May 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
For the past two months, some unexpected players have come out of the blue to post record sales to help EVs post back-to-back gains; first the Fiat 500e in March, then the Chevrolet Spark EV in April.
However in May, the traditional big names are back to their normal leadership positions, with the Tesla Model S leading the way (with the new 70D edition helping out).
Historical top two performers for the US – the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt also post their best results of the year, as did the Ford family of plug-ins.
That being said, May’s estimated 11,540 cars sold. That result, while being a 2015 best by far, is still slightly shy (7%) from May 2014, when the Toyota Prius PHV sold an amazing 2,692 copies – which pushed overall EV sales north of 12,000 units.
Unfortunately ever since May of 2014, Toyota basically has only produced a token amount of plug-in Prii before announcing that current gen production will cease in June. The Prius PHV 2.0 is not expected to lunch until the Fall of 2016…so no sales help is coming to the EV segment from Toyota anytime soon.
With the market also waiting on the next generation of Chevrolet Volt to arrive in late August/early September, the industry now has 3 vehicles that are in a sort of sales limbo, as word the 2016 Nissan LEAF would feature a larger 30 kWh battery will surely apply short-term pressure to 2015 model sales starting in June.
Heading in May the stories of interest are (with answers as they come in):
- Nissan is still looking to hit the 2,000 sales plateau in 2015, something they did in 10 consecutive months in 2014. Can the company return to old highs? (2,000 level achieved)
- GM is still looking to crest the 4-digit mark with the now “out of production” first generation Chevrolet Volt. Can they do it May? (Easily)
- The BMW i3 sales took it in the face last month, selling only 406 copies after selling close to 1,000 units eight of the nice months prior. Was April’s sales just a blip? Or a sign of things to come? (May rebounded)
- After recent impressive results from the Fiat 500e and the Chevrolet Spark EV, is there another player waiting to surprise us this month? (perhaps the VW e-Golf?)
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 2015 YTD chart as well as the complete 2014 results.
Below: Individual sales reports on each plug-in brand for the US
Chevrolet Volt: Never underestimate the power of strong incentives to sales. (full May recap on the Volt can be found here)
For May, GM crested the 4-digit mark for the first time in 2015 – and by quite a large margin, as 1,619 Volts were moved.
Additionally, May 2015’s result was almost even with a year prior, no small feat with the next generation’s arrival clearly on the radar.
During May, the last first generation Chevrolet Volt (a white one)rolled off the line at GM’s production facility in Hamtramck, Michigan.
No sooner had that happened than deals as low as $159/month leases and $7,000 off MSRP started being offered as GM promoted the last of the 2015s.
2015 model year inventory crested the ~5,500 mark before falling to just under 5,000 units to start the month – a level we feel is accurate as some parts of the country will be waiting until early in the new year to see 2016 inventory hit their local dealer. (Check this story to see GM’s regional rollout plan for the next generation Volt)
Last year (2014) 18,805 cars were been sold – which was down 18.6% from 2013 when GM moved 20,702 Volts. This means that the Volt is the first electric vehicle to post two consecutive years of falling sales in America.
Nissan LEAF: Nissan finally got back on track in May, as the LEAF become only the 2nd car to pass the 2,000-unit sold mark in 2015 with 2,104 cars sold during the month. (full May recap on the LEAF can be found here)
Overall for the year, the LEAF is still off by just over 25% with 7,742 cars sold in 2015, versus 10,449 through May in 2014.
Previously in April, Nissan did not participated in the strong sales experienced by much of the US market, as Nissan managed just 1,553 LEAFs sold.
Somewhat slower sales in the first 5 months of the year has meant that LEAF inventory is currently overbuilt somewhat for the first time in…pretty much forever, as more than 5,000 cars are now available nationwide.
The good news moment of the month is that the 2016 Nissan LEAF will come with 30 kWh of power in the SV/SL trim levels, an improvement of 25% – meaning a theoretical range north of 100 miles.
The bad news is that the ‘good news’ means existing gen sales will be taking a bit of a hit – likely starting next month, and we don’t expect any 2016 inventory to hit dealers until October.
In March of 2015, the LEAF overtook the Chevrolet Volt for the all-time lead for plug-in sales in America. That tally at the end of this April stood at 77,960 to 76,136, although we expect GM to have something to say about those standings when the 2016 Volt arrives this fall.
In 2014, Nissan sold 30,200 LEAFs, which is a big 34% improvement over 2013, when 22,610 were sold. For some perspective on how high that 30,200 sales number is, the previous best was by the Chevrolet in 2013 with 23,094 Volts sold.
Cadillac ELR: The plug-in Caddy continues to find a solid level at which to sell down 2014 inventory with 116 more sold – good for 531 for the year.
Previously in April, 104 ELRs were moved, good for a 70% improvement from 2014, when 61 were sold.
During April we also got word from GM that “officially” the Cadillac ELR would continue on, with new production as a 2016 model this summer (there was no 2015 production).
However, GM released the new spec sheet on the car, which clearly demonstrated it would not be migrating to the next generation platform.
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.
BMW i3: After posting a terrible month for sale in April with just 406 copies sold (near an all-time low), the BMW i3 bounced back nicely in May with 818 sold.
What happening in April? Who knows; but hopefully it was just a random blip on the popular BMW’s radar.
Previously in March, BMW sold a 922 copies of the i3 – an impressive result considering the limited availability of cars in the US to buy at dealer lots.
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.
Given the wild swings of late in BMW i3 sales its hard to tell is the current inventory level of about ~1,700 cars is appropriate to demand, too much, or too shallow.
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 updates add 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. So far that has worked out pretty well, with no quarter being off by more than 300 units versus information Tesla has reported publically, and for the full year results last year we came within 100 units with our net estimate of 17,300.
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.
For May Tesla was hitting on all cylinders, taking orders and delivering lots of P85Ds, 85D and 70Ds (but mostly 85Ds), but really just to North Americans during the month.
Depending on your prospective, an undeniable trend has been in place of late, more and more demand (and ultimately deliveries) is coming from the US with the introduction of the new trim levels, while Europe and the rest of the world has seemingly has levelled off – perhaps not as enticed with the “D” (AWD) offerings and/or the additional range of the base 70 kWh model.
We estimate Tesla delivered upwards of 2,400 Model S sedans in May in North America, and we would be very much surprised to see more than ~800 or so delivered in the rest of the world during the month.
In our opinion, it looks as though Tesla’s Q2 guidance of 10,000 to 11,000 Model S sedans will ultimately be achieved, but strictly through the demand in North America – perhaps accounting for as much as 2/3rds of the quarter’s end result; a far cry from the originally expected splits (~33%) of a couple years ago.
If Tesla is to make full year estimates of 55,000 cars sold, this situation will have to righted almost immediately given the long delays between orders and actual deliveries overseas.
With approximately 34,000 cars (and Model X SUVs) needed to be sold in the second half, it is unreasonable to think the company can sell ~22,000 (3,700/month) EVs in North America alone to make up for international shortfalls, especially with first US Model X deliveries now shifted back into (late Q3) September.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: “Destroyed” is the only word appropriate to what the Spark EV did to its old sales record in April by selling 920 copies.
Could the brand make a repeat performance in May? With less than 400 cars in inventory to start the month, failure was guaranteed.
For May, a still very impressive 283 Spark EVs were sold, leaving less than 100 now available to be had; which means sales next month for the little all-electric Chevy will be very depressed. In fact we don’t expect new 2016 model year inventory until at least late September.
Sure to continue help sales going forward was the announcement of a MSRP price cut on the Spark EV to $25,995, and a new aggressive lease deal at $139 per month in all 3 states the car is available in (CA, MD, OR)
GM sold 1,144 in total for the 2014 against 539 in 2013.
Ford Fusion Energi: Both of Ford’s “Energi” products did well in May, but the Fusion Energi was tops at 985 cars sold – the best so far this year.
Previously in April, the Fusion Energi turned in another decent month, selling 711 cars.
Thankfully, the main issue that had been holding back Fusion Energi sales in the Spring (no not demand) – national inventories, has improved considerably.
Heading into June the company looks to be closing into 4,000 units, a massive amount relative to sales and the new 2016 edition not that far off – we look for the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi to have a significance resurgence in sales this Spring.
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.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: After 8 months of anemic sales performances due to low inventory Toyota is sending a few extra copies to US dealers before the current generation of Prius PHV ends in June.
This translated into 727 Prius PHV sales in May, a year high, and the best result for the model since August of 2014.
Previously in April just 428 were sold – off 75% from a year ago’s 1,741 moved.
Again, we do still have to note – 2015 results are not a reflection on the demand for the car as…well, there isn’t that many to be had.
National inventories are still at a pretty unacceptable level for anyone honestly trying to sell this car and heading into a production halt – heading into June, about 800 are available to be purchased.
Although a next generation Prius PHV is confirmed, delays in the ‘regular’ Prius have pushed the plug-in version’s introduction as far off as the second half of 2016 as a 2017 model car.
This means a ~14 month gap (with zero production) will open up shortly and there will be no cars to sell over that period. We do expect inventories to see a slight bump before the end of June as the build-out might mean some additional depth for America before the long hiatus.
Ford C-Max Energi: The plug-in C-Max tied its best result of the year by selling 715 copies in May – the same level as two months ago.
Previously, in April we thought Ford pulled off the miracle of the year by selling 1,237 C-Max Energis. Unfortunately, the company had to send out a press blast saying that it had messed up on its reports; only 553 were actually sold.
Perhaps some wishful thinking on Ford’s part.
For 2014 overall, 8,433 plug-in C-Maxs were sold, good for being the 6th best selling plug-in for America.
In 2013, the high water mark for the C-Max Energi was set in October as 1,092 plug-ins sold. It would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED: The 2015s have finally arrived in some volume for the US, and with them hopefully the start of being able to match demand with sales.
For May 278 B-Class EDs were sold – new high the model.
Previously in April, 158 B-Class EDs were sold. Slightly better than the 145 moved a month ago.
Can the electric B-Class compete with natural rival BMW (with the i3)? It still seems highly unlikely, at least for now…but a lot more probable than just a couple months ago.
Beginning in April, the first 2015 model year B-Class EDs arrived, which was good news as the older 2014 model was both a limited production offering, and the new 2015s now all come standard with the previously optional “range package”. This means that the 87 mile EPA rating, is actually now about 17 miles higher (despite no official update yet on the 2015 edition from the government agency).
BMW i8: Consistency is the word for BMW i8 sales, with another 117 moved in May – or perhaps the word should be “allocation-restrained”?
Previously in April, 138 copies sold, while in March 143 were moved.. In the first two months of the year BMW sold 85 (Jan) and 113 (Feb) copies.
All great results so far in 2015, as it only takes about 20 days for a car landed in the US to find a home.
The high mark for the i8 was set at 204 plug-in sports cars sold in October of 2014.
555 i8s were sold in total in 2014…out of the approximate 555 that were shipped from BMW’s Leipzig assembly plant.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The dealer lot battle between the plug-in Panamera and Cayenne continued in May, with the Panamera again ending up on the short end of the stick with just 21 sold.
Looking at the yearly trend, and the Cayenne S e-Hybrid is clearly taking more and more away from its sibling.
For April 30 were sold, while previous months were 44, 40 and 61.
The high mark for sales on the Panamera was set in the first month of the year, with an amazing 141 sold. The advent of the Cayenne plug-in means that this level will never be seen again.
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.
Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid: Ever strengthening, the plug-in Cayenne set a new personal best for sales in May with 105 sold.
Previously in April, and despite some very thin inventories (not unlike May), the plug-in Cayenne sold 88 copies.
As more inventory of the Cayenne plug-in arrives, we expect more sales to be realized by Porsche.
While the Cayenne S e-Hybrid and cousin Panamera S e-Hybrid are still selling relatively close to the same level, don’t be fooled, the Cayenne plug-in’s demand is much, much higher.
How high? We can’t say. But what we can tell you is that since its arrival, inventory has been very tight, although it did improve by about 50% in May, up to about 80 units, about a half that of the Panamera S E-Hybrid stock.
When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we
have had 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: In the past, InsideEVs had used data from a 3rd party data collection site, however upon inspection of those numbers, they were found to be materially short from rebates claimed on the car. Historical sales have since been updated to more accurately reflect the 500es true sales, and we will continue to report an estimated number based on more accurate data points.
Coming off an incredibly impressive 1,310 estimated sales of the 500e in March, Fiat continued their very strong run of late by notching another ~420 units sold in April (estimated by state level and rebate data).
As promised, the Fiat 500e sales footprint in the US ventured outside California last year, as the EV is now on sale in Oregon.
As for the car itself, the 500e’s 24 kWh lithium battery has been rated by the EPA to produce 87 miles of all electric range, and MPGe efficiency in the city is pegged at 122, and 108 on the highway, for a combined 116 MPGe figure.
Volkswagen e-Golf: The e-Golf continues to strengthen in the US, as more traditional Golf buyers are choosing a plug. For May, 410 e-Golfs were sold – a new high.
Previously in April, 309 moved off dealer lots.
Looking at Europe, and the amount of EVs VW sells from such a limited inventory in the US, the company has served notice that they won’t be relegated to the small volume compliance category of EV sales.
How high could sales go? Still fairly hard to say, but as inventories spread out and VW eventually sends the EV across the US, the 500+ per month level ‘in season’ doesn’t seem hard to fathom today – at least when (and if) inventory levels get high enough to support that many sales.
Heading into June, inventories increased on average by about 200 e-Golfs, up to ~800 copies available to be purchased in America – so we will still have to wait a bit longer to see the natural demand for the plug-in VW.
Originally for the US, the Volkswagen e-Golf only came in the premium SEL trim, which brings with it a price point of $35,445 (details here), but now the ironically named “limited” edition is also available (but with a few less features) for $33,450 (details here)
The e-Golf has been rated at 83 miles by the EPA and carries a 24.2 kWh LEAF-like battery. Previously, InsideEVs learned details on a launch leasing program that sees the e-Golf available from $299/month on a 36 month term with $2,000 down.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: It’s a new 2015 sales record for the i-MiEV!!!
Ok, perhaps we shouldn’t get too excited as a new sales record was achieved with just 18 units sold; but it is something…right?
2016s are here! 2016s are here!
Unfortunately not that many. A quick check around the US by ourselves at month’s end only returned about 4 dozen copies.
Previously, 16 i-MiEVs were sold in April. For the year, Mitsubishi has now sold 49 of the small 4 seat EV.
Long story short, sales are terrible, as Mitsu continues to learn the lesson of “If you don’t ship any inventory, its hard to sell cars.”
Despite no 2015 model year cars ever being shipped to the US, Mitsubishi has decided to restock 2016 models of the car starting this month (March 2015) – yes, you heard that right – 2016s…in March of 2015. We should note that after talking to Mitsu directly about the 2016 i-MiEV (which gets some option package tweeks), the company says they don’t plan on marketing the car any differently than the outgoing 2014 edition. So look for some continued low volume numbers.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive: Breaking recent trends, the smart ED didn’t participate in the sales resurgence for EVs in the United States this month.
After selling 123 copies in April, just 102 were moved in May, the models’ 2nd worst showing over the past 16 months.
The all-time record for smart ED sales was set this past December, as the all-electric smart came out of nowhere to destroy expectations as 351 were sold!
The smart EV is now technically available nationally, although there isn’t inventory yet spread out across the country to make physical sales everywhere.
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:
Hit the snooze on the alarm, as Ford once again sold “100 and something” Focus Electrics in May with 165 more sales.
In April, 124 were sold. That makes 25 of the past 28 months in the zone.
Previously, in March 140 Focus Electrics were moved and 145 in February…which followed a disastrous January and December, when just 85 and 53 (ouch) were sold (respectively), despite a $6,000 MSRP price cut (down to $29,995) just 4 months ago, and big discounts at the dealer level.
We hate to say it, but the current generation of the plug-in Focus EV as it stands, is pretty much dead when it comes to consumer acceptance.
Kia SOUL EV: Despite having no issues accepting the $7,500 federal credit (designed to encourage hitting EV sales targets in the US) against sales of the Soul EV, Kia has decided it’s no one’s business what those sales are (many media outfits, including ourselves have been rebuffed) – a testament to Kia’s true dedication to plug-in vehicles.
But none of that matters because there is more than one way to split out plus-ins sales from petrol ones.
Sales improved again slightly in May as 108 were sold.
This three-digit result is actually Kia’s best result of the year, but we have to temper our excitement for the achievement as quite frankly, it should be doing much, much better.
Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US? I mean you did run Adam Levine-fronted commercials during the Super Bowl on the car
The high water mark still stands at the 140 EVs that were moved in November…which means that, at least for now, the low 100s seems to be the acceptance level for the all electric Kia.
Honda Accord Plug-In: Ok, we demand to know the names of the 5 people who bought the Accord PHV in April; they have to be employees? Right?
And are they counting the same people each month? As 5 were also sold in May…after selling 5 in March.
Basically, there is absolutely no demand for the extended range Accord.
By the way, did you know Honda had a plug-in hybrid to sell? Few seem to. In fact, it has been on sale now for 26 months – debuting in January of 2013.
Well they do sell them….and for just $17,675 dollars more than the base Accord sedan you too can enjoy up to 13 miles of electric driving…provided you don’t accelerate too hard, or drive to fast. So, to say Accord PHEV sales are flat in the US would be an understatement.
Pricing update: Good news, Honda is bucking the trend of falling plug-in vehicle prices, and the 2014 Honda Accord PHV inow retails for $39,780 – up $1,000
(Fun Fact: Although we no longer specifically track the e Honda Fit EV now that it is out of production, Honda managed to “un-sell” a copy in May, and noted sales of “-1” for the month)
Porsche 918 (OTHER): Ok, we hear you! People always ask us, “why don’t you report on the 918 Spyder?”
Honestly, it didn’t fit our traditional mantra of reporting only “mass produced EVs for America“…especially as we already know the total number of sales to come for America.
To that end, 918 sales will fall under the ‘other’ category on the scorecard.
Only 918 of the super exotic plug-in will be build over several years, and they are already all sold out, with exactly 297 destined to come to the US.
In May, 20 more of Porsche’s supercar were built and delivered in America after 34 were sold a month ago. The high for 2015 was set in January, when 34 more of those 297 US cars were delivered, after 39 918s arrived in December.
Check out Top Gear’s video review of the car that can go from 0 to 62 mph in 2.3 seconds…and plug-in, here.
BELOW: Chart of 2015 results so far, as well as 2014 year end results: