May 2016 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

JUN 1 2016 BY JAY COLE 49

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

May sales in the US improve over the prior month

Sales of plug-in cars have been on the uptick for quite some time now in the US, but Spring has been exceptionally strong for EVs.

2017 BMW i3 Gets New 94 Ah Cells, Good For 33 kWh Of Energy And ~114 Miles Of Range

2017 BMW i3 Gets New 94 Ah Cells, Good For 33 kWh Of Energy And ~114 Miles Of Range

March saw a new all-time record set with ~13,845 sales (a 33% gain over the year prior), while April notched 10,557 sales (a 16% gain).

For May, an estimated 11,423 plug-in sales were made, a 8% gain over April, and up 7.2% against May of 2015 (as 2016 had 24 selling days vs 26 in 2015).

What makes this achievement special, is that it comes despite a lot of downward pressure on the segment from the “soon-to-arrive-this-year” camp of far superior plug-in products:  Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai IONIQ, longer range BMW i3 (~114 miles), longer range Volkswagen e-Golf (~124 miles), Toyota Prius Prime, etc.

Sidenote:  Toyota sold 40 copies of the FCV Mirai In May, bringing the YTD total to 178

Also of interest this month:

New look, more miles for the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi

New look, more miles for the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi

*- the race between the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF for top selling plug-in in the US has seen the Chevy start to pull away (96,621 vs 94,288) as the Nissan falters ahead of the second generation launch…can Nissan stop the LEAF’s freefall in the US?

*- the BMW i3 surprised us by returning to stronger sales levels in April after 3 months of, well…disastrous results.  Now with a longer range i3 announced (and arriving this Fall), did BMW just shoot i3 sales this summer in the foot?

*- strong incentive packages on the “old” Fusion Energi (~$4,000) made the PHEV a compelling offering in April, can the refreshed, more efficient 2017 Fusion Energi carry that momentum into May?   You bet!

*- Audi A3 e-tron sales continue to be strong, setting a new year high in May (361 units)

Editor’s Note: This list is updated in real-time start the morning of Wednesday, June 1st and updated as we accumulate all the date from various OEMs.  If you are reading this note, that means the data is still coming in.  We expect to have all the data complete (finishing with Ford and Porsche’s electrified sales) the afternoon of Thursday, June 2nd.  The majority of the numbers are available by end of day Wednesday

Last update: Friday, June 3rd, @1:32 PM

Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.  (Previous year’s monthly results can be found on our fixed Scorecard page here)

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

Individual Plug-In Model Sales Run-Down:

Nest Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Next Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt: 

For May, 1,901 Volts were sold, which although not a record…was still pretty close to one (1,983 were sold last month in April)

This result also allowed the Chevy to be the top selling plug-in vehicle in the United States for the 2nd consecutive month, and 3rd time this year.

Still, the result is not exceptional, as it represents only a 17.5% increase over a year ago – at a time when only the 1st generation model was available (and when the public was eagerly anticipated the 2nd gen’s release in the Fall of 2015)

Part of the sales problem can be pointed at the inventory situation.  Ever since the car’s release, dealer stock has been fairly low, and not well spread out over the country.  Fortunately, by the end of June this situation appears to be correcting itself, as overall inventory crested the ~4,000 mark at month’s – getting ever-closer to levels seen back when the Volt was the best selling plug-in for America in 2012 and 2013.

With deeper stock available in more places, we anticipate Summer sales of the Volt to increase.

Heading into June, the Volt had put a nice lead over the LEAF for the all-time US sales title (94,720 for the Volt to 93,309 LEAFs sold)

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:  


It really is the only word to describe LEAF sales over the past two months.

For May, Nissan sold 979 copies, off more than 50% from a year ago.   Previously in April, 787 were sold, making it the first time since early 2013 that back-to-back months failed to reach the 4 digit level.

Clearly, the signal being sent from the US electric vehicle buying population is that they will wait for the introduction of the next generation model this upcoming show season.  We can only hope for Nissan’s sake they can get the new LEAF out in early 2017 to avoid extended sales losses.

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

It was thought as we headed deeper into Spring, a growing inventory of new 2016 30 kWh/107 mile LEAFs would help revive Nissan EV sales, that movement hit a ‘full stop’ in April as inventories, if anything, shrank…perhaps as a result of the lack of interest in the 107 mile version of the LEAF (which has a starting MSRP more than $5,000 higher than the base 24 kWh/84 mile version still available).

Now looking back on May, we can see it was intentional, as Nissan USA has basically thrown in the towel on selling the LEAF in volume ahead of the next generation LEAF’s debut, 2016 inventory of 100+ mile EVs has now dropped to just under ~2,000 units.

Nissan continues to offer better dealer incentives to move sales, but without depth to sell, and an incongruent product to demand (200 milers or bust), it doesn’t matter so much.

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: 

With less and less ELRs in stock to sell, GM sells ‘less and less’ of them.  For May 45 extended range Caddys were sold, off 61% from the 116 moved a year ago.

Previously in  April GM sold 95 ELRs, which was roughly on par with the year prior’s result of 104 sold.

For the year 402 have now been moved, off 29% from 2015’s 538 ELRs sold.

As for those dwindling inventory supplies, they now won’t last long as GM discontinued ELR production at its Hamtramck, Michigan facility in February.   Between dealers and GM’s pen we count maybe ~250 copies left, before the car is gone forever.  The ELR will shortly be replaced with the much larger CT6 plug-in sedan (details)

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

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: 

For May, BMW sold an ‘ok’ 696 i3s all things considered.

In comparison to the first 3 months of the year, when just 814 were sold in all three month combined, it was pretty great.

Again historical numbers from 2015, or even the 814 sold last month in April, it was a touch underwhelming.


As for th0s previous 3 months of the year, BMW sold 182 (Jan), 248 (Feb) and 332 copied (Mar).

Likely taking the wind out of the i3s sales this month was BMW officially stated that the 2017 i3 would see a significant range bump (up to 114 miles of all-electric range) thanks to a battery upgrade from 22 kWh to 33 kWh (details).

A newly upgraded i3 is great news, but an interesting development is happening with inventory, as BMW did build a pile of 22 kWh i3s for inventory (and will continue to build out the base model until 60 Ah battery supply has been exhausted), however that level is only at about ~1,500 for the US entering June.

If BMW has not properly allowed for “older model” stock until the 94 Ah cells (33 kWh) arrive in September/October, then we could see a return of the disastrous from earlier in 2016.

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.





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.

As we projected last month, a newly refreshed Model S not only stalled out April deliveries but also May’s before things get really, really interesting in June.

For the most part, Tesla delivered virtually nothing for the S in the first half of May in the US (the Model X seemed to be the higher priority during the month).  Heck, NA production of the refreshed Model S did even happen until week two, a few deliveries happened in week 3, but week 4 was the start of the “big push” to end out the year.  We figured 80% of the month’s deliveries happened in the last ~7 days.

Given the odd circumstances surrounding Model S production in Fremont, CA this month, and the very late…but very heavy…delivery (and production) volume happening at month’s end, May was not the easiest of months to peg down.

For May we estimate 1,200 Model S sedans were delivered.

And while Tesla shut down orders for June delivery on the Model X weeks ago to open the floor, it is running full steam ahead with its original offering.  The company is now concentrating mostly it would seem on US production of the Model S in June (at least until week 3 when numbers will roll over into July).

As mentioned in April’s recap, Tesla has a monster backlog of Model S orders it is now rushing through production, if the delivery volume of late May continues into June, we may have a new single month EV sales record set.







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 last 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 when volume deliveries started.

After an April that saw everything for a “scheduled maintenance” plant closure, a Model X rear seat recall in week 2, then a  improved pre-delivery second layer of quality control in week 3, May was mostly uneventful.

Tesla seemed to consistently (and methodically) run production and deliveries of the all-electric SUV throughout the month, and for the first time we can say with great confidence the Model X outsold the Model S.

We estimate that 1,600 were delivered during May.

Looking ahead, it appears June Model X deliveries will only be a fraction of Model S deliveries however, as the company knows how to “bang out” (and actually deliver) the Model S in just a few days (no extended QC or waiting on seat recalls/different configurations/trim levels there).

Not only does Tesla have a lot of US customers waiting on the refreshed all-electric sedan…but the company once again has to concern themselves with pesky ‘end of quarter’ estimates again.  New customers were told early in May to not expect their SUVs until July.

Still, the moment that new production of the Model S won’t be able to be delivered in Q2, it appears Tesla will get down to work on building out the first of the 75 kWh versions of the Model X (~week 4 of June).



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.

Since then, the XC90 plug-in has found a consitent selling range in the ‘100s’

For May, 110 were sold, after moving 150 copies in April.

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 there is for the first extended range PHEV in America once it really gets its footing, as Volvo already under-estimate demand for the XC90 plug-in by a factor of 5 in 2015 for Europe.




2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet SPARK EV: 

The advent of a new “geared-to-income” EV rebate program in California this Spring has lead to the monthly lease cost of the Chevy Spark EV to fall to….zero.

Yes, that is right, if you make under 3x the federal poverty limit (35k, or 73k for a family income for 4)  – go find a dealer willing to knock off about $1,000 bucks and you get a free EV.

As one might expect, Spark EV sales shot up of late.  For May, a ‘near record’ 394 sales were might, a slight miss from April’s 419 units sold.

In other news, if Chevy can stock them, the homeless problem is now solved in California.  Or maybe more reasonably, Chevy has just forced the CVRP to change its recently announced rebate program. However, that won’t happen…just as GM has found a winning combination to sell virtually endless EVs in the US, the production of the 2016 Chevy Spark EV in South Korea ends in August – giving way to the upcoming, made-in-the-USA, 200+ mile Bolt EV.

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), physically arrived in April in a token amount, and it might take a few months for inventory to arrive as the model has proven exceptionally (and unexpectedly) popular in Europe.

In May, 67 plug-in 3-series cars were sold by BMW, after moving 25 in April.  Ultimately, when there is inventory (only about ~200 units heading in June), we expect the 330e to easily be able to see 500+ units per month.

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 5 months on the market, it has not not disappointed.

In May, the plug-in Audi set a new personal best, selling 361 copies, and 1,589 moved overall in 2016.  Previously in April, 321 A3 e-trons were moved,

Audi is still certainly not in the “big boys” category for EV sales, but also is definitely not in the “also rans” either.

In May, with a few months of strong sales under its belt, Audi has apparently felt more confident with the prospect for future A3 e-tron sales, as it now counts as many A3 e-trons in stock as Nissan has 107 mile LEAFs, some ~1,600 worth.  Look for a big summer and 2nd half of 2016 for the plug-in Audi.

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:  

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


Ever since, it has been crushing all others (not named Tesla or Chevy Volt).

In May, a new year high for sales was set with 1,453 Fusion sold…this after logging an impressive 1,331 sales in April

Looking at the inventory and it is easy to see why (and how) so many Fusion plug-ins have sold over the first few months of the year;  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.

The reason?  A new refreshed Fusion Energi entered production mid-April and the company needed to built up a cushion while awaiting new 2017s to arrive.  In May, that number of “older” Fusion Energis in stock fell below 3,000, but by month’s close to a 1,000 copies of the new 2017 edition did arrive.

During May we also got a hold of a refreshed 2017 Fusion Energi EPA window sticker to see what improvements had been made.  Past the exterior and interior cosmetic changes, the all-electric range increased to 21 miles (from 19) and the extended range MPG increased to 42 (from 39)

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.




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 May, just 4 copies were sold, which is identical to April’s result.  Earlier results this year totaled 7 (in March), 6 sales (in February), and 10 in January.  Overall 31 have moved in 2016, off just a scant 98.7% from the 2,425 sold in the first 5 months of 2015.

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.

In June we tracked down Toyota’s plant information and found out the Prius Prime enters retail production this September…so our new hunch is that it would be available in any depth in America until closer to Christmas.

Some industry insiders think upwards of 50,000 could be sold during its first full year on the market in 2017…provided 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 with 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.

For May 3 were sold…which was 2 better than last month when none were moved.  (Update: we previously had incorrectly said 25 units were sold…apologies on that mix-up)

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:  

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

Since then sales have been steady, we estimate some ~235 were sold in May, after moving a similar 250 in April.

(As always, Hyundai is not keen to split out a specific number themselves, so we have to go by what rebate and dealer information there is to go on).

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 May just under ~500 showroom copies on average were available in limited states – although the car is available by customer order in all 50 states, which could push sales abnormally higher than would be expected with present inventory levels.

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:

For May, VW sold 269 copies of the e-Golf, which was not too bad considering a recently announced range upgrade for the upcoming 2017 edition pretty much assured demand would be kept in check.

Previously in April, Volkswagen sold 325 of its all-electric Golf, which was a marked improvement from the poor result in March (just 86 sold).


As mentioned, some sales help is on the way, as Volkswagen will have a first mover advantage of some sort upgrading the range on today’s e-Golf; the company said in May that a new longer range e-Golf will be available in the US this Fall.  The 2017 plug-in VW (details) will now feature a 35.8 kWh battery, increasing range to ~124 miles.

124 miles is a fairly significant number compared to today’s city EVs, but it still short of the like of the Chevrolet Bolt EV (200+ miles) which arrives in December, the new LEAF in early 2017, and the Tesla Model 3 (215+ miles) in late Summer of next year.

We expect with the release of this 2017 edition, inventories will deepen considerably in the US…along with sales.

The current 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.

The stronger variant is of course the Fusion Energi (as people actually want to buy its petrol counterpart), but the C-Max Energi continues to perform well.

In May, 538 were sold…after selling 607 in April, both results not too far off the year high set in March (610 units).

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 more than a third of the net cars for the model.

It still would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi, or other more capable PHEV.  Still, that won’t be happening in 2017 as Ford has confirmed the 2017 C-Max Energi will head into production this November.

Given the Fusion Energi’s recent all-electric and MPG upgrades (see details above under the Fusion Energi recap), we expect the C-Max Energi to get a similar boost at that time.

We should also 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 than that of the Fusion.

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.




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 the 49 sold in May seems like a reasonable amount vs demand for city EVs these days.

Previously in April 56 were sold, after 66 moved in March.

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:  

When it comes to sales, the BMW i8 had a pretty rough start to the year…selling just 32 copies.

However, the company has found more buyers for their performance, extended range sports car each and every month in 2016.

For May, that number hit 146, a 25% increase over the year prior.

Heading into June, the inventory situation continues to be strong…as it seems every BMW dealer really enjoys having a a couple i8s in stock (one for the showroom window, and one to drive around him/herself).  About ~600 are currently available for sale.

The all-time high sales mark for the BMW i8 came in December, when an unbelievable 656 were sold…perhaps it was the expensive ‘go to’ gift of the Holiday Season for that special someone?  The old record was just 217 units, so to say this Christmas 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.





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 May, 26 were sold – sad faces all around for the plug-n Porsche.

Previously in April, the Panamera S e-Hybrid rebounded sold just 25 copies…so 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).

There has even been enough demand of late for Porsche to introduce a premium “platinum edition” of the plug-in Cayenne.

In January 145 were sold (after moving 137 in December), but somehow Porsche managed to sell 172 in February, then set a record 244 in March.

For May, sales did pull back somewhat, but Porsche still moved a fairly impressive 191 copies.

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 has only increased through the past few month, averaging close to ~400 units in May




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).

So far in 2016, the Fiat 500e has remained a consistent performer, for May we estimate 405 more 500es were sold.

The all-time high-water mark was an around ~1,310 sales of the 500e in March of 2015.





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), BMW sold a very strong 500 copies of the plug-in X5 in May.

The all-time record for the SUV was set just last month when 655 were moved in April,

This month’s result and last keeps the X5 plug-in solidly inside the “top 10” best sellers for the US, passing the Fiat 500e. Who would have guessed?

Looking at the potential for future sales, more than ~1,100 copies are now on hand heading into June – 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, passing its sister-car the i3? 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


The slight rebound in smart ED sales continued in May, perhaps due to the fact the tiny EV from Daimler is also available in a ‘cabrio’ trim level…for the month 75 were sold.

With the start of summer upon us in a few weeks, our expectation for the little plug-in smart is a decent sales rebound…perhaps not its to former glory, but definitely returning to the 150-200 sales per month level.

With the start of summer upon us in a few weeks, our expectation for the little plug-in smart is a decent sales rebound…perhaps not its to former glory, but definitely returning to the 150-200 sales per month level.

The all-time record for sales in one month was set in December of 2014 when 351 were sold.  The smart Ed ended 2015 with 1,387 sold – good for the 13th on the top selling plug-ins list for America.

The smart ED is also 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:   

Do we really have to keep reporting on individual months for the Focus Electric?  Every month is practically a carbon copy of the last…serious.


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 May marked the EV’s 50th 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.

For May another 54 were sold in the boringest sales story ever to be told.  Yippie!

The model has sold between 53 and 198 sales per month in 47 of the past 48 months. With just one of those months passing the 200 level ever (August 2014 -264)

Ford has announced some time ago that a longer range, 100 mile 2017 Focus Electric would arrive later in 2016…which is good, but we still suspect won’t do much to help push sales any higher, as the entire industry BEV segment seems to be going through a product upgrade cycle.

Still, we were curious as to when these new Focus EVs actually might show up, and it appears that retail production for the US kicks off the second week of November…meaning next-to-nothing of the new product will actually be sold in 2016, and we’ll have to wait until 2017 to see if the longer range Ford EV gains more market acceptance.



2015 Kia Soul EV Went On Sale In Mid-October

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 sold ~120 copies in April – a number we probably should be celebrating, as it is close to an all-time record; but we just can’t do it, as the car’s potential is so much higher.

Previously, Kia moved 139 Soul EVs in March.

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 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 the upcoming 110-mile Hyundai IONIQ Electric 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


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

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49 Comments on "May 2016 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

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Looks like another 5 digit sales month for plug-ins.


I was nervous about Tesla S figure until reading the text. Based on X sales, text makes sense. But is it really or is demand waning?

Don’t worry, its the typical quarterly results game. They produce to have as many cars delivered at the end of each quarter, which means that they have to produce the US cars as late as possible and the overseas cars as soon as possible.

The new face has created a lot of demand, so they can pretty much sell as many Ses as the product capacity allows, at least for now.

“Tesla has a monster backlog of Model S orders”

Yes, that must be why (according to a Tesla salesperson as of last weekend) you can order one until June 5th and still get June delivery.

“Can” doesn’t mean likely. It comes down to options. If you buy a top spec Model S P90D+L and have delivery in Fremont, you can jump to near the front of the line with other top spec vehicles. That doesn’t mean the line is short, it just means that there is a fast pass option.

When a normal person says “can” they mean “it is possible this could happen in the future but there is some uncertainty.”

When a sales person says “can” they mean “I am making a noise to encourage you to buy something.”

And when a professional stock manipulator and perpetual Tesla short-seller like Mark B Spiegel says “you can order one until June 5th and still get June delivery”, he doesn’t actually mean you can. He means that someone, somewhere, reported being able to do this, and he’s citing that rare outlier to pretend that’s normal… to insinuate that demand for Tesla cars is actually pretty low.

Tesla bashers have been doing that for years. I guess they think they’re getting some traction by perpetually insinuating that demand for Tesla’s cars has fallen off a cliff, some traction with that sort of lying by implication, or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

It would be cool, if you could add a manufacturer racing chart to the 200k limit.

This would be a great chart to track as well.

According to InsideEVs then, the Model X just overtook the Nissan Leaf in YTD sales.

Good observation.

It is very likely that Model X will finish #2 in sales this year. Only being beat out by Model S.

It will be neck and neck with Volt 2.0 and Model X this fall.


“According to InsideEVs then, the Model X just overtook the Nissan Leaf in YTD sales.”

Let’s keep in mind this chart shows U.S./Canadian sales only. The Leaf sells a lot more internationally than it does just in North America. So probably at least twice as many Leafs were sold globally.

I don’t think May 2016 is going to beat May 2014. Unless some models pull a large increase over what they typically do, I can’t see May 2016 surpassing 12,300. Hope I’m wrong but I think the monthly record is going to take May off.

What is the future of BMW i3 the sales are pretty weak and once Bolt start sales will be worse.

The future is the larger battery pack coming this Summer… lots of potential buyers are waiting on that.

How come you get Volt numbers early but we are still waiting for SPark EV numbers? Chevy doesn’t release all their sales numbers at the same time?

Wonder if we’ll see the same pattern when the Bolt hits the market.

I suspect they’ll do better with Bolt if it sells well. SparkEV sales is within noise, hardly something to brag about.

We’ll see later in the day, but based on inventory trend on autotrader in early May, I suspect it’ll be close to 400. They got infusion of new inventory couple of weeks ago, so it’s hard to tell.

Was going to ask, but I see KBB showing Chrysler’s new Pacifica Hybrid (16kwh PHEV) due to show up “2nd half of 2016”. Still haven’t seen EPA sticker, yet, but will be “mother ship” space.

Inside EVs does best job getting out the sales stats pronto. I can remember going up to the hybrid cars website day after day waiting for the monthly dashboard, only to have my hopes dashed. I’ve noticed that HC are publishing the dashboard quicker since Inside EVs came on the scene.

The only EV that can dethrone a Tesla is the outlander PHEV. I’m willing to bet, it will out sell the model S.

or the Toyota Prime Tesla’s sales are impressive especially at the price they are asking for every vehicle but they are not so wild or far ahead that nothing can touch them. I suspect GM, Ford, VW (perhaps not in the US) or Nissan could turn on the taps and dwarf Tesla in number of sales terms i.e. if the Ford Focus was only available in PHEV in the mid to higher end trim levels they could easily sell 5,000 per month but the price would have to be about the same as a regular focus. Why would they do that? I think the sales crown will belong to Tesla for the next 12-18 months. GM won’t build enough cars, Nissan appear to have given up, Mitsubishi will probably have their wings clipped by their new share holder so as not to crush x-trail sales and ford only seem interested in something that is a little better than an after market kit. The Prime might be a good seller as Toyota must be loosing a lot of Prius sales to the rest of the plugin world but even then I can’t see it getting to out of control, just enough… Read more »

It’s obvious but ignored. The #1 selling vehicle is the Ford F-150 truck. Ford could make a compelling electric truck and do reasonably well, maybe even do it with volume enough to lead the segment in sales units. Why couldn’t they sell 3,000 a month while selling 59,000 ICE versions a month?

Pickups can’t really be streamlined. They also need to be able to haul a significant weight in cargo. The hurdle for making a compelling EV pickup with a significant range, is rather higher than for making a compelling EV sedan, hatchback, or small CUV/SUV, with significant range.

Or to put it another way: Consider how big a battery pack a long-range EV pickup would need — clearly a significantly larger pack than most current PEVs — and whether or not that would price it out of the market.

It’s pretty easy to streamline the front end of a pickup.

Something isn’t making sense with the Nissan sales in the US. If everyone is now buying a different plugin I’d expect to see photographs of endless lines of unpurchased Leaf’s in news articles proclaiming the “death of the electric car!” all over the internet but I see nothing.

My question is simple:

Is Nissan not making enough US Leaf’s or are they not selling enough US Leaf’s?

I imagine that manufacturers have realised that although sales have surged, they have not surged anywhere near as much as the number of new models. In other words, sales per model (with rare exceptions) have not risen by much.

They are therefore matching production to demand. Nissan would be very stupid to churn out loads of unsaleable leafs.

Maybe it is as simple as that, it would make sense but it’s a bit lame on Nissan’s part. They must have known what was in the pipeline with the head start that they’ve had they should have been prepared. I’m still recovering from the new pathfinder hybrid and the total disappointment due to the lack of plug on it.

I geuss I was just hopping for more.

There is a limited market, pressure from both higher-end (Tesla), EREVs (Volt) and the lack of real range of the Leaf itself along with the newer battery sizing. The Leaf is quite small (though some say larger than a Volt in the cabin?).

I think Nissan needs to rethink their offering and make a Nissan Altima-sized car with 180 mile range and CHAdeMO that sells for $33,000 before incentives. They could own that sweet spot and do well in Europe, Asia and N. America.

My target growth of the overall sales this year (in the USA) for the entire segment is still 7% over 2015. Not sure it will break 2014 total sales. I like 7% since it is pretty good growth showing that plug-ins are still interesting but possibly driven mainly by the new Model X, Model S and Volt refreshes.

You were spot on last year, but I think you are going to be short on this year’s prediction.

The 1st half numbers will be 50% of your prediction not the year. 2nd half is always more sales than the 1st half, more selling days and shorter time to recoup the $7500.

I am feeling confident and re-iterating my 140k prediction from here,

BTW, I totally blew the Model 3 prediction in there.

Well, May 2016 has not beaten May 2015 so that is a very small decline.

It may be 7% growth, maybe 10% but nothing big.

I did a presentation a couple years ago at a local renewables group meeting where I was speculating that plug-in sales growth in the USA could be 30% per year by now. It has not even started a moderate growth curve that is sustainable just yet.

But I also remember in 2010/2011, that GM was forecasting the Chevy Volt would be selling 60,000 a year by what, 2013 or 2014?

2016 should end up with 15% – 20% growth. 2017 and 2018 will be 30% growth years, even if Tesla is behind schedule with Model 3.

California ZEV credit requirements that kick in for 2018 basically demand ~30% growth in 2017 and 2018. Prius Prime, Bolt, Iconiq, Leaf 2.0, Honda next gen PHEV, Ford [Insert conversion here], etc. are all timed perfectly to keep their OEMs from massive fines.

Not so sure it will beat last year sales…Ford will have to pull a big month once again, or all the others will have to stand up!

Like for like figures are less encouraging. The sales for the six models that didn’t exist in May last year total total about 2,700.

Subtract that from this years total and you get a 20% or so drop from last year’s total.

You can argue that this doesn’t matter, but it does mean that average sales per model are lower this year than last.

Cool story bro. I guess you’re just pulling info out of your rear when suggesting the Soul EV will end production.

And the fact that you haven’t replied to my comment just confirms my suspicions.

Who are you expecting a reply from?

Am I correct that “worldwide” is still excluding Chinese sales (which are now huge)?