I will say Hallelujah when all EV get active thermal management.


While USA was down Canada was up last year 20-30% according to Jose at ev sales blog


Amen to the part in parens. Lack of active thermal management for the battery is the main reason we’re returning our Leaf in two months at lease end. Two capacity bars lost after 22K miles of gentle use and good care is just not acceptable. We’ve already leased a Spark EV as a stopgap replacement until Bolt, Model 3 (paid a deposit) and possible others are available.

Rick Danger

Spark EV sold almost as many as BMW i3 and it’s only sold in 3 states.
When will GM get serious???


GM spells serious B O L T. Serious start late this year.


Except Bolt (~$28K) will cost almost double of SparkEV in CA (~$15K). I doubt people will buy Bolt, but depending on pricing, I suspect many will lease it until they get Model 3.

Kootenay EV Family
I’d get a Bolt over a Spark for a few reasons: 1) Range! 2) Better looks 3) More practical size (both for people and stuff) 4) Minor point for most, but faster L2 charging on Bolt (a big positive where I live, with very few DCFC’s in places I like to go) 5) While they’ve only stated 50kW DCFC so far for the Bolt, I suspect that is because there are no DCFC’s out there that deliver more yet. I’m fairly certain they’ve designed it to accept something significantly higher. 6) Nicer interior on the Bolt (looks, finish, etc) I’m not slagging the Spark here either, just saying why I would buy a Bolt instead. I find your statement kind of like saying no one would buy a Camry because the Yaris is available… they aren’t really comparable in my view. Different needs + different ability to pay means the Camry does quite well. In fact I’m really considering how to jettison my Leaf so I can get a Bolt this fall. My workplace has not installed chargers (something I had [incorrectly] assumed they would be happy to do), so I have to walk 15 minutes from the nearest (acting… Read more »

SparkEV is bad in Canada since Canadian pricing is so high, but in CA it could be a great way to bridge until Model 3 and others. I think many will lease the Bolt for bridge to Model 3.

Sorry, I’m just not sold on Bolt; it’s way too expensive for what it offers. I think AWD Model 3 might serve you better if you can hold out that long.

mr. M

Spark EV pricing in California is heavily subsidized by GM for CARB reasons.

Please see Canadia pricing as reverence. Afterwards tell us why GM should offer them nationwide for the canadian price equivalent. This is not gona happen, wait for BOLT.


How much ZEV credit does GM need? They sold more Volt than Leaf, and would hardly need any more. Considering Fiat (and BMW) is getting away with 1/4 or less of EV sales compared to GM, I suspect GM doesn’t need SparkEV for ZEV compliance. Frankly, I’m (pleasantly) surprised that they continue to sell SparkEV and eating into federal tax credit that could go toward Bolt.

As for pricing, Bolt will be about $12K USD more than SparkEV. To see how much Bolt will be in Canada, add $16K CAD to SparkEV price of $33K CAD = $49K CAD. But if you straight convert $37.5K USD = $50K CAD

That is a lot of money compared to Leaf at $31K CAD. Will GM reduce Bolt price in Canada? Unlikely, given it’s huge 60 kWh battery.

Eric Cote

No mention of the Volt? Highest-selling non-Tesla plug-in this month! 😉 😉


I just had a colleague tell me that she has reserved a Tesla III. She has never even mentioned an interest in electric cars and suddenly she is talking about how much she wants to get a Tesla.
Tesla is reaching people that GM and Nissan never had a chance to get to.

philip d

I waited in line on Thursday morning to put my reservation in and I have to admit I was sort of expecting an entire line full of mostly middle aged guys.

I was shocked. It couldn’t have been a more diverse group and this was in GA. The woman in front of me was 70 years old and drove a Leaf. She certainly wasn’t rich. There was a guy in front of me who already owns his and hers Teslas with his wife. Then there were a couple of friends waiting together behind me that were younger middle eastern guys. One of them worked for Porsche.

Tyler Hilliard

Wow. More Model X sold than Volts this month. Tesla is kicking butt.

Doesn’t surprise me with all the press they get in social media.


Look at the chart again.
That wasn’t the case.(close but no cigar)
Besides the 2017 Volt JUST became available nationally. Good things coming in future months starting in April.


Press release from Tesla, Q1 sale numbers:


so basically Tesla outsold Nissan, GM and Ford put together.
Because of course there is no demand for EV’s – according to your local dealer


With compliance cars, it’s also strange with how the car makers allocate the EVs.

We bought a Spark EV in March, and in our area, those cars were very easy to find. Our local dealer had more than 20 of them in stock, and they expected to move them very quickly because of the lease deal they had going ($80/month for 3 years, with the incentives, the drive off cost was a net $1,000 rebate to us — essentially a free car for the first year).

But, in Southern California, most dealers did not have any inventory.

With the Spark EV, I guess the availability also varies because the production occurs intermittently in batches. And being a compliance car, it’s not even available outside of CA, OR, and MD.


…the magic numbers have been reached… 200 (maybe plus) miles eliminates most range anxiety for the urban commuter/grocery getter crowd, the cars look good, and the price is affordable at around $35grand. For now, it’s a race between the Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt. Nobody is going to “Kill the Electric Car” ..not now anyway.


Well, between Bolt and Model 3 … and future 200 mile Leaf and BMW will have to answer with a 150+ mile i3, or go home.


It’s not as good as it might seem.

Most of the additional sales this month were brought in by Tesla, if you compare March 2015 with March 2016 and leave out the Tesla sales, nothing really has changed. Although there are new models on the market and Nissan got the 30kWh Leaf and GM the new Volt.

Another interesting fact is, that Tesla almost sold more plug-ins than GM, Ford, Nissan and BMW combined. They had a 42% market share in March and the X isn’t even at full capacity.


I just don’t understand Nissan, they were so far ahead and now they are no where, how can they still be offering only 1 plugin option in the US? I’ve been waiting for something from them for months but….. nothing? No phev’s, no massive price cut, no nothing – 30 kWh’s is fine but really after 6 years that’s it? If all we get is the leaf 2 in 18 months then nissan have completely dropped the ball. For the first 4 years they have had no completion a complete open playing field then after 6 years the competition gradually turns up and what have they got….. 30 kWh leaf? Great, I love our leaf but really look at the list, by 2017 the leaf will be lucky to stay in the top 5.


Nissan thought this was going to be like the car business. It’s actually like the computer business. You have to plan to move fast from the start.

Ron M

It’s amazing that some people are comparing EV’s to the big three in sales. EV’s have only been an alternative for a few years compared to over a hundred years for most of the combustion engine.


Jay, nice work once again!

Just a little suggestion that I have already made in the past: you should include the EV market share to put thing into perspective against the overall market.

This March is a record month, with a great growth, but what about the market in general, is the growth greater? Is the market share at a record level or just the absolute number of cars?


Can you add 2 rows for %BEV and %PHEV? Or one row of one of those %s.

I think it would be nice to see the trend of BEV vs PHEV as time progresses.



you guys not adding the big yellow line on the second graph to show mar 16 sales?


One of those Spark EV sales came from us. Local dealership was offering an $80/month three-year lease. With $2,500 in rebates and incentives, they waived the $1,500 drive-off and we still get $1,000 back.

With free maintenance and the money we save on gas alone, it’s like we’re getting paid to drive the car over the first year.

Yes, it’s a CARB compliance deal we got. But, the car itself is very impressive with how the motor performs. The torque is very addictive. It looks like with the specs that came out today, the Bolt motor dialed back the torque and increased the drive ratio. So, the motor will be spinning a lot faster on the Bolt.

When the three-year lease is up, we were hoping to also have the Model 3 available to consider as a replacement. But, I have my doubts about whether Tesla will have enough volume to meet demand even at that point. From our experience so far, the Bolt will definitely get a serious look.