March EV Sales 2nd Best Month Ever In US, Momentum Now Unstoppable

APR 4 2017 BY JAY COLE 97

Tesla Model S, New Zealand

The Tesla Model S retook the overall EV sales lead in March

Up against some particularly difficult sales comps a year ago, March 2017 was the one month that there might have been a hiccup in the surging US plug-vehicle market.

Not so much.

Not only did the plug-in sales post year-over-year gains for the 18th consecutive month (or 1.5 years if you will), but March did it in style, with 22 different models touching 2017 highs.

The ~18,107 plug-ins moved was the 2nd best month ever for sales, outpacing a strong 2016 result by more than 4,000 units and 31% (when ~13,857 were sold).

With less than 10 days worth of inventory, the Toyota Prius Prime still sold more than 1,600 copies in March. What is the ultimate sales ceiling for the plug-in Toyota?

Overall for the year, an estimated 40,729 plug-ins have now been sold in 2017, which is a 46.3% jump over the 27,841 moved through the first 3 months of 2016.

Putting another way, at the current pace of gains, the US market is heading for some 232,000 plug-in sales for 2017…and that is before adding in any future Model 3 numbers, projected by CEO Elon Musk to start limited production in July (and ending the year out at a ~5,000 per week pace), or 2nd generation LEAFs this Fall.

Not too shabby at all.

Getting to the individual results; as March was the end of a quarter, one can count on Tesla to focus its delivery efforts on the US.  And despite losing a week+ of production in February (affecting March deliveries) for Model 3 tooling, the company still managed to deliver and estimated 6,200 EVs for the month (~3,450 Model S, ~2,750 Model X).

The March surge for the Tesla Model S was enough to put it just ahead of the Chevrolet Volt in total sales for the year (by 537 units), but the Volt also outperformed expectations, selling 2,132 copies during the month.  We should note that not everything was rosy for GM, as the company cited issues getting Chevrolet Bolt EV inventory to dealers, which caused the 238 mile car to sell just under 1,000 copies for the second month in a row.

As it relates to the Bolt EV, but not for March, the inventory level of the car surged in the last days of the month, and only days into April reached a number close to 4,000 units (as possibly GM shifted attention from Ampera-E production for Europe back to the US).  The bottom line?  April says are going to be up…way up for the Bolt EV.

Chevy Bolt EV: Not-so-good results in March thanks to inventory issues. But with that situation resolved for April, we expect big, BIG things!

On the surprise side, the BMW i3, after floundering for what seems like an eternity, rebounded in March, selling 703 copies – up from 318 in February, and 111% better than last year (332 sales).  Hopefully this signals the imminent return of the plug-in BMW to former glory, with sales in the 4-digit range.  Also the BMW 330e finally got some inventory (only took a year) and notched 365 sales…clearly on the way to bigger and better results – finally.

But the biggest surprise of the month was definitely the Ford Focus Electric!  After 60 months in a row of selling 150 units (+/-99 copies), the new long ranger model finally arrived (115 miles – up from 76 via a 33.5 kWh battery), and with it – a sizable amount of customer orders that piled up over the past ~4 months.

Several Most models made new 2017 highs in March, a listing of which one can find under the model-by-model sales chart below.  (All-time, month-by-month, historical data for previous years can be found here)

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from March 2017

Its the end of a quarter…so Tesla heads back to the top of the list!

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla Motors* – 6,200
  2. General Motors – 3,115
  3. Ford – 2,071
  4. Toyota – 1,618
  5. BMW – 1,556
  6. Nissan – 1,478
  7. VW Group – 885

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In March*

  1. BEV – 10,377 – 57.3%
  2. PHEV – 7,730 -42.7%

(*) estimated

New Year Highs Set In March By Model (previous 2017 high in brackets)

The longer range Ford Focus Electric arriving in March…bringing with it a new, historically high, level of sales for the model

  • Tesla Model S* – 3,450 (1,750)
  • Tesla Model X* – 2,750 (800)
  • Chevrolet Volt – 2,132 (1,820)
  • Toyota Prius Prime – 1,618 (1,366)
  • Nissan LEAF – 1,478(1,037)
  • Ford Fusion Energi – 1,002 (837)
  • BMW i3 – 703 (382)
  • Ford C-Max Energi662 (639)
  • Audi A3 e-Tron – 414 (400)
  • Ford Focus Electric 407 (228)
  • BMW X5 XDrive40e – 397 (275)
  • BMW 330e365 (144)
  • VW e-Golf – 342 (332)
  • Fiat 500e*355 (345)
  • Hyundai Sonata PHV* – 295 (190)
  • Kia Soul EV – 171 (152)
  • Volvo XC 90 T8 – 103 (96)
  • Kia Optima PHV – 70 (61)
  • Mercedes S 550e – 60 (55)
  • BMW 740e – 42 (35)
  • Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid – 3 (2)
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV3 (1)

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

*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)

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

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97 Comments on "March EV Sales 2nd Best Month Ever In US, Momentum Now Unstoppable"

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There’s still quite a few 2016 Focus Electrics out there, many being heavily discounted, so I’m sure that’s part of the big March bump.

I assume there will shortly be a bumper crop of CPO FFEs as people who extended their leases to wait for 2017s turn in their 2013s and 2014s.

They are short range a bit of a clumsy conversion. But for the right price, they make GREAT little commuter cars and around the town errand cars.

Could Inside EV’s do a story into why the electric car quick chargers are popping up like daffodils in the City of Baltimore Maryland?

Seems like quite a few new ones at various libraries and parks in Baltimore. Interesting.

Perhaps in this lies the answer of how not to have ICEd public chargers. Make them parking meters but they charge for parking at a higher rate than regular parking meters then enforce with parking tickets. ICE owners won’t park there due to the parking rates and electric owners would be dis-incentivized to over stay the visit.

Good idea.

I agree with you both, this is a good idea! The best way to keep from having a charger ICE’d is to make it a less desirable spot, either by price or location.

This is probably the best thing I’ve read in weeks on InsideEVs. Please share your idea far and wide. Hope we can steal it across the globe!

An absolutely terrific idea, best one I’ve heard yet!

Good idea.

I found it easier to just get a Tesla.
Used ones still have free charging.
Public chargers are broken most of the time but Tesla’s SC’s have never been down for me.

Plus it will show up on your nav screen if the Tesla SC is down.

That’s pretty clever. You can go ahead and ICE me if you are willing to pay $5/minute. 🙂

The Ford FFE is definitely a value leader in Ontario. With that 33.5 KWH (not 3.5 KWH) battery it is 10K cheaper than the Chevy Bolt here. That is alot of cash – when combined with the 14K buy incentive in Ontario…

I am pretty sure that Model 3 will be 55K in Canadian loonies when it gets here.

The Bolt is close to 50K when tax is factored in.

Knowing that the BOLT ev is a much better value in Canada than the States, it surprised me last month when I showed up at GHEVA (Hamilton, Ontario EV car club) that I was the only BOLT ev in attendance.

Canadian sales of Bolt EV totaled 241 for this month. Not bad.

And that’s with very constrained inventory. Here in Victoria the dealer only got 12 for the whole year. Of course they were all immediately spoken for.

Hi Bill!

I’m still waiting on my Bolt EV that I ordered in December, so I can’t say I’m too surprised. I have yet to see one ‘in the wild’ here in Ontario.

The Focus Electric is also indeed a great value here (I also have one of those on order, Bolt will be the wife’s, Focus for me). Ford Canada was offering $1000 off when I ordered mine, plus I got a $750 Auto Show bonus for attending CIAS. Factor all that in with an MSRP of $31,998 CDN, plus a $14000 provincial incentive, and it will be cheaper than the I-MiEV it will be replacing!

Yeah, the only OTHER BOLT ev I’ve seen turns out I know the guy, who asked me back in 2011 if I liked my VOLT so that he got one. That’s the car he traded in for his new BOLT ev. Re: Ford, he says his other car is a Ford Energi PHEV.

Any chance you could add a column next to the annual total for each car that shows the % difference from the previous year? This would add interesting context on year to year sales per model.

Although good — I would have liked to seen numbers above 20k / month by now. Frankly disappointed in the Bolt and Prime numbers.

On a positive note — you may see a general uptick once the Model 3 releases and people find out it will be 1 1/2 years before they can get one if they had not reserved one — and get something else like a Bolt or Leaf 2 (or a 100 ish range cheapo)

Is the Bolt Supply constrained?

GM has announced it is prioritizing sales of Bolts in US complaince states (like CA and OR), and everyone else gets the leftovers.

They claim they’ll have this problem in hand by the fall. We’ll see.

So far, they’re getting creamed by the Prius Prime (which is selling across the US) in sales volume.

Disclosure: I’m not a GM fan, due to their (lack of) quality reputation, generally.

So uh…..what the heck happened with Pacifica Hybrid sales? Did Sergio go “oh crap, we’re losing too much money on these too!” and halt production?

Not bad, but only 14 on the list are 100% BEV’s.

To me that is all that matters.

Why do only pure BEV’s count? For me, a Prius Prime would change my estimated annual gasoline consumption for my daily driver from about 200 gallons to about 10 gallons. (I don’t drive much).

Why make the imperfect (or transitional) the enemy of the good?

Besides Model S and X, none of these cars would sell without incentives, just a few would be bought by EV fans. So not only am I curious to see the price points of next gen 200 miles EVs, but also what body styles they’ll come in, their price points and how the freeway charging will be taken care of.

Tesla Model S and X still come with tax incentives, no?

Still need huge growth in all of the different plug standards.

Charging is more of a bottleneck as far I am concerned. A huge restriction now more than ever.

Boris, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the minute the credit gets cut in half, the price of most of the top 10 BEVs/EREVs will drop by a nearly identical amount.
GM, Nissan and Ford are milking the system to get as much profit, as early as possible.

Agreed. For sure the pricing is set with the credits in mind. If they make them too cheap, it makes the ICE versions look like a bad deal, and since they’re production limited on many of the EVs, they would lose sales overall. More demand than supply for the EVs, but lowered demand for the ICE versions because they seem like a bad deal if the EV counterpart is similarly priced or cheaper.

>> I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the minute the credit gets cut in half, the price of most of the top 10 BEVs/EREVs will drop by a nearly identical amount. GM, Nissan and Ford are milking the system to get as much profit, as early as possible. That’s when Prius Prime will really begin to shine. With a starting MSRP of $27,100 that includes a nice collection of safety features, it stands a chance of holding its own. The tax-credit dependency is much less. For that matter, the tax-credit is only 60% compared to others anyway. Current sales are still in the ramp-up stage, with multiple markets being supplied all at once. For here in the United States, that means supply in the Midwest is basically nonexistent. There are many still waiting to finally just see one in person. I got mine on April 1st, after being willing to put a deposit down and waiting 6 months… long before anyone really knew how Prime truly worked. Now that they are finding out the to-the-floor EV acceleration and 84 mph top-speed EV really does deliver, interest will grow. The efficiency while in HV mode is remarkable too; seeing over… Read more »

How do you figure, John? When the credit runs out, most of the electric cars with the full credit will forgo using the credit to increase their profits. Toyota has never been able to do that to the same amount because the PiP has a small battery.

So Toyota probably isn’t making the same profit that GM is making on the Volt and Bolt.

When the credit goes away, GM has already baked in a decent amount of extra profit that Toyota will never see because they used the small packs.
Flip side of the coin, Toyota never really spent much time or money on engineering the PiP (they basically shoe-horned a small pack into an existing vehicle, oversimplification, but not by much) compared to what GM spent on the Volt and Bolt. So there is that.

Toyota has built a family of cars that are amazingly efficient, it is just too bad that they are so boring. Even my Volt makes a Prius like a pig. And my Volt is only peppy with decent handling, but it is not really all that quick. The Prius is just that much slower and has handling that is just that couch-like.

>>When the credit runs out, most of the electric cars with the full credit will forgo using the credit to increase their profits.


Sales growth is painfully small, far less than what’s needed for a vehicle to be self-sustaining. Asking consumers to accept the loss of that $7,500 subsidy for the purchase of a Volt will basically kill it.

GM allowing that to happen doesn’t make any sense. They’ll have no choice but to drop the price (sacrifice profit) for the sake of keeping sales going.

Toyota already has a price able to keep Prime viable. $27k is quite realistic on its own, no subsidy necessary.

The Volt is only now starting to sell fairly well, but I really don’t think it will ever sell as well as the Prius. The Volt is a much better car in every way except for ICE efficiency, but Toyota has a generation of fans and GM has spent a generation selling small cars that drove buyers away from Chevy. Then they built a solid, peppy car that really is fun to drive, the Volt, but no one knows about it. So GM decided to keep the price artificially high, around $33k for a base Volt, knowing that the buyers would only be paying $26k after credit and also knowing that Chevy would make a lot more on the Volt than would otherwise be the case. So they retire the debt they incurred designing the Volt and the Bolt, and when the credit starts to dry up next year they have a ton of room to drop the MSRP. Credit drops $3750? No worries, MSRP drops $3500! Most people that know cars, (and having approximately 17,000 pictures of your Prius posted on line DOES NOT mean you know cars, John ) think that GM will reduce the real world price… Read more »

>> Credit drops $3750? No worries, MSRP drops $3500!

You honestly think a small car will be able to grow sales significantly (enough to actually compete with guzzlers directly) and sustain a profitable volume with the loss of a $7,500 subsidy mid-cycle?


There is GM’s quality reputation, which is borne out by Consumer Reports’ December 2016 issue, stating that (I paraphrase here) the 2nd Gen Volt has terrible quality (despite the halo effect that PHEV’s have).

Over time, I would expect that to matter. A lot. (I’ve had great cars and terrible cars (including a GM) re quality. For a great quality reputation I’ll put up with a lot of minor issues). I’ll bet there are a lot of buyers out there who feel the same way.

>> Toyota has built a family of cars that are amazingly efficient, it is just too bad that they are so boring. Even my Volt makes a Prius like a pig. And my Volt is only peppy with decent handling, but it is not really all that quick. The Prius is just that much slower and has handling that is just that couch-like.

Have you actually driven either a gen-4 Prius or a Prime?

You do realize that one of the big irritations w the Gen I Volt is that it has 0-60 times of around 8.3 to 8.5 seconds, don’t you? And that the Gen 4 Prius plows along at 9.6 and the Prime positively dawdles along at 10 point Zero seconds! You may have days to get up to speed but most drivers want a bit more pep in the step.

I had the distinct pleasure of finding out that a 2016 Primus handles better than the 20l3. The newer Prius handles like a Lazy Boy recliner instead of a couch. John, you may love the Prius, and it is a very efficient car, but they are still dogs of the slowest, most boring, sort.

I don’t know that a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds is all that bad. Of course it depends on your personal driving style, but for myself I think anything less than 10 seconds is sufficiently “peppy” for everyday driving.

My first car, when I was 21, was a 1975 Honda Civic CVCC, and according to Mr. Google, it had a 0-60 time of 0-60 15.5 sec. I did have a hard time passing on two-lane highways with that car, on the hilly roads of eastern Kansas where stretches of highway where you can pass tend to have rather limited distances. Compared to that early Honda, the Volt 1.0 is a speed demon!

Mainstream consumers couldn’t care less.

Some people never learn.

Another way to look at it is that they are $7500 more expensive than they would have been if the incentive wasn’t there.

The Bolt is moving pretty well around here. There are now two (counting mine) just in the building I work in.

That’s pretty good for 3 months on the market.

I am concerned though with sales in general. 1K per month is dismal. If it only sells 12K a year it’ll be a nightmare.

I looked at the local dealer’s lot last weekend. They don’t have any out front. That either means they can’t keep them in stock or think putting them out front doesn’t attract any customers. I’m kind of afraid it’s the latter.

Bless GM’s little heart.

GM has been allowing the Bolt inventory to stay relatively low, with most of the inventory in California. The amount of Bolts didn’t start to go up until about 10 days ago. I looked at posts that had Bolt inventory numbers in them over the past couple months and they seemed to be about what I copied below.

16-Dec 800
January 900-1200
February 1300-1500
3/14/2017 1900
3/22/2017 2010
3/24/2017 2205
3/26/2017 2375
3/30/2017 2490
4/2/2017 2600
4/4/2017 2585

Also have to remember that GM receives 1 CARB ZEV credit just for shipping a Bolt successfully to a CA dealer. Probably one reason why they are getting “stockpiled” in CA.

I can’t imagine that would be worth it.

GM isn’t even close to out of credits. And that 1 they get just “disappears” when the car is sold anyway, there’s no advantage to putting it on the lot early and selling it later if you don’t need the credits now.

It could help them meet their 3% requirement though.

What happens if the car is delivered to a CA dealer and then transferred to another state and sold there?

And inventory just moved up to 2670 a day after it dropped to 2585. These numbers include a boatload (so to speak) of cars that aren’t on dealer lots yet, but the number is interesting because it gives a trendline for Bolt inventory. And it looks like GM is getting ready to expand the Bolt presence in the US and Canada.

Really digging the headline Jay! I tend to think you are right too. More and more people are set to discover the superiority of the EV solution!

Jean-François Morissette

Jay, what’s the story behind the CT6 PHEV?

So what is everyone’s predictions of when we hit 1 million in plugin sales in the US?

I’ll guess 4th of July, 2018 😀

What’s the plug-in electric vehicle percentage share in the US car market over all in March?

March sales totaled 1.56 million autos in the US. So roughly 1.16%.

So, not to add even more complication and hassle for Inside EVs, but having a “% US Marketshare” row at the bottom for each month would be interesting and a nice reference point!

Market share of plugin cars in Germany has been 1.25% in March, we won! Indeed, this number is more relevant for overall market development of plugins. My guess for 5+ percent plugin market share in Germany is June 2019.

Seems like Tesla sold ~650 vehicles in Germany in March so the market share is more like a collaboration 🙂

VW/Daimler/BMW sold more than 2600 EVs in the U.S. last month, so I’m not sure if the Tesla sales in Germany are significant.

So we crossed the 1% barrier? That’s good! Still very tiny but the ball is starting to roll.

And where I live…holy smokes…there are so many plug-ins now on the roads that the gasoline biz HAS to be taking a hit. I wish someone would investigate and do a story on it.

Nowhere even close to ?? Norway

It’s looking good. But I think it’ll still be done time before I can head to any car site and find tons of EV news…

I find it a useful exercise to stop by the regular motor press every now and again. Certainly it tends to remind me that although I’m now confident in the revolution, many still don’t seem to have noticed it coming.

I think the really promising thing about the numbers this month is that they are not reliant on 1 model having a stella month or a fire sale of a model that is soon to be replaced. April will see a dip in the S and X sales but the Bolt, Prime and perhaps Ford should pick up the slack. The only months where I can see us even being remotely close to last years numbers would be July and August. Even then I think we should be comfortably past them. Can we hold 40% growth across the whole year it’d be nice – especially if the rest of the world grows strongly.

I expect 40% to be the low end of monthly year over year gains.

As the Prime and Bolt gain better inventory and wider distribution they will both continue to add additional volume.

I also expect a strong rollout of the Leaf 2 this fall, and with any luck the Model 3 will have some significant volume by the end of the year too.

March being a quarter end got a big boost from Tesla, but April will not. Hope other automakers take the load.

While BMW sold 1,556 vehicles; Benz sold 174 vehicles and they are making big talk about advancing the electric vehicles. Big joke.

U.S. BMW i3 and 330e sales more than doubled in March compared to Jan/Feb. Even the X5 sales were up about 40%. With the 530e coming out soon, BMW has some pretty good potential, especially globally.

True that Warren!!!

Mercedes Benz is on vacation.


From Bill O’Reilly’s TV show. 😉

Even if you eliminate 100% of Model S and Model X sales from the month, the sales number is still just as big as last month. So things are moving up.

Tesla sells are quite disappointing compared to last year’s numbers. Especially Model S is a old obsolescent car:

2017 Jan Feb Mar Total
Model S: 900 1750 3450 6100
Model X: 750 800 2750 4300

2016 Jan Feb Mar Total
Model S: 850 1550 3990 6390
Model X: 270 270 1860 2400

With the 60/60Ds out of the picture, I don’t see Model S sales improving YoY.
Plus there is no 24 month lease option either now….not that leasing a Tesla was ever that attractive though…

Serial anti-Tesla troll Thomas said “Tesla sells are quite disappointing compared to last year’s numbers.”

Whut?, Alternative facts by a troll!

Tesla’s 2017 1st quarter sales just topped its all time quarter record which just happened to be the 2016 1st quarter.

Do you happen to work for the Trumpster administration Thomas because your whining lack of the facts shows that you could certainly be a Trumpster Administration candidate.

US sales of the Model S were down slightly compared to Q1 2016.
Model X sales were of course up since there were still production issues last year.

@ Get Real:
Haha I like my new name “Serial anti-Tesla troll Thomas”.

I can also compare Q4 2016 with Q1 2017 and it doesn’t look much better:

Q4 2016 total produces vehicles: 24’882 (see
Q1 2017 total sales: 25’418 (see

So what shall look good???? Improvment of 2.15% is not quite impressive. With this rate of growth share price is absolutely exorbitant.

No I’m not working for Trump Administration. I just study Balance Sheets, cash flow Statements and earnings Reports.

Thank you for that perfect illustration of why it only makes sense to compare annual sales; that is, an entire year’s worth of sales, rather than a single month or a single quarter. That doesn’t just apply to Tesla, either. Sales of most models of cars are highly seasonal, and often vary widely from month to month.

Sadly, I don’t think that was at all your intention. Whether or not you intended it, your post comes across as anti-Tesla FUD.

Tesla’s total annual sales:
2013: 22,300
2014: 31,655 (+41.95%)
2015: 50,580 (+59.8%)
2016: 76,230 (+50.7%)

Tesla’s annual growth rate is vastly faster than any larger auto maker. I could be mistaken, but I think that’s more than an order of magnitude better than any larger auto maker, if we correct for growth and shrinkage during economic upturns and downturns. That astonishing growth rate is perhaps the main reason its stock price sustains such a high level.

Serial anti tesla troll thomas

This growth rates are easy to get if you start from nowhere and have no competitors yet. But this will change soon.

Anyone aware of the dynamics of the US EV market, in no small part driven by the federal tax credit that is easiest to use at the end of the year, should be aware that posting any growth in 1st quarter over the preceding 4th quarter is good work, disregarding other factors.

Not that I’d argue Tesla is any kind of value stock – it’s not. Clearly it’s priced on its story and potential, not on its sales history thus far.

“quite” disappointing?? They saturated the market in 2015 being the market leader in the US and EU!! I do not expect much S sales growth at all, much less the kind of growth we were seeing before Tesla saturated the market. C’mon, man!

Love that photo of the Tesla Model S that you used.


Go EVs and PHEVs! Even $2/gallon gasoline can’t stop this train!

LOL at all the Tesla shorts that have been getting CRUSHED.

Imagine the supply constraints if gas hit $4-$5
this summer. Or ever.

Oh that’ll never happen…

Oh, it will definitely happen. It is inevitable. Just a question as to when.