March 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?


Another month will soon be on the books, which brings us to the end of the quarter. Soon, March EV sales will provide us a much-improved forecast for the year ahead.

The start of 2018 was a bit rocky, with January numbers below our estimates. Sure, the first month of the year is historically never stellar for the segment, but sales were lower than most expected. February came and we had to wait forever to get the final numbers, but, in the end, it was worth the wait. The month exceeded our forecast significantly.

Last Month’s Results – February 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

Tesla Model 3

March has now come and gone and we’re eager to get all the figures in so that we can paint a better picture of the year ahead. Though we have no official numbers yet, we can tell you what we do know, as well as a little bit about what we expect.

Nearly every vehicle on our chart showed growth from January to February, some of which was massive. This trend should continue throughout the year, with March securing solid proof.

Despite Tesla Model 3 production issues, recent information leads us to believe that March will see a reasonable improvement from February. Tesla will report sales this week, so we’ll have to wait and see what the automaker discloses. Then, we’ll sort out the numbers. As far as the Model S and X are concerned, we expect to see numbers pretty consistent with last year.

Nissan has finally got the ball rolling withU.S.-based 2018 LEAF production and inventory. Deliveries soared in February, but only due to several months of almost non-existent sales. The numbers should be up for March, but it’s really hard to predict exactly how much of an improvement we’ll see. Once the numbers are in, it should give us a solid idea of how the LEAF will fare throughout the remainder of 2018.

We can’t forget about Chevrolet’s plug-in siblings, the Volt and Boltneither of which had a strong January. The Volt’s downturn continued in February, but fortunately, Bolt sales were up month-over-month and year-over-year.

Other vehicles that deserve mention are the Toyota Prius Prime and Honda Clarity PHEV. The Prime closed out 2017 in the fourth spot overall on our sales chart and has maintained second place thus far this year. The Clarity PHEV secured an almost miraculous December, which was its first full month of sales. It succeeded again in February, edging it closer to the top competitors in the segment.

While 2017 plug-in sales fell just shy of the 200,000 mark, it was still an extremely impressive year as a whole. Hitting that mark for 2018 should happen well before the end of the year. However, there are several variables involved in determining where we might be by the end of this year. Will we see 300,000?

Check Out: Contributor Josh Bryant’s 2018 yearly sales predictions here

With January a bit on the scary side, and February bringing considerable promise, what story will March tell?

Questions entering March:

  • Now that 2018 Nissan LEAF inventory has grown, have sales numbers seen a notable surge?
  • After the Chevrolet Bolt’s weak showing in January and more promising February, how will it close out Q1?
  • The Chevrolet Volt continues to struggle as deliveries have dropped year-over-year for 11 months in a row. Will strong sales this March finally end this streak?
  • Will the Tesla Model 3 prove more sales growth and stay at the top of our scorecard for the third month in a row, despite potential production concerns?
  • How much will Tesla Model S and Model X sales be impacted by the continued rise in Model 3 deliveries?
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales tripled from its first U.S. sales month to January, only to flatline in February. Will sales for March improve?
  • Will the Toyota Prius Prime hold its spot near the top of the chart, exceeding GM’s plug-ins and Tesla’s S and X?
  • Honda Clarity PHEV deliveries were back on the rise in February after a drop the month before, which earned it a new home in our recaps. Will the growth continue?
  • The Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai IONIQ PHEV both proved a giant leap in their second month of U.S. sales. Can we expect an even greater boost for March?

Stay tuned over the course of the next few days for the answers to these questions and many more, as we report March 2018 EV sales in real-time, beginning on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, with the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Bolt/Volt sales at 6:30-7:30 AM PT (9:30-10:30 AM ET), and continuing with Ford and BMW’s plug-in data on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

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

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28 Comments on "March 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?"

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Dr. Miguelito Loveless

I think the failue of Chevy to add any new features to the 2018 Volt has hurt its sales, not that they have ever really tried to sell it. The Bolt is doing better because of good press, but again little real effort to advertise the model.

As to Tesla, I am guessing around 6K sold this month, a substantial percentage increase in production that will get ignored because everyone will be focused on the 2500/week number being missed.

^^ This.

There will be a ton of posters who will go far out of their way to remain blind to the Model 3 by far being the best selling EV in the US, having reached that place at a record pace no other EV has ever ramped up sales in the US.

Instead they will fixate on a target that Tesla will likely hit within weeks anyways.

To be fair, Nissan ramps the Leaf up globally and they sold more than 6k in February vs 2500 Model 3s.

Yes, but rapidgate and the fast-degradation problem of the 30kWh may seriously hurt Leaf sales.

I have a Leaf order in advanced stage but will cancel if I can.

Seeing the Tesla degradation numbers next to the 30 kWh Leaf’s has a sobering effect.

Yes, how dare people call out a CEO that has repeatedly misled the public, customers, and investors about sales goals, missing those targets almost every time.

Every single risk that eventually impacted those goals (thanks for correctly identifying them as “goals”) were listed as risks in Tesla’s SEC filings. And Elon was very upfront about being limited by the supply speed of the slowest component (AKA least lucky supplier, because some supplier will always have the dumb luck of being the slowest).

Are you admitting that you are incapable of reading the disclosed risks in SEC filings? This is how EVERY company discloses the many risks that threaten guidance targets.

Mig, I think that GM built the Volt, the Spark EV and the Bolt as hedges against the possibility of an electric car breakout by one of its competitors. And after 2015 it became increasingly obvious that the Leaf with its battery issues wasn’t the competition, that Tesla might become a real market changing force that GM would have to deal with. So they have an EREV platform in which they throttled demand by keeping the rear seats minuscule while ignoring demands for certain options and they have a BEV in the Bolt but they throttled demand by making it ugly and again not offering options that many people wanted. If the 3 does arrive in large numbers and cut into GM sales, they can relatively rapidly turn the Volt into an EREV Malibu’like car by stretching the cabin 2″ and they can turn the Bolt into a CUV’lite by changing the body to more closely resemble the Buick Encore. Then offer ACC, higher max charge rates and other options in much demand and voilà! GM has an electric car line up that people actually want. And they have both lines already tooled up and ready to increase production by… Read more »

You touch on something I’ve wondered about a lot in recent years: How much R&D is going on behind the scenes at various companies on EVs? If we hit the EV tipping point, I think we could see some “surprise” developments like a Honda Clarity EV with a much longer range or entirely new models that arrive so quickly it’s obvious they were waiting in the wings.

“I think that GM built the Volt, the Spark EV and the Bolt as hedges against the possibility of an electric car breakout by one of its competitors.” We actually know the answers on each. 1) Volt was built to leap-frog the Toyota Prius at a time when Toyota and GM were fighting for number 1 company in global sales, and Toyota owned the hybrid sector. 2) The Spark was very specifically built for CARB because CARB rules didn’t allow 100% of CARB credits to come from PHEV’s (Volt). GM had to have a pure electric (or a REX/BEVx) for CARB compliance, and sold the Spark primarily in CARB states. It was either that, or buy even more credits from Tesla than they were already buying. 3) Bolt was part response to Tesla’s planned Model 3, and part Spark replacement for CARB requirements. However, GM never had plans to produce the Bolt in numbers that would actually compete head-to-head in numbers with Tesla’s announced sales goals. So you have a combination product that very much replaced the Spark for CARB compliance because the Volt as a PHEV can’t satisfy the CARB mandate, and a car to compete against a competitor… Read more »

The Bolt and the Volt both had a good month. The Volt should be flat or only slightly down from last March

The Bolt should be up over 100% from last years numbers.

Both should hopefully break 2,000 this month.

Good points and I predict that the Model 3 will again have the highest sales.

Very likely that is the case.Only chance of beating it at this point is the Model S or X lol. Prius Prime will be in the mid 2000s this month. Model 3 broke 3000.

Breaking News:

GM will no longer report monthly U.S. auto sales

Apr. 3, 2018

General Motors said overnight that it will do away with monthly U.S. vehicle sales reports, an industry standard, and switch to quarterly reporting.

“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations, in a GM press release.

“Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing,” continued McNeil.

The move may clear the way for GM peers to drop monthly reporting as well, and deny U.S. market watchers a key data input for insight into broader economic and consumer trends.

That is less than optimal.

They should report every week.

That would be optimal.

They almost did for a while. Automakers used to report 10 day sales results.

What a strange country where the companies decides what and when to report things.

Strange at least when living in a country where everything has to be reported as soon as the month is over and everything is public.

The Honda dealership near me, in Pennsylvania, has had eight Clarities in stock for the past month. Hopefully dealers will push Honda to start using the federal credit to reduce lease prices.

I wouldn’t expect much from the Niro. You can barely find them at the dealers anymore. 🙁

Breaking news:

“Q1 deliveries totaled 29,980 vehicles, of which 11,730 were Model S, 10,070 were Model X, and 8,180 were Model 3.”

Tesla Model 3 deliveries in March 2018:

8,180 – 4,360 = 3,820

Hopefully sales are up for all brands. We love our 2016 LEAF 18K miles, 12 bars, and we drove 80 miles last weekend with 51 miles left when we got home. Outstanding car. We limit the charging to 4 hours each night to simulate 90% charge. 100% charge in a hot climate where we live kills all EVs regardless of make. According to the battery university maintaining a 100% charge in high ambient temps between 86F and 115F before TMS cuts in kills all batteries for fons, car, lawn appliances and hand tools. Do not leave your LION hand tools in a hot car on a sunny day especially if they are fully charged.

I will be glad when you look in every direction and all you see are EVs. Tesla, Chevy, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, etc. American made cars running on american energy and not terrorist sharia oil. Security and safety and never worry about raising gas prices again.

Of course the smaller EV battery cars fair the worst since they are constantly more deeply discharged than bigger battery cars. My son and I have to charge our 24kWh LEAFS every single day but my wife can go 2 or 3 days without charging her 2016 30kWh model. Her car is definitely going to last a lot longer in terms of calendar years than our 24kWh models even with the same daily commutes.