March 2016 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

2 years ago by Jay Cole 31

September's Results Won't Surpass The All-Time Best Set In August - But Still Very Strong

Another Month Of Plug-In Sales In The US- Another Record

We can now officially end the “low gas prices hurt plug-in vehicles sales” argument as March banks a 5th consecutive monthly record in the US.

Chevrolet Volt Re-Takes The US All-Time Sales Crown Away From The Nissan LEAF In March

Chevrolet Volt Re-Takes The US All-Time Sales Crown Away From The Nissan LEAF In March

Additionally, March had another unexpected bonus surprise, a new all-time record for the US.

For March, and estimated ~13,725 plug-ins were sold, good for an impressive 32.7% increase over a year ago – and also just better than the previous all-time record set this past December of 13,699.

Previously in February 7,751 plug-ins were sold, which was a 12% improvement from the year prior.

For the year to date, ~27,667 EVs have moved, compared to 23,583 in 2015, a 18% improvement.

The bulk of the improvement in sales this month came from the relatively new faces to the segment, lead by the Model X, which (after just 5+ months of limited production) finally got its act straight and delivered hardcore in the last 3 weeks of the quarter.  Sister-car, the Tesla Model S was also delivered in near record numbers as Tesla looked to make up for lost time early in the quarter ramping up Model X production.

Of note: A strong selling month for the Chevrolet Volt, and another ‘meh’ result for the Nissan LEAF has resulted in the Volt retaking the all-time plug-in sales leaf for the US (92,737 for the Volt to 92,522 for the LEAF)

Other new plug-in offerings adding to the totals this year was the Audi A3 e-tron, Hyundai Sonata PHV, Volvo XC90 T8, BMW X5 plug-in.

Also of interest this month:

*- GM switched over to new 2017 model year inventory of the Chevrolet Volt on February 1st, and deliveries have been fast and furious, pushing the model to a new yearly high in March

*- Nissan continues to struggle stocking the 30 kWh (107 mile) LEAF in the US, and it hurt sales in the first quarter.  The question now is can they get their act straight heading into Spring, or will this be a long-running story of the 2016 model year LEAF?

*- the Ford Fusion Energi managed to pass the Nissan LEAF for monthly sales for the first time in its history in February, can it make it two in a row?  (It could not…but it almost did)

*-  BMW logged back-to-back disaster months with the BMW i3 so far in 2016 (182 and 242 sold in 2015 respectively vs 670 and 1,089 in the same two months in 2015), so we wondered if the company could get back on track in March…unfortunately while there was some slight improvement, it was still fairly disastrous once again

As for the fuel cell Toyota Mirai (which does not appear on our sales chart because it does not plug-in), 41 were sold in March.

Last update: Monday, April 4th, @ 12:29 PM

Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.  Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is both the 2016 YTD chart as well as the complete 2015 results.

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

Below: Individual sales reports on each plug-in brand for the US

 

Nest Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Next Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: 

The arrival of deeper, national inventory of the 2017 edition of the Volt helped push sales 192% higher in March, as GM logged 1,865 Volt sales.

This result propelled the Volt back to the top of the all-time plug-in sales race for the US by 215 cars (92,737 for the Volt to 92,522 for the LEAF)

Production of the new, slightly improved 2017 edition Volt (that is finally) available nationwide) kicked off the first week of February and GM surprised us with how quickly they got copies to dealers.

We had expect it might take until April for national inventories to start fill out, but by the mid-point of March Chevy had already passed the 3,000 “on-hand’ mark, meaning we should start seeing numbers that represent the car’s true demand level soon.

GM ended 2015 having sold 15,393 Volts in total, off some 18% from 2014.  However, we do expect the plug-in Chevy to set records in 2016 with the new 53 mile edition.

 

 

 

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF:  Nissan had its “best” result of the year, but the 1,246 LEAFs sold in March was nothing to write home about, as historically it was a disappointment.

March was off by about a third from 2015, when 1,817 LEAFs were moved.

Previously in February, Nissan logged just 930 sales during the month – which was down 22% from the year prior.

On the plus side (kinda) heading into the Spring, inventories have continued to expand…albeit at a pretty slow pace.

But perhaps more important than the small jump in inventory was the mak-up of the inventory itself. For the first time since the launch of the 2016 model, more LEAFs are now stocked of the longer range/107 miles variety than that of the base (84 mile).

Theoretically also helping sales going forward, Nissan broke its the near-MSRP pricing in this winter, offering deeper discounts and more attractive leasing options.

Overall last year, Nissan closed the year off some 43% in total, selling 17,269 LEAFs this year, versus an all-time best of 30,200 in 2014.  The only direct for sales in 2016 one would think would be up.

Separately (and ultimately more importantly) in November we got a look at Nissan’s new IDS Concept from Japan – which was basically a ‘nod and a wink’ to the new e-technology that will be found in the next generation LEAF.

The IDS Concept houses a 60 kWh NMC battery pack good for more than 200 miles (320 km) of real world/EPA driving.

 

 

2014 Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR: Slow and steady the Cadillac ELR keeps selling in acceptable numbers (at least to GM).

For March 104 were sold, which was a slight gain over the 92 moved in 2015.

Previously this year, 91 were sold in February, 67 in January…so it is easy to spot the sales range for the car going forward.  ~100ish

 

Overall for 2015, 1,024 were moved, which was off 22% from the 1,310 sold in 2014.

Going forward, dealer acceptance of the 2016 ELR may hinder sales as much as anything, after getting burned with a far too high MSRP on previous model year (2014) pricing.

Curiously, inventory of the ELR increased by about 50% during February, touching close to 300 units for the first time this model year, but as that is not a huge level, it still seems that the sales fate of the ELR will be range-bound (no pun intended) as it rides out this last model year.

The ELR will shortly be replaced with the much larger CT6 plug-in sedan (details)

The 2016 ELR does gain some performance over the 2014 model (0-60mph comes up in 6.4 seconds – 1.5 seconds than the older model), despite still using the 17.1 kWh battery found in the current Chevrolet Volt. The Cadillac also gets a $9,000 MSRP haircut (now starting at $65,995), which should help it move a little more product.

 

 

 

2015 BMW i3

BMW i3

BMW i3: 

Make the pain stop!

We thought January was the “end of the world” when it came to plug-in sales for BMW, as somehow…and we aren’t even sure how this is possible, the company sold just 182 copies, off some 72% or so.

We then figured February would bounce back – it did not (248 sold), so March surely would see a significant jump in sales right?  No again.

Just 332 were sold, which granted is an improvement over the first two months of the year, but also still down 64% from a year ago.

What could be the reason for the drop?  BMW doesn’t seem to know as the brand overall has suffered some serious setbacks each month this year.  However, specific to the i3’s much steeper slide, it might be anticipation for that new, longer range 2017 i3 edition that begins production in June for a fall release.  The new model is expected to have upwards of 120+ miles of range – a near 50% increase over today’s model.

BMW had on average about ~1,400 i3s in stock during March.

For 2015, BMW sold 11,024 i3s, which made it the 6th plug-in to have reached the 5-digit mark in 2015 (Volt, LEAF, Prius PHV, Model S, Fusion Energi). In 2014, BMW sold 6,092 i3s, good for the 7th best overall spot for plug-in sales in America…not bad considering it was only available for 7 full months in the US.

Inventory of the BMW i3 fell to a new low for the current model year, with only just over 1,000 copies available heading into March.

 

 

 

 

2014 Tesla Model S

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 2015 Model S sales chart was adjusted (one time – after the completion of the full year of estimates) by 498 units to compensate for confirmed full year numbers.  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.

Welcome to March, the last month of the quarter, which means its “go time” for Tesla’s domestic operations.

And this month was like no other, as the company had to make up for ground lost earlier this year, due to some difficulties getting the production facilities Model X-capable.

As such, Tesla was building the Model S hard and fast in March.  We heard from one customer who says he went from order to delivery in just 14 days during the month, with many others were saying ~3 weeks.

It appears to us Tesla burned through every order they had and then some during the month.   In so doing, we estimate ~3,990 Model S sales during the month.

Thankfully, being the last month of the quarter we should get some confirmed global sales reports from the company to see if the US Model S (and X) push was enough to hit the magic “16,000” Tesla vehicles sold during Q1 that the company had forecast earlier.

Sidenote:  For the lucky few at the end of the month – new Model S consoles with cell phone holder shipped!

 

 

 

 

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

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)

The Tesla Model X arrived in September, with a big launch party – of which you can check out the full video of (as well as newly released details/specs) here.

Then not a heck of a lot happened…until March.

 

The first week of March seen an inordinate amount of Model X SUVs head into production, the 2nd week upped the ante again.  And this time, no long drawn out production delays between the start of assembly and actual deliveries, the Model X apparently hit its production (and Quality Control) slide.

By the second half of the month, reports of “dozens” of Model X vehicles for delivery were being reported at individual Tesla stores.

An while this is the first real volume month for the Model X and our first take at pegging deliveries for the plug-in SUV, we imagine Tesla will be breaking out Model X sales during its end of Q1 delivery report.

Until then, we put Model X deliveries at an estimated ~1,860 units in March.

Model X Q1 update (April 5th, 4:30 pm):  While it doesn’t bring us a lot of pleasure to be right (or at least within a couple hundred units of pegging the Model X sales for the January to March time period), Tesla has noted a Q1 global shortfall of 1,120 sales from earlier 16,000 sale guidance 14,820 sold.  

Tesla blame their own “hubris” and part supplier for the Model X, for the company’s inability to deliver in volume before March.  As part of that statement (full story here), Tesla said it sold ~2,400 Model X SUVs in Q1 proper.

 

 

 

Volvo XC90 T8 PHV

Volvo XC90 T8 PHV

Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV: 

The first (and widely anticipated) plug-in offering from Volvo to be offered in the US arrived late December, and the company posted 226 sales in its first full month in January, then followed that up with a sturdy 176 units moved in February.

March continued to be sold, with 178 sold. An impressive debut despite limited inventory so far in the US.

Although we have to say, the numbers didn’t surprise us too much, after watching the model sell well in Europe last year.  It is still a good bet that many in the US will be pleasantly surprised with how well the plug-in XC90 is received.

The Volvo XC90 T8 (details) plug-in is rated at 394 hp, and gets 14 miles of estimated range (0-12 in pure all-electric mode) via a 9.2 kWh battery, and is the first to offer a standard 240v/120v dual charging cord set.  Pricing starts at $68,100 in the US.

It will be interesting to see how much demand their is for the first extended range PHEV in America, as Volvo already under-estimate demand for the XC90 plug-in by a factor of 5 in Europe.

 

 

 

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet SPARK EV:  

With the 2016 edition finally arriving in December, the Spark EV was once again free to sell at a more appropriate level to demand.

Sales continue to rise for the Spark EV with new inventory as 252 were sold in March, up 67% – an impressive result for the regional/compliance offering.

 

During March, inventory virtually exploded after being locked in a production-restrained range for more than 6 months as some ~500 copies are now available to be purchased (and who knows how many more are penned up by GM waiting to find a dealer-home).

Earlier last year, GM confirmed the Spark EV would live on (in first generation trim) for one more year (2016) while waiting on the Chevrolet Bolt to arrive in 2017, however the Spark EV is only build in South Korea and production is sporadic at best.

In 2015, GM sold 2,629 Spark EVs in the US, impressive considering the improvement over 2014 numbers, when 1,145 were moved.

 

 

2017 BMW 330e - Like All Plug-Ins Sold In The US, It Wisely Is Offered In Black

2017 BMW 330e – Like All Plug-Ins Sold In The US, It Wisely Is Offered In Black

BMW 330e:

The latest offering to hit the US plug-in market is the new BMW 330e, the plug-in hybrid version of the company’s high selling 3 series offering.

The 330e (from $44,695 including DST), arrived a couple weeks later than anticipated, but did manage to still show up on dealer lots at the very end of the month.  We don’t yet have a report on the quantity (if any) were physically sold in March.

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.

The model also features a SAVE BATTERY mode:

If the high-voltage battery’s charge is below 50 percent, the battery is charged to 50 percent by the combustion engine. If over 50 percent of battery charge remains, the charge level is “frozen”, so that the remaining electric energy can be used for part of the upcoming journey.

Check out the new BMW 330e’s online configurator here.

 

 

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron:  

We have always felt that the A3 e-tron had a real shot to be the “dark horse” surprise seller of 2016, and in the plug-ins first couple months on the market, it has not not disappointed.

During March, 332 were moved – a new record for the Audi.

Previously this year, in February, 248 A3 plug-in hybrids were moved, after selling 327 in January, keeping the plug-in solidly in the “top 10” plug-in sellers for 2016 in the US.

Originally, the plug-in Audi was scheduled to arrive as a week 43 arrival (October 19 through 26), but a certification problem with California regulators kept a growing inventory penned up until the very last week of the year.

Part of the reason for strong sales for the A3 e-tron is the (relatively) low price. $37,900 gets you the Audi badge, 8.8 kWh of battery – good for 22-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 $2,800 of the base MSRP of the A3.

Check out our own early/pre-delivery review on the Audi A3 e-tron here.

 

 

 

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi: 

A month ago Ford accomplished something with the Fusion Energi that few other models can boast – they bested the Nissan LEAF for sales during February!

And they almost did it again in March.

Ford sold 1,238 plug-in Fusions in March, which is not only a 2016 high, but a multi-year high.  One has to go back to 2014 to find a better result (June 2014-1,939)

 

Looking at the inventory and it is easy to see why (and how) so many Fusion plug-ins have sold over the past few months;  the Fusion Energi has often won the crown for the “most stocked” EV in the US.  For March, ford reached the apex of inventory on hand closing in on some ~5,000 units of availability.

This overstock, may be a result of a temporary hiatus in production, as  a new refreshed 2017 Fusion Energi is on the way this Fall.

For 2015, 9,750 Fusion Energis were sold, which was off by about 15% from 2014, however the model is showing a lot more strength of late than it was a year ago.  The 2016 outlook for sales is pretty strong for the extended range Ford.

The Fusion Energi basically offers the same package as the C-Max Energi, but in a larger sedan package. The third plug-in to be offered from Ford has been rated by the EPA at a combined 88 MPGe and has an electric range of 19 miles.

 

 

2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In: 

Whoosh – is the sound of Prius PHV sales as the remaining inventory circles the drain. It is all over. See you in late 2016 as the all-new Toyota Prius Prime hits the market (full details).

Toyota is just lucky that the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is still officially on the market, because otherwise the Prius PHV would find itself at the very bottom of the plug-in sales charts for 2016.

For March just 7 copies were sold.  Previous result this year included 6 sales in February, and 10 in January.

That being said, if the Prius Prime actually arrives in ~November as expected, the company could still likely end the year with more than 5,000 sales on the book, as the new 22 mile Prius plug-in is expected to compete for the sales crown in 2017.

Some industry insiders think upwards of 50,000 could be sold during its first full year on the market…provided that is that Toyota decides to fully stock it (but we think they will).

In 2015, just 4,191 were sold, which was off almost 70% from the 13,164 in 2014. We would like to note this was not a reflection of US demand for the car, as we feel they would easily buy 800-1,200 copies a month, it is simply the fact production of the current car ended this past summer – and Toyota messed up making a seamless transition to the next generation model as it did for the regular hybrid.

Our prediction going forward, is there isn’t any left for all of 2016 – and every low volume plug-in will clean the Prius PHV’s ‘sales clock‘ this year until the company makes up some slight ground at year’s end wioth the new Prime – which is a shame, because the demand to move a good volume has never waned with the US public, only Toyota’s desire to sell them.

 

 

Mercedes S550 Plug-In Hybrid

Mercedes S550 Plug-In Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz S550:  

When it comes to plug-in luxury, there is a new boss in town! Having arrived in late Summer of 2015, the Mercedes S550 presents a level of refinement previously unseen in the EV segment for the US.

However in March, no one wanted plug-in luxury…at least if it also ran most of the time on petrol, as Mercedes sold exactly zero S550Hs after moving 19 units in both February and March.

The large Mercedes plug-in’s “best ever” month came late in 2015, as 35 copies sold in December,

UPDATE: Despite the S550 PHV’s recent arrival in the US, the new 2016s are here! The only issue with that for consumers might be that they are unchanged in every way but pricing. The 2016 retails higher – at $95,650

Despite its huge footprint, and pretty heavy weight (just north of 5,000lbs), the electric motor and turbo 6 cylinder still manage to zip the Mercedes to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, while giving the car 24 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway.

Range is rated at 12+ miles with the Prius-like “electric + gas” tag, meaning you have to drive with a certain light-footedness to get the 20 miles on just electricity. The S550 has a 8 kWh battery on board, so expect about a $4,700 federal tax credit with your purchase.

 

 

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV ... in black

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV (… in black)

Hyundai Sonata PHV: 

We didn’t expect to see the plug-in Sonata arrive in the US until the very last couple weeks of the year, yet there it was at a dealership we passed by in late November.

January was the first month the Sonata plug-in was even decently stocked, and Hyundai sold ~175 copies of the Sonata plug-in, indicating it will be a strong player in the EV space for 2016.

For February, sales grew slightly in the US, to an even 200 units, and the trend continued higher in March with some 275 sold.

The Sonata PHV should be a decent seller in the US as it offers an attractive mid-size PHEV value. The Hyundai has been rated at 27 miles of range and pricing starts at $34,600.

The only question now is if Hyundai will inventory it like sister-company Kia with the Soul EV (as in hardly at all). During March about ~500 showroom copies on average were available in limited states – although the car is available by customer order in all 50 states.

With $4,919 dollar worth of federal credit also on the table thanks to the car’s 9.8 kWh battery, the effective $29,681 price-point (+dst) is acceptable; however, when factored into a lease, it makes the plug-in version of Sonata almost as inexpensive as the petrol version.

 

 

 

 

Volkswagen e-Golf Comes To The US In November

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf:

Mush like the 2016 LEAF, the VW finds itself in a bit of a sales hangover.

Is it the high profile debuts of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3?  Is it an inventory situation?  Or just winter pathy?

Whatever it is…it isn’t good, as just 86 e-Golfs were moved – a year low.

These results were despite a recently introduced a new, less expensive SE trim level. The new trim level brings the base starting price of the e-Golf down to $29,815.

Back to the topic at hand (low sales), if we had to point the finger at one root cause, it actually would not be the coming new arrivals in the all-electric segment, but moreso the fact Volkswagen only had (on average) about ~300 copies of the e-Golf to sell in March…and the early returns for April is that the inventory situation is likely to stay low.

The e-Golf has been rated at 83 miles by the EPA and carries a 24.2 kWh LEAF-like (base) battery.

 

 

 

 

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi: 

Both of Ford’s plug-in hybrid products are having a revival of sorts of late.

And while the C-Max will never enjoy the sales success of its brother (Fusion Energi), a very respectable 610 copies were moved in March – the best result for the brand since November (63(

Overall, the ‘standard’ C-Max sales in the US have been fairly woeful since Ford launched the car…and the C-Max Energi pays the price each month for that lack of interest, usually selling mre than a third of the net cars for the model.

We should note that unlike its sister car the Fusion Energi, the C-Max Energi has a limited ceiling for sales as the inventory is much more tightly controlled to about 1/3 that of the Fusion. Heading into April, about ~1,300 were in stock – still a respectable amount.

For 2015, 7,591 C-Max Energis have been sold, which lagged 2014 when Ford sold 8,433. In 2013, the high water mark for the C-Max Energi was set in October as 1,092 plug-ins sold. It still would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi.

 

 

 

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED (B250e):

Perhaps it has because the bar has been continually lowered for the B-Class ED (now actually named the B250e), but March sales surprised us, as 66 were sold…which isn’t a lot.

But still much better than the 37 moved in February.

 

The B-Class has a bit of a rough go since its entry to the US. The original model year run (2014) was extremely short, the 2015 edition came late and without much fanfare or inventory, and the 2016 edition was hit early with a stop sale (which has now been resolved) order last Fall.

It appears now that Mercedes has decided to make the B-Class a limited offering in the US until a new, longer range model arrives in the future (more on that below), as national inventories struggle to stay above the 3 -digit level.

Last Fall we also heard news (via a normally very reliable source) that Mercedes was about to get serious with the B-Class ED, giving it an estimated 300 mile (NEDC) ~225 mile EPA range upgrade in next generation trim, while also removing the Tesla drivetrain/components to bring costs down. It seems as though the B-Class ED may be one of the “ones to watch” heading into the 2nd generation wars in a couple year’s time.

 

 

BMW i8 Finally Arrives In US In August!

BMW i8

BMW i8: 

After selling an almost unfathomable 656 i8s in December, sales plummeted a zillion-percent (technical term) to just 32 in January, perhaps in sympathy with its sister plug-in, the i3.

February saw a little improvement, and ultimately March built on that, selling 89 copies during the month – a new year high.

While 89 is still not near historical averages, it does only represent a drop of 38%…which for BMW these days, is pretty good.

How did this happen? Was it the new calendar year? The bad weather? Did BMW salespeople refuse to let potential i8 buyers in the showroom? Who can tell…lets just hope the situation rectifies itself this Spring!

As for that December figure of 656, that was a new record.

The old record was just 217 units, so to say this result was unexpected would be a massive understatement.

For 2015, BMW sold 2,265 i8s. A more than respectable amount, given the 6-figure price-point.

Despite the extremely low January and February sales results, one can’t put the blame on inventory issues as the model has been well-stocked over the past few months. Heading into April about ~800 copies are available to be purchased – pretty close to a new all-time high.

 

 

 

2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: 

The Panamera S e-Hybrid seems not able to recover from the arrival of sister SUV, the Cayenne S e-Hybrid.

In March, 23 were sold – sad faces all around for the plug-n Porsche.

Previously in February, the Panamera S e-Hybrid rebounded slightly selling 33 copies, which 6 more than in January, but the car is destined to stay low at this point.

Basically, the upcoming refresh probably can’t come soon enough.

The high mark for sales on the Panamera was set in the very first month it went on sale, with an amazing 141 sold in January of 2014.

The Panamera S E-Hybrid has a combined 416 hp output (333 hp electric) and can get north of 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph. Pricing starts at $99,000. Also of interest, the S E-Hybrid is currently available at all Porsche dealers nationwide – a rare thing these days.

 

 

 

 

2015 Porsche Cayenne S e-Hrybrid

Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid: 

While the Panamera S e-Hybrid struggles to prove viability, the Cayenne plug-in continues to put more butts in the seats.

Amazingly, the Porsche has only strengthened sales since December (traditionally the easiest month to sell a vehicle with a plug).

In January 145 were sold (after moving 137 in December), but somehow Porsche managed to sell 172 in February – which was a new all-time record; that is until March when a very surprising 244 sold! …truthfully, we are unsure how such a thing could have happened. But it did.

And while the e-drivetrain/abilities of the Cayenne and Panamara are very similar, Porsche customers have spoken – they want the Cayenne, as sales of the plug-in SUV outnumber the sedan usually by a ratio of about 5-to-1.

Even Porsche seems to have noticed, as inventory of the plug-in SUV approached 400 units for the first time in the US heading into January and stayed close to 400 through the end of March.

 

 

 

2014 Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e: 

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).

The all-electric Fiat has been showing signs of renewed life after a few months of lower sales, for March we estimate that 355 500es were sold – a new high for 2016.

The all-time high-water mark was an estimated 1,310 estimated sales of the 500e in March.

 

 

 

 

BMW X5 xDrive40e

x5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e: 

Showing that early success was no fluke (and that a plug-in hybrid can actually sell this year with a BMW badge on the front), the company managed to sell another 313 copies in March.

This month’s result keeps the X5 plug-in inside the “top 10” best sellers for the US, right ahead of the…wait for it…wait…BMW i3.  Who would have guessed?

Earlier proving that everyone loves an SUV (at least in America), the BMW X5 xDRIVE40e (which we will now just call the X5 plug-in…because its easier) sold a massive 607 copies in December in just its second full month on the market.

Looking at the potential for future sales, more than ~1,000 copies are now on hand heading into April – very close to an all-time high, so we expect some decent numbers going forward.

Can the X5 plug-in break into the top the “top 7” sellers in the US in 2016? A couple of months ago we probably would have said that was highly unlikely, but now, who knows, sale could take off even higher from here.

Check out our first drive review of the 13 mile AER BMW x5 xDrive40e here.

 

 

 

As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

smart ED – As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

SMART ForTwo ED:  

Despite having a model lineup that is half-convertible, smart had a sales resurgence in the last two months of 2015.

Unfortunately, that did not continue into 2016, as the 2 seat EV slumped to 70 sales in March (after posting results of  54 sales in February and 48 in January).

Still, there is monthly improvement so far in 2016…and the summer’s “drop top” weather is on the horizon.

In December and November smart sold 179 and 178 copies (respectively). December’s result was also the best for 2015, although far short of the all-time record set in December of 2014 when 351 were sold.

The smart Ed ends 2015 with 1,387 sold – good for the 13th on the top selling plug-ins list for America.

The smart ED is the first plug-in for America to be offered with a “battery rental” option, which brings the cost of the Smart ED down to $19,990, but adds a $80 month battery rental payment, as well as includes a wider (and longer) battery warranty. Check out all the specs, options and pricing here. The 2-seat Smart electric car gets 68 miles of range from a 17.6 kWh battery.

 

 

Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric:  

/yawn

Another month, another nap for those interesting in following the sales progress of Ford’s first all-electric offering.

The Ford Focus is one of the longest available electric cars on the US market – and March marked the EV’s 48th month to log sales in America, yet it never strays more than ~100 units from selling 150 copies per month.

Seriously – never more than 100. It seems almost impossible…yet there it is…the Focus Electric, selling 100ish cars month in and month out.

If one wants to find something positive about the low selling, yet nationally available Focus Electric, one could point to the 110 sales this month as being the first time the model has eclipsed 3-digits in 5 months (in October 126 were sold).  Yippie!

The model has sold between 53 and 198 sales per month in 45 of the past 46 months. With just one of those months passing the 200 level ever (August 2014 -264)

 

 

2015 Kia Soul EV Went On Sale In Mid-October

Kia Soul EV

Kia SOUL EV: 

Kia seems to be emulating the Focus Electric with the plug-in Soul EV…and that is not a good thing.

Never straying far from the 100 unit mark during in its first full year on the market, Kia moved 79 Soul EVs in March, after selling 60 in February and 81 in January.

The 2015 high was set in October, but we have to temper our excitement for the achievement as that was only 109 units, and quite frankly, it should be doing much, much better.

Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US?

A note on the Kia numbers: Kia has decided to not split out data on the Soul EV from the regular petrol version, despite several attempts by ourselves to convince them it would be a good idea to do that. As Kia is one of the OEMs we don’t have a strong relationship with, we defer to our friends at HybridCars.com to provide the sales info.

The cute-ute from Hyundai/Kia has a more than decent 93 miles of range (with more 103 miles of range in the city), and a price tag of $33,700 (full details, specs and picture can be found here). We expect the advent of the Kia Optima plug-in and an unnamed Hyundai all-electric sedan to be introduced over the next 12 months or so to signal the end of the Soul EV by 2017.

 

OTHERS: Plug-in vehicles that have ended sales/production are included in our chart under this heading. They include (but are not limited to) the Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda Accord PHV, Porsche 918 Spyder

 

BELOW: Chart of 2016 results so far, as well as 2015 year end results:

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

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Dat

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – Tesla Full Year Model S/X Numbers Confirmed Q4-2015, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

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31 responses to "March 2016 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

  1. MTN Ranger says:

    Big sales increase for Tesla!

    1. David Murray says:

      Indeed.. With two good-volume products they will likely be #1 EV manufacturer for this year. And when the Model-3 comes out, they will definitely stay at the top.

      1. Renault-Nissan is likely to pass the 100000 mark this year.

    2. Just means Tesla will reach the 200k tax mark earlier, then the Model 3 reservers wish.

  2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Wow, this article has been up for five hours, and not a single comment before mine? I guess everyone’s preoccupied with arguing over discussing the Tesla Model ≡! 🙂

    * * * * *

    Great to see Tesla finally show a large number of Model X sales. And WOW! look at the number for the Model S! Yeah, I know, it’s the end of a quarter, and we expect North American deliveries to peak this month. But still, it’s great to see Tesla sell ~5850 cars in a single month!

    The idea that Tesla could grow to the size of Ford within a decade or so… that’s starting to look more like something that could actually happen.

    Go Tesla!

    1. David Murray says:

      I suspect the real problem has been the continuous database errors that this website has been experiencing today. Nobody has been able to comment.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        I imagine the InsideEVs website servers aren’t equipped to handle as much traffic as it’s getting today.

        Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be much point in complaining about the fact that I have to re-enter my screen name and e-mail every time I want to Reply to someone else’s comment. I imagine the staff here is aware of the problem, and I’m sure they’ll fix it as soon as they can.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          You guys are close, we actually turned the comments off this thread (due to its intensive nature) and only hosted the sales graphs at the “hard link” tab at the top of the site to ease the load.

          We have a full/massive server upgrade coming, and had hoped to get it done before Model 3/sales apocalypse, but it has slip until early next week.

          Lots of strain past 24 hours…now with things settled and heading into the weekend, everything is back to normal (and next week we will be ‘volume bulletproof’)

          My personal apologies to anyone who had some trouble with unresponsive times the past day or so.

          1. Just_Chris says:

            Fantastic! In the nicest possible way, I think it is great that you guys are struggling under the weight of hits. Hopefully 2016 will be the mythical break out year we have been waiting for since 2011 with sales of ev’s reaching mainstream levels.

  3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Jay Cole wrote:

    “…the Tesla Model S was also delivered in near record numbers…”

    Why “near record”, Jay? I looked at your sales charts for the past couple of years; looks like your estimate of 3900 is a record. I’m guessing this is an editing error?

  4. mustang_sallad says:

    That is a crazy number from Tesla, great to see that the Model X production is thoroughly ramped up.

  5. PJ says:

    Can you do an article about all the upcoming new ev this year? So we can get a sense of the potential sales for the full year. That and all the refresh models.

  6. David Murray says:

    Can you imagine what this chart will look like once Model-3, Bolt, Outlander PHEV, and Prius Prime are all in full production? Each one of those will have the potential to add several thousand to the sales chart, easily pushing EV sales to the 2% or 3% mark.

    1. PJ says:

      Don’t forget the Chrysler Pacifica I think that could sell 30k a year.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I admit I do wonder what will happen to this website. Will it experience explosive growth along with EV sales? Will the staff, and the traffic, grow in size until this site looks like Reddit — or at least like GM-Volt.com?

      Or will InsideEVs choose to specialize, to focus on a more narrow segment of the entire EV market? Will “If it doesn’t have a plug, it doesn’t appear at InsideEVs!” give way to “If it’s not a pure battery-powered, highway-capable, made in America automobile, it doesn’t appear at InsideEVs!” …??

      Inquiring minds want to know! 😉

  7. mustang_sallad says:

    Mirai sales… I wonder if they’ll be able to hit their extremely low bar of 3000 per year by 2017. Meanwhile, the Model S just outsold it by almost two orders of magnitude…

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Future generations will talk about the Mirai the way we talk about the Edsel.

      But at least the Mirai will be made in fewer numbers, so there will be fewer left unsold on Toyota’s lots.

      1. Excoriator says:

        Not so sure. Given the tiny number of filling stations available I think it’s doing quite well.

        As the number of filling stations expand, so will the number of hydrogen cars sold, and it has the advantage or requiring nothing new in terms of the way it is charged or driven from conventional cars.

        Given adequate filling stations, its a more attractive technology to most than batteries plugs and cables.

  8. Excoriator says:

    The Mirai’s sales growth is constrained by the number of hydrogen filling stations. This will grow, and probably exponentially.

    The Model S is constrained only by the number of people prepared to wait at least an hour to charge it every few hundred miles. There are only a limited number of folk prepared to do that. It would drive me nuts! I can’t afford to waste that amount of time.

    1. mustang_sallad says:

      Why are Mirai’s sales going to grow if it offers no benefits compared to a gas powered car? EVs have drawbacks (slightly limited recharging infrastructure, half-hour recharging times) that are balanced out by benefits (much cheaper to run, convenience of charging at home). The Mirai has drawbacks (extremely limited fueling infrastructure, more expensive than gasoline, limited interior volume) and no consumer benefits compared to gas powered cars, other than zero emissions, which I guess some people are willing to compromise for.

      Not to mention PHEVs… The Prius Prime is the Mirai’s biggest threat.

      1. David Murray says:

        This is essentially what I’ve been saying for the longest time. What is the benefit to the consumer, beyond being “green?” EVs and PHEVs have clear benefits and the price continues to fall on both of them. Even if the Marai were priced the same as a regular gas car (probably never happen), I still see no benefit to the consumer, only downsides.

        In order for a fuel-cell car to ever sell in decent quantities, it would have to sell for the same price as a regular car, say around $30,000. The fuel would need to be roughly the same price as gasoline. And there would need to be a reasonable number of filling stations around. I honestly don’t see any of these things ever happening.

        A Hybrid, PHEV, or EV can actually sell for more than a gasoline car because it has clear benefits to the consumer.

        1. Excoriator says:

          I don’t think fuel prices are very significant. In the case of electric cars, the mileage in a single journey is limited, so they appeal only to people who wouldn’t use much fuel in a conventional car anyway.

          The advantage of fuel cell cars lies in the fact that it will meet any emissions regulations and performs as well as a conventional car. Unlike a battery powered car, it is always possible to undertake a long journey without having to wait for it to charge.

          The UK boasts an experimental hydrogen filling station that generates its own hydrogen by electrolysing tap water using power supplied by a wind turbine! Although the single turbine only produces enough hydrogen to supply about 10 cars a day, this seems to match the number of customers who want it at the moment.

          It real significance is that unlike electricity, hydrogen can be stockpiled very easily, which means excess power produced by our wind farms at times of low demand can be put to good use to supply fuel cell vehicles.

          The other advantage of hydrogen is that it it extremely light. At 700 bar its density is only 40 grams per litre so the vehicle has a huge weight advantage over batteries.

          In the UK, also, more than half the population live in houses with no drive or garage, parking their crs where they can on the street. Unless millions of charging points are provided, these folk will be unable to run a plug-in vehicle even if they wanted to. There will be little enthusiasm to disfigure our towns with these things anyway.

          1. Excoriator says:

            I should add that it is not so much looking for advantages, but eliminating the disadvantages of battery cars, mainly restricted range and slow recharging, but also the cost and weight penalties of large battery banks.

            I don’t believe many people want either battery or hydrogen cars and will have to be forced to use them by environmental legislation. That being the case, the hydrogen car will win out as it is more like vehicles people are used to, and there is no need to plan your journeys around the peculiarities of the battery.

  9. PJ says:

    March could be an all time high even possible it hit 14k

  10. ziv says:

    Ok, this is going to sound stupid, but I added up the totals from the Monthly Plug-In Sales Record and I have the Leaf still leading at 92,503 sold to the Volt at 92,411.
    So my number, which I have added up twice, is understating Jay’s Volt count by 326 and Jay’s Leaf count by 19.
    Am I on drugs? Or are there super secret sales figures that you have to have a secret hand shake to see? LOL!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey Ziv,

      It is December 2010 that you are missing from your count (which were…not surprisingly Volt-326, LEAF-19).

      It is on the scorecard, but because there was only 2 EVs on sale in the US (Volt/LEAF) and for one month, it is kind of hidden above the 2012 data.

      Here is the screenie of the data from our all-time US monthly scoresheet:

      1. Ziv says:

        Thanks, Jay! The numbers were right in front of me and I missed them. Your Plug-In Sales Scorecard is a great treasure trove of data!

        I am glad to see that the Volt has taken the sales lead back from the Leaf. I have always liked the EREV concept.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          No problemo Ziv,

          Appreciate the kind words, and also the fact you are taking the time to double check our math and report back if you think something is off…we try our best, but are far from perfect, (=

  11. Jean-François says:

    Complete sales numbers will be available on Monday?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Yupper. It is always a bit tricky when the start of a new month/reporting day falls on a Friday.

      Usually it takes the better part of 24 hours/2 business days to rustle up data from all the players, but some execs are out the door early on Fridays (and few work weekends), so you have to catch up on Monday.

      …thankfully though, ‘sales day’ doesn’t fall on a Friday very often

  12. Rick Bronson says:

    This is impressive with Tesla taking #1 & #3 spot. Let’s see whether Model-X catches up with Volt.

    Those who want Electrics just ignored the low gas prices and went for these vehicles. So more than 1/3 of the vehicle sales are done by just Tesla alone. Hope others can do something to boost their share.